The appeal of pickup trucks

Why Do People Buy Pickup Trucks?

The popularity of fuel trucks is driven by a number of issues. For some, it is a symbol of utility, drive, self-sufficiency and machismo. In states like Texas, it is considered part of the cowboy culture. Meanwhile, in mining towns, it is considered the proper vehicle for moving around, a fact that is also true for farming communities.

Truck purchases have defied pump prices with the purchase inching up by over 300,000 in 2003/4 even though the pump prices also went up by 20 cents. The same trend can be seen over the next 6 years up to 2009 as the truck purchases defy the changes in pump prices. Given that there is no correlation between pump prices and trucks purchases the question becomes, what drives these purchases?

Vehicle Utility. People need trucks irrespective of pump prices. Trucks are needed for deliveries, by cops, in farms, mining areas, construction sites, fire rescue and hundreds of other uses. Because of their multiple and ever increasing uses, the fuel prices becomes merely one of the factors but not the main issue driving the rise or decline in the purchase of trucks. There are just no alternative vehicles that can perform the work that trucks do. Interestingly according to the 2009 issue of Automotive News only 40% of vehicles sold in the US are ‘work trucks. So how do you account for the remaining 60% of trucks bought? 

Image. An interesting 17% of truck buyers do it for the image that it projects. Trucks communicate bravado, capacity, strength, wealth and enable one to fit in with the crowd in places like Texas or the Midwest. Everyone in the image category wants to have the biggest, fastest and most powerful truck on the road. Most trucks are much more expensive that a lot of other types of vehicles. The image factor ranges from premium packages, special features and above average power.

Towing. This constitutes the highest number of those who purchase trucks. We cannot categorise towing in the ‘work’ category since most of this towing is personal use. Most of the towing involve recreational equipment, jet skis and trailers. They also tow dirt bikes, boats, race cars and campers in the towing category. Those who use them for towing purchases are the category that is most likely to be fuel conscious.

Given that anyone who buys trucks will is likely to spend more than those who buy other types of vehicles, it means costs and fuel will never really be a big issue. And as long as communities continue to spend more time outdoors and need to tow, the demand for trucks will always inch up.

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