An interesting article in today’s MotorBiscuit states that “American’s love affair with pickups has leaped off the platform and is taking a dive. More to the point, you have to turn the statement around and ask, Is the love affair with pickup trucks heading nose first into an empty pool?
Indeed, MotorBiscuit has some compelling evidence. The publication states that truck sales “have been dropping for the past few years. In 2022 alone, the Ford F-Series saw a 17 percent decline for most of 2022 until a sudden surge in December narrowed that loss to 10 percent.” Other makes like the Ram 1500 “tanked almost 18 percent.” It continued that the “trend looks to continue as few changes mark the 2023 trucks from Ford, Chevrolet, Ram, and Toyota.”
Midsized Pickup Truck Sales
It is even worse for midsized pickups. The Ford Ranger dropped 42 percent, according to goodcarbadcar.net Another midsized contender the Nissan Front “fell off a cliff with 63 percent lower sales year-over-year.”
The MotorBiscuit asked the question, “has consumer demand finally hit a wall, or is it something else?”
Even Toyota’s Tundra pickup, which was all-new in 2022, and has a built-in advantage, is “seeing numbers almost identical to 2021. It problem has more to do with the dreaded supply chain woes. But the expectation is for these numbers to dip in 2023.”
Why Are Truck Sales Dipping?
MotorBiscuit notes that the Ram 1500 isn’t exactly new. It was introduced five years ago. And while there have been “updates, it looks like Ram will need to do something new to jazz up sales.” The publication points to the Ram Revolution EV, but it also realizes that “the price tag will keep sales well below its gas-powered siblings.” Continuing, it noted the “same is true for the Ford Lightning, GMC Hummer, and Chevrolet Silverado EV.”
Looking at the current truck landscape, MotorBiscuit speculates that it’s possible that “development budgets are shifting to favor EV trucks.” In turn, it is quite possible that “conventional truck model introductions” are being pushed further out. Looking more closely at the pickup landscape, the MotorBiscuit notes that compact pickups like the Ford Maverick and all-new Nissan Frontier could easily be “stealing some full-size truck sales.”
Meantime, “SUVs have seen many new models, and with three-row seating, they too could be taking a bite out of pickups. “Or could it be Rivian and order holders for the Tesla Cybertruck that are causing truck buyers to wait?” speculated the MotorBiscuit.
When Will There Be New Pickups in the Pipeline?
Who is to say whether Rivian or Tesla is sending out smokescreens on their future claims? Rivian, for its part, claims to have more than 100,000 reservations for the R1T electric truck, while Tesla claims to have 1.5 million reservations for the Cybertruck. “Split it three or four ways; those two numbers would definitely bolster a truckmaker’s production figures,” said MotorBiscuit. However, there is a silver lining to these clouds.
Ford has good news with its revised 2024 Super Dutys,” though we’re not sure why they’re not called 2023 trucks,” questions the MotorBiscuit. There’s also the new Ram 1500, slated to be a 2024 model, that may arrive in the summer. Plus, as MotorBiscuit notes, “there is also plenty of news surrounding small pickups, spurred by Ford’s success with the Maverick.”
MotorBiscuit notes that there’s only one pickup that has increased sales this year, the Toyota Tundra. But other pickups are coming. For example, Chevy has plans for a new small electric that could be “here before 2026,” says the MotorBiscuit. Toyota and Nissan looking at the compact segment, and Ram and Chevy have “small trucks in other markets. We’re surprised they aren’t here already.”
The MotorBiscuit concludes that “as 2023 blends into 2024 (model year), there are refreshes to look forward to, an upswing in electric truck production, and a slew of compact pickups, with some all-electric. So maybe consumer demand isn’t down. It’s just that there are more choices.”
Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper "You Auto Know," an enterprise I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my earnings while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.