This sales trend is showing no signs of slowing down. So what does this mean for luxury sedans?
General Motors outperformed earnings expectations for the third quarter of this year and it can thank its pickup truck lineup for that. According to CNBC, GM's bread and butter Chevrolet division is racing to keep up with demand for its redesigned Silverado full-size pickup truck. Not only that, a surprisingly high number of Silverado buyers want the fully-loaded $70,000 High Country model, complete with features like heated seats, a head-up display, and many other luxury items.
To compare, that's about the same price as a new Mercedes-AMG E 43. We've reported on the trend of ditching luxury sedans for luxury trucks and it now appears the trend has become a new reality.
Along with GM, both Ford and FCA are currently experiencing record-high truck sales with buyers more than willing to fork over at least $50,000 for a nicely appointed truck. For example, the Ford F-150 King Ranch Edition begins at $52,390 and the new Super Duty Limited costs nearly $100,000. Those who can afford to buy luxury sedans are opting for luxury pickup trucks as their next vehicle instead. How come?
Because, according to one Texas dealership manager, "The high-end ones (trucks) are now just like a luxury car. You have a multi-purpose vehicle that can do everything. Your whole family can fit in it. You can use it for hauling. You can tow with it. You can work with it. It's acceptable for everything." Plus, trucks are just plain cool.
Truck buyers today are not always so interested in typical truck features like off-road tires, spray-in bedliners, and cargo tie-downs. Instead, they check the options box for things like premium leather, wood and metal finishes, upgraded audio systems, and safety suite tech like active cruise control, blind spot detection and automatic emergency braking. These full-size trucks are also now more fuel efficient than ever, thanks to, for example, Ford's EcoBoost turbocharged engines and the new Ram 1500's eTorque system.
Ford, GM and FCA are all convinced buyers will continue demanding these luxury pickup trucks, as are rivals such as Toyota and Nissan. Both Japanese automakers are examining how they can upgrade their respective full-size pickups, the Tundra and Titan, in order to capture at least some of that luxury truck demand.
Even Mercedes-Benz is taking a crack at a pickup truck, the X-Class, which is not sold in America. But maybe it's best to think of the X-Class as a test bed of sorts. If it does well enough in Europe and America's newfound love of luxury pickups continues to grow, the German automaker may reconsider its own premium truck for America. Why buy a luxury sedan when there's a far cooler luxury pickup truck parked next to it in the dealer showroom? It's a hard temptation to resist.