Buyers trading luxury cars for expensive American luxury trucks

New York Times ended the automotive week with a
story that adds numbers and context to a range of other stories, from the
crossover craze to the increasing median price of a
new car to ever more grandiose
pickup trucks. The NYT piece reveals that the shift to larger vehicles isn’t merely about the average U.S. buyer swapping the midsize sedan for a
Ford Edge. Luxury buyers are migrating from plush sedans to plush SUVs and
trucks that creep close to six-figure prices, and the Detroit Three are running Treasury presses because of it.

From 2013 to 2017, the truck category — everything from pickups to
minivans — climbed from 30 percent of the market to 41 percent. In January of this year, trucks claimed 66 percent of
new vehicle sales. At the milk-and-honey end of profits,
GMC alone accounted for 11.3 percent of
all vehicle sales over $60,000, not just trucks. That puts the luxury truck maker behind
Mercedes-Benz and
Ford, The Blue Oval’s feasting on Lariat, King Ranch and Raptor versions of the
F-150, which make up more than half of that
pickup’s sales, putting it ahead of
Porsche and
Lexus on the high-dollar sales list. The average transaction price of a
GMC in Denali trim last year was $56,000; it’s easy to see why, when one
dealer told the NYT he just swapped a 2012
BMW 550i for a $71,000
GMC Sierra Denali. That truck starts at $52,900.

The NYT started its story with a buyer who took home a
Ford Raptor instead of an
Audi A6, and optioned that $50,020
Ford Raptor close to $80,000. Over at
Lincoln, the new $72,055
Navigator — the one so popular that
Ford will increase production — crossed hands for an average sale price of $77,000 in January. And a
Jeep dealer told the NYT that the two $93,000 Trackhawks he had on his lot «won’t be here more than a few weeks.»

While trucks head up in sales volume and price, cars are headed so viciously in the opposite direction that «the Detroit Three and even some foreign manufacturers acknowledge they are now losing money on many of the cars they sell.» So … get ready for a lot more crossovers and trucks.

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