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Report: Full-size Pickup Trucks Back in Demand

Low incentives, new products and construction sites filled with aging pickups have set the stage for an especially competitive — and lucrative — battle in the one segment the Detroit 3 still dominate: big pickups.

According to an Automotive News report, that’s why the most important new vehicle for General Motors this year is not the Corvette Stingray currently drawing big crowds at the Detroit auto show, but the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado parked nearby.

It’s why Ford Motor Co. made sure to steal some of GM’s auto show thunder by rolling out an unusually early glimpse of the next F-150, more than a year before it goes on sale.

And it’s why Chrysler Group emerged from the show supremely confident after its Ram 1500, re-engineered several months ago, was named North American Truck of the Year.

“It’s a gunfight,” said Fred Diaz, president of the Ram brand. “It’s not a matter of being the newest truck on the market; it’s more a matter of being the best truck on the market.”

The improved trucks, combined with gains in the economy and housing market, are giving the companies’ executives and dealers reason to salivate.

“We’ve got a lot of opportunity with this truck,” said Mark Rowe, general manager of Henna Chevrolet in Austin, Texas, where the Silverado accounts for half of the store’s new-vehicle sales. “It’ll get a lot of people in the showroom. As the overall business climate improves I think people will have the confidence and the motivation to refresh their fleets or buy the family a new vehicle.”

Sales of full-sized pickups this year are expected to outpace overall industry growth for the first time in years, said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst with Kelley Blue Book. He said his conservative forecast is for the segment to increase by about 7%, compared with around 5% for overall car and truck sales.

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