Surging truck sales paved the way for one of the biggest auto sales months in nearly six years, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
That’s a sign of the housing rebound making its way into new construction, as contractors buy new pickups. Growth in the vital housing and auto industries are giving a welcome boost to the broader economy.
“Housing is good,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales at General Motors Co. “And the individuals that make their living as a result of that are buying trucks.”
“It’s very important, mainly because construction spending has lagged compared to previous economic recoveries, and it is now beginning to become more positive,” said Gerd-Ulf Krueger, a principal at HousingEcon.com Inc.
It’s not just new-home construction fueling sales of pickup trucks, which represent a key tow vehicle for recreational vehicles.
“Now homeowners feel comfortable doing repairs and renovations, and the trades people have enough business to start replacing vehicles,” said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with auto price information company TrueCar.com.
Growth in the energy sector also is powering truck sales, said Jenny Lin, senior economist at Ford Motor Co.
Ford saw F-Series pickup sales soar 16% to 67,513 last month. That was almost double the number for the Nissan Altima, the best-selling passenger car in March.
Sales of Chrysler Group’s Ram trucks and Toyota’s smaller Tacoma trucks jumped 25% and 21%, respectively, over the same month last year. Chevrolet Silverado pickup sales rose 8%.
Sales of trucks from all manufacturers grew 9% last month compared with a year earlier, while car sales fell 1%, Autodata Corp. reported.
Toprak noted that strong truck sales during the first quarter of the year — usually the worst for construction because of the weather — is unusual. The last quarter typically has the most truck sales, as companies make equipment investment decisions based on their profits and expected tax bill.