Sales of full-sized pickups have driven overall industry growth in 2013 and powered the Detroit 3 in particular to big profits. So when such a key segment begins to slow, even a little, as it did in October, people notice.
Automotive News reported that industrywide, full-sized pickup sales climbed 13% in October from a year ago to 163,709, significantly slower than the 20% clip the segment maintained through the first nine months of the year.
“We think the full-sized pickup market will continue to grow but will likely grow at a slower rate because we’re going to get into some really tough year-over-year comparisons,” said Erich Merkle, Ford’s chief sales analyst.
The segment has accounted for 25% of light-vehicle sales so far this year, but only 14% in October.
Karl Brauer, senior analyst with KBB.com, said higher mortgage interest rates and economic uncertainty impacted housing starts, which in turn affected pickup sales.
“People were just more confident up until July of this year, and that confidence is almost exaggerated on the contractor/small business/truck buyer side of the economy,” Brauer said. “I think pickup buyers were just not quite as free-wheeling in their confidence level as they were earlier in the year.”
Full-sized pickups last month still outpaced the industry, which climbed 10% to a seasonally adjusted annual selling rate of 15.2 million.
Sales across much of the industry were dragged down in the first half of the month by the 16-day shutdown of most of the federal government but recovered and made up ground in the second half.
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