Even in a year of production challenges, the Great Heightening of America’s roadscape continued. Crossovers and SUVs are coming for us all, and that now includes pickup trucks. Analysts at research firm S&P Global Mobility have found that, despite production troubles easing somewhat in the second half of 2022, America’s iconic half-ton pickup trucks are losing market share to SUVs and crossovers, just like cars have.
In the third quarter of last year, half-ton pickup truck market share slipped to 7.8%, sliding further to 7.5% in October, per S&P’s report titled “Pickup owners moving to SUVs (like everyone else).” That’s the lowest market share since the second quarter of 2012 by a country mile, and the analysts claim that SUVs are a direct cause. Body-style loyalty is on the decline, with SUVs seducing current pickup truck owners with highly advanced luxury conveniences like “enclosed cargo areas.” S&P Global Mobility reports that the share of former Ram 1500 owners who’ve migrated to SUVs jumped 5.8 percentage points year-over-year to 41.6%.
Mind you, S&P Global Mobility claims that the heavy duty pickup truck segment appears to be staying flat, but that just results in an even more lop-sided car market compared to a scenario where heavy duty pickup sales increase. In a media release, the firm states that “Through the first 10 months of 2022, utility registrations accounted for 68% of retail luxury registrations and 61% of retail registrations industry-wide.” Let that sink in for a second.
Indeed, you probably already know that sedans and wagons have lost market share at a rapid rate, although just how rapid requires reiteration. The EPA claims that sedans and wagons held 26% market share in 2021 but 50% market share in 2013. While part of this is likely due to reduced choice in the passenger car arena, it also indicates that America’s still not done being crossover-mad.
It’s not hard to see why crossovers and SUVs are so popular. New cars are expensive, so young people aren’t buying a ton of them. Utility vehicles offer a convenient form factor for families toting around strollers and diaper bags, and utility vehicles’ high hip points are often a hit with older generations for ease of entry and egress. In a way, these crossovers and SUVs are a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. People who can afford more stuff are more likely to buy new vehicles, and they want vehicles that can carry all the extra stuff they can afford. A new Toyota Camry may be a perfectly decent sedan, but good luck using it to move an armchair.
Plus, the wide range of sizes from Hyundai Kona small to Jeep Wagoneer L massive means there’s something for everyone in the utility vehicle space. Well, everyone who doesn’t care too much about a low H-point, SCCA autocross eligibility, or road feel. Maybe it’s best to just recognize that pickup truck owners, like sedan evangelists and coupe-driving cone warriors, are perhaps destined to be a minority on the roads. The utility vehicle, whether crossover or sport, will eventually consume us all if nothing dramatically changes.
[Ed Note: I think EVs are going to bring sedans back, which is a view shared by other people here, for aero reasons. I also think that CUVs, in particular, are just going to become cars. – MH]
Of course, the long-term future of the car market is a bit hazy as the electric transition largely negates the CAFE footprint rule that penalizes small cars. In addition, higher interest rates could drive consumers toward vehicles that are fairly cheap to buy and run. Electric trucks also hold huge appeal, so it’s entirely possible that sedans and half-ton trucks will both claw back market share from utility vehicles. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.
(Lead photo credit: Ram)
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