To D.C.’s Dismay, Sales Keep on Truckin’ (National Review, 03.22.10)

Posted by hpayne on March 22, 2010

Detroit – The auto industry headliner for February was Ford surpassing GM in total sales for the first time in a decade. But the news overshadowed another notable fact: The SUV is back, baby.

“The strength of our new products . . . are resonating with customers,” Ken Czubay, Ford’s sales veep said. And fortunately for Ford, that means big-margin trucks in addition to less profitable sedans. The giant Ford Expedition? Up 58 percent. The Ford Explorer? Up 31 percent. The Ford F-Series pickup? Up 39 percent.

As my Detroit News colleague, auto editor Manny Lopez, puts it: “Despite the Dearborn automaker’s nonstop drumbeat about its small cars, (Ford) did it largely on the strength of its trucks and big vehicles. Ford sold more F-series pickups (32,895) than Volkswagen sold for all its vehicles (24,450) in February.”

Large vehicles – especially trucks – are where the money is. That’s why every manufacturer in the world wants to be in the U.S. market: Because the U.S. doesn’t gas-tax its consumers into tiny, low-profit-margin econoboxes.

“Throw in the 19,822 Chevrolet Silverado pickups sold in February, which made it the third-best selling vehicle for the month behind the Honda Accord at 20,024,” continues Lopez, “and trucks not only dominated sales, they helped haul the market to a 13.3 percent increase. Trucks outsold small cars 378,033 to 141,351. Expect that to get even better when the housing market and other commercial trades truly start to improve and truck buyers replenish their fleets.”

This is nails on a chalkboard for Washington’s green prudes, but music to the ears of automakers desperate for greenbacks. And the hybrids that Washington and its media flacks say the public demands? The little darlings only sold 16,733 units last month – barely 2 percent of overall sales and miles behind the 24,157 vehicles sold in the large and luxury SUV segments.

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