Can the U.S. light-truck market get any hotter after eight years of spectacular growth from the depths of the 2008-09 crash? Apparently, yes.
Light trucks' sprint toward capturing 70 percent of the U.S. new-vehicle market took a giant leap in the first quarter, capped by a spectacular March.
U.S. sales of crossovers, SUVs, pickups and vans set a monthly record of 1,116,280 in March, easily topping 1 million units for only the fifth month on record.
Light trucks represented 68 percent of the U.S. new-vehicle market in the first three months — a quarterly high — and up sharply from 45 percent in 2009.
Seven of the top 10 selling vehicles in the U.S. this year are light trucks, vs. six in the top 10 in all of 2017.
It's the tiniest of those vehicles — subcompact crossovers — that are propelling the market, with sales up 61 percent in March and 38 percent year-to-date. The market is also getting a lift from midsize pickups (up 21 percent this year), large crossovers (up 17 percent), compact crossovers (up 13 percent), midsize SUVs (up 21 percent) and premium compact crossovers (up 14 percent). Even minivan sales, up 3 percent, are outpacing the overall market, which is up 2 percent.