Full-size pickups became the U.S. auto industry's largest segment in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic slashed new-vehicle sales by roughly one-third.
Big pickups outsold compact crossovers, which had been No. 1 every quarter since sedans fell out of favor with consumers in recent years. Including the midsize segment that Jeep and Ford have reentered, one in four vehicles sold by nonluxury brands from April through June was a pickup, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
"Even when the vehicle market goes completely sideways, the truck market stays straight and true," said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book. "This is particularly good news for domestic brands like Chevrolet, Ford and Ram, all of which rely heavily on high-profit truck sales. This trend will likely continue as the economy recovers and consumers look to start delayed home improvements, relocations and other truck-friendly activities."
Excluding Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover, which are expected to report their results this week, U.S. new-vehicle sales plummeted 34 percent in the second quarter.
Industry sales suffered as plant shutdowns reduced inventories and many dealerships had to temporarily close or complete transactions online to comply with government restrictions. Pickup volume declined less than most other segments, in part because of the 0 percent financing offers automakers rolled out as the pandemic roiled the economy. Many dealers said they sold the majority of the pickups they had in stock.