Among heavy-duty Rams, 29 percent sold for at least $50,000 in 2011, up from 22 percent a year earlier.
Craig Trudell - DETROITNEWS
- June 10, 2012
Chrysler Group LLC and Ford Motor Co. are testing the limits of truck buyers' appetite for pickups loaded with leather, chrome and heated seats at price tags that can top $50,000.
It took just three days for dealers to snap up the full-year's allotment of Chrysler's new luxury-trim Ram Laramie Limited pickups, brand President Fred Diaz said in an interview. Ford, whose F-Series has been the top-selling vehicle line in the U.S. for 30 years, said last week it will add a range-topping Limited luxury model later this year.
"I don't know if you can put enough bells and whistles on trucks," said Hayden Elder, the owner of a Chrysler dealership in Athens, Texas, 75 miles southeast of Dallas. "In my mind, I never have enough high-end trucks."
The interest in luxury pickups suggests underlying strength in the U.S. auto market, where investors have been reluctant to add exposure out to concern that higher-profit trucks as a portion of vehicle sales will deteriorate, according to Itay Michaeli, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. While light trucks have lost 1.6 percentage points of U.S. share this year, used pickup pricing has remained stable and the number of long-lasting trucks on U.S. roads continues to climb, he said.
"Automakers are warming up to the view that there is potentially far more pent-up demand for pickups than commonly believed," said Michaeli. "If you buy a pickup, there is probably some level of utility that you wanted, and if you had so much money that you could afford to buy a pickup for fun, you may still have a lot of money and still continue to do that."... [Read More]