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Pickup Sales, Prices Continue to Rise – Gas Prices Notwithstanding

Posted by Ashley Karr on March 30, 2016

Today’s low gas prices have led households to enjoy a “tax cut” of about $1,000 per year, researchers at IHS have found. In other words, the typical household now spends $1,000 less on fuel than it did between 2011 and 2015.

But does cheap gas affect people’s vehicle preferences? We took a look into our lead-volume and pricing data for pickup trucks, some of the least fuel-efficient vehicles on the road, to find out.

The answer to the question is: yes and no. When we charted pickup prices and gas prices, we found that there is a negative correlation about six months after gas prices change. In other words, if gas prices go up, pickup prices go down six months later. If gas prices go down, pickup prices go up six months later.fuel_gauge.jpeg

However, the data gets a little funny when there is no time lag. In fact, pickup prices and gas prices are positively correlated in the short term, meaning that pickup prices actually increase as gas prices do.

Our best explanation for this is that multiple factors affect both gas prices and truck prices. The fact that the two are correlated both negatively and positively makes it hard to say they’re related causally – i.e., that the cost of fuel consistently has a meaningful relationship to pickup prices.

The real story here may be the enduring popularity of pickups in the vehicle mix. They won a lot of share on CarGurus just in the past year, as this table shows:

Vehicle category Lead-share increase (decrease), Feb. 2015 – Feb. 2016
Pickups 12.28%
Hatchbacks 3.34%
Crossovers 1.87%
SUVs 0.24%
Sedans (1.58%)
Coupes (3.59%)
Minivans (8.33%)
Convertibles (9.27%)

In addition, pickup prices have increased consistently over the past 8 years:


Here are gas prices charted over the same time span, to show just how little relationship there is between fuel costs and pickup prices:

gas.pngPut simply, demand for pickups is consistently strong, price increases notwithstanding. As a result, OEMs are improving them every year: some pickups can even get 30+ MPG on the highway. They’re the top choice of millions of drivers every year.

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Topics: auto industry news, car buyers