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Pickup truck popularity prevails, despite tricky buyer conditions, according to CarGurus survey

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on February 3, 2022

To close out 2021, CarGurus surveyed over 1,000 pickup truck owners to get a pulse on their opinions and interest in trucks and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s the fourth year the online survey has been conducted, and the results found that, despite tricky buyer conditions, demand for gas-powered and electric pickup trucks remains high.

A desire for fun and adventure drawing shoppers to the truck segment

The study found that the pandemic stimulated auto demand as people sought out vehicles as a source of fun and adventure, which naturally drew many to the truck segment. 42% of truck buyers said the pandemic made them more interested in buying a vehicle at that time, and 45% said it made them want to buy a truck instead of another type of vehicle.

However, historically high consumer demand combined with an unprecedented chip and inventory shortage has made it difficult for consumers to find these vehicles, particularly at affordable prices. In mid-to-late 2021 (May-October), 78% of buyers perceived prices to be higher than usual, and 67% said that vehicle selection seemed worse.

“As the pandemic continues, consumers are still increasingly interested in the freedom and fun that trucks provide. With this rising demand for both gas-powered and electric trucks colliding with a tight vehicle market, though, consumers are seeing high prices and limited inventory.” – Madison Edwards, CarGurus Director of Consumer Insights

Interest in electric trucks is growing fast

Will 2022 be the year for electric pickup trucks? As automakers launched new electric trucks over the past year, consumer interest in these vehicles grew fast, with millennials and compact truck owners showing the most interest:

  • 43% of truck owners expect to buy an electric truck in the next decade, up from 34% in last year’s study.
  • Millennials and compact trucks owners were most interested in electric, with 50% and 52% respectively expecting to purchase one in the next decade. The segments least interested in electric trucks were boomers (37%) and consumers living in rural areas (29%).

Brand preferences vary by truck category

The study also looked at interest in different brands, with consumers selecting their preferred models across different truck size categories. For full-size and lifestyle trucks, Ford was most popular with consumers choosing the F-150 and the Maverick, respectively. Toyota’s Tacoma won top choice with the mid-size truck category, and Tesla’s Cybertruck was the top choice for tech-forward models. While there were some clear favorites, most truck buyers are open-minded on brand: 78% said they’d consider a different brand from the truck they own now for future purchases.

What does this mean for dealers?

Despite affordability issues and chip shortages, there’s still an opportunity to capitalize on the excitement for pickup trucks with a few simple changes to your strategy.

  • Revisit your online ad copy and targeting. Shoppers are interested in the freedom and fun trucks bring, and many are just waiting for prices to normalize before buying. Tailor your ads to these shoppers and advertise to them at the right time and place to give them the final push they need.
  • Don’t be afraid to suggest several brands. For many truck owners, factors like size, lifestyle, and price are more important than brand. Giving shoppers options could keep them within the truck category—and at your dealership.
  • Educate your staff on how to talk about electric trucks. The idea of electric trucks is still new to most shoppers. Make sure your team feels confident when discussing their benefits. Your shopper might not buy electric this time around, but chances are their next truck purchase (likely in 5-10 years) could be.
  • Use the Market Analysis tool to identify in-demand trucks. Strategically stock your lot with the trucks shoppers in your area are searching for—and make sure you’re pricing them fairly to avoid driving buyers away.

To view the full report, download the CarGurus 2021 Pickup Truck Sentiment Study here.

Topics: CarGurus data, pickup trucks, shopper insights