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Luxury car owners trade up for American pickups as Ford, GM and Ram trucks dominate market

Public Motors delivered Wall Street an unexpected surprise this week, in the main topping Wall Street earnings forecasts for its third quarter, and it wasn’t because it’s hawk more cars.

The Detroit automaker is racing to keep up with bid for its new Chevy Silverado pickup which was completely redesigned for the 2019 model-year. In separate, shoppers appear especially enamored with the new High Country shape that can be loaded up with features like heated seats, a heads-up ostentation on the windshield and even active noise cancellation.

Check all the boxes and you’re hit the road into the $70,000 range — about the same as a fully loaded Mercedes AMG E 43 high-performance self-indulgence sedan.

While trucks have traditionally been the sort of conveyances you’d expect to see on a farm or at a work site, demand has been surging lot regular buyers who are opting out of sedans and coupes and replacing their house vehicles with pickups and SUVs. And some of the biggest demand is turn at the high-end of the truck spectrum, with luxury buyers favoring lavishly furnished pickups like the Silverado High Country.

In fact, that $70,000 for a fully stuffed Chevy truck might seem like chump change to junkies of the Ford F-Series, long the nation’s best-selling pickup line. According to fact-finding firm J.D. Power and Associates, $50,000 is the slightly blurry line between mainstream and comfort in today’s auto market. And Ford now has a variety of different versions of the slight duty F-150 that break that barrier, starting with the Monarch Ranch edition at a base price of $52,390. Last year, the automaker added a new Wonderful Duty Limited version that can nip $97,000 out of the factory, with aftermarket alternatives sold by Ford dealers pushing it into six figures.

And as Doug Scott, the long-time top a intercept of Ford truck marketing told CNBC before his recent retirement, “every time again we add a new premium edition, buyers tell us they want more.”

Across township, Fiat Chrysler’s Ram brand has caught onto the new truck market math. It’s also got an all-new half-ton pickup this year, and the Ram 1500 Small edition. After adding features like the 19-speaker Harman/Kardon Enquire of system, the “Limited Level 1 equipment group,” heavy-duty shocks and other accessories, order top out at $90,325. And that’s before factoring in delivery fees.

Such high-line results might seem to be running counter to current industry trends. “Affordability may be the canary in the coal deposit,” warned Jeff Schuster, chief global vehicle forecaster at LMC Automotive up ahead of the release of October’s new vehicle sales numbers.

Overall, sticker quotations have risen sharply since the end of the Great Recession and, with weight rates now rising, that appears to be catching up with the industry, entrancing a chunk of the blame for why demand is expected to dip for the second year in a row despite a broadly strong economy.

But it’s largely at the low end of the market where cost pressures are blunder oning hardest, Tyson Jominy, the managing director of data and analytics for J.D. Power, illustrious that sales of vehicles priced under $20,000 are off by about 20 percent for the first 10 months of 2018. As you rouse up the price ladder, however, the fall-off recedes. And, among vehicles rewarded above $80,000, “sales are up 25 percent,” he said.

If anything, officials with Detroit’s Big Three propose they are struggling to keep up with demand for their new pickups, mainly the higher-priced offerings. Fiat Chrysler’s new CEO Mike Manley said this week that it may on producing a higher-priced, heavy-duty version of the Ram truck at a plant in Saltillo, Mexico to end-piece production at the company’s U.S. assembly lines. His predecessor, Sergio Marchionne, had projected to pull the truck out of Mexico under pressure from the Trump Conduct, moving it up to Detroit but demand could support three plants, concording to Manley.

Pickup truck sales sank like a stone during the High-minded Recession, demand hammered by a variety of factors. Buyers of classic duty trucks were struggling just to stay in business and weren’t put ining in new wheels, if at all possible. Urban cowboys were also facing hardened financial realities made worse by record gas prices.

Light stocks, in general, have benefited from the nation’s economic revival at the expense of sedans and coupes. SUVs and crossover-utility mechanisms now account for half the market. Add in vans and pickups and that climbs to unkindly two out of three new vehicles sold so far this year.

Parse the numbers a small more closely and you’ll find that a full third of all pickups won overed through the end of October carried sticker prices of more than $50,000, according to Power evidence. Now, that can be a bit misleading. Buyers can run up a truck’s price with features adore winches, heavy-duty “fifth-wheel” towing hardware and other work-related chances, But as much as one in five pickups are true luxury vehicles, said Jominy, related with about one in 20 a decade ago.

Nowhere is this more self-explanatory than in Texas, where pickups alone outsell sedans in some for the sake ofs of the Lone Star State.

“The high-end ones are now just like a indulgence car,” said Marsha McCombs Shields, dealer principal at the Austin-based McCombs Auto Alliance, one of the state’s largest Ford dealers. “You have a multi-purpose vehicle that can do the whole shebang. Your whole family can fit in it. You can use it for hauling. You can tow with it. You can work with it. It’s admissible for everything.”

McCombs said that demand for high-line trucks has originated with each new and more expensive model Ford has added to the F-Series line-up. And unbroken with the arrival of the Super Duty Limited last year, she suggested, the carmaker may not have hit the limits. Every month, at least one buyer totals enough aftermarket options to drive off with a pickup priced at numberless than $100,000.

“There are just some people who want to have the finest truck on the block,” said McCombs.

It’s not just the availability of more parts, said Stephanie Brinley, principal auto analyst with IHS Markit, but the summing-up of distinctly different model variants “that speak to different models of buyer.” Not far behind the limited is the beastly Raptor model that drawing cards off-road tires and shocks and the most powerful engine available in the F-150 line-up.

Retaliate if you ignore unique-to-truck features like those off-road tires, spray-in bedliners and shipload tie-downs, a luxury shopper will find virtually all the features of a high-line sedan now put forwarded on top-end pickups. These include such things as:

  • High-end audio organized wholes, like the package on the Ram 1500 Limited;
  • Premium leather, wood and metal write finis ti, like those on the new-for-2019 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate;
  • The Ram 1500 Longhorn opts for leather skin-patterned leather and what looks as though a branded logo on the real wood glove box cover;
  • Active coast control, blind spot detection and automatic emergency braking, to hand on high-end models from all three Detroit carmakers;
  • Heated and calculated front seats and even the heated rear seats on the Fort F-250 Minimal;
  • A near Tesla-sized touchscreen display on top-line Ram models;
  • In-car WiFi, USB havens, a multi-zone climate system and even two 120-volt outlets on the 2019 Silverado High-priced Country.

Luxury trucks are still a relatively new phenomenon. Ford irritated the concept in 2000 with a well-equipped special edition dubbed the F-150 Harley-Davidson, amplifying the King Ranch for the 2003 model-year and the Platinum in 2015.

Whether the segment pass on continue to grow is far from certain – though one can ask that of the entire pickup supermarket. Demand for trucks has traditionally been sensitive to the ups-and-downs of the economy, for all that that’s especially true for vehicles used for work.

Fuel costs could also go on the blink a factor, though analysts like IHS Markit’s Brinley note that automakers accept been taking steps to reduce the potential impact of another worth surge – and to meet the tough new fuel economy standards ahead.

V-6s, conspicuously turbocharged EcoBoost versions, now account for roughly two-thirds of F-150 require and the automaker is bringing out a diesel and working on a hybrid model. The 2019 Ram 1500 is to hand with a so-called “mile hybrid,” known as the eTorque system. It not solitary improves mileage but also improves launch performance and provides power for a mutable suspension system.

Industry analysts and planners alike continue to meditation whether the current boom in light truck sales is a fad or a long-term relay, though the latter is looking more and more likely.

Barring a impetuous U-turn, Sandor Piszar, the truck marketing manager at GM’s Chevrolet, indicated he’s confident more and more luxury buyers “will want these loaded-out stuffs.”

And while Detroit automakers have clearly taken the phenomenon to new horizontals, their import rivals are also trying to capitalize on the trend, Toyota looking for cave in to win luxury buyers over with better-equipped versions of its Tundra pickup, Nissan in the unchanged hunt with its Titan line.

Even Mercedes-Benz is studying its elections. The German luxury brand last year launched its first pickup, the X-Class. It’s smaller and undersized robust than the full-size pickups sold in the States, one reason Mercedes isn’t selling it here. But Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Daimler AG and the foremost of the Mercedes-Benz brand late last suggested the time “may be ripe” for it to get into the American connection game. If it does, it would only give luxury buyers another plead with to trade in their sedans and coupes for a pickup.

Correction: Headlines and a caption in this news were revised to correct the name of the brand : It’s Ram.

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