Consumers increasingly see pickups as overpriced and underbuilt
Pickups are overpriced and are sliding on quality, some consumers say. That’s what the 2019 Truck Sentiment Survey found among pickup owner respondents.
And of those who switched out of a pickup, more than a third bought sedans, even as automakers cease production of many traditional cars, according to the survey by CarGurus.
Separately, a different survey found Chevrolet to be the most popular brand among people younger than 36.
Switching to sedans
The pickup sentiment survey results buck recent industry trends that consumers prefer SUVs, crossovers and pickups as sedan sales decline.
“With pickup truck prices on the rise, many owners are reconsidering their current brand, or in some cases whether they will repurchase a pickup at all,” said Madison Gross, director of consumer insights at CarGurus.
With the average transaction price for a new full-size truck near $50,000, the expense of buying and maintaining a pickup are pushing some pickup owners into other vehicles. The survey found that only about 15 percent of current pickup owners say the vehicles are a good value.
CarGurus, an online automotive marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of new and used cars, surveyed 1,067 current and former pickup owners last month, the split being about 50/50. Among the current owners, 195 own a Ford pickup, 154 own a Chevrolet pickup, 106 own a Toyota and 101 own a Ram.
The survey found that 68 percent of pickup owners said their vehicles were overpriced. Forty-eight percent said the trucks aren’t made as well as they used to be and 17 percent said they probably will not buy another pickup.
Among the former pickup owners who switched to another type of vehicle, 37 percent now own a traditional SUV or crossover and 35 percent now own a sedan, the survey said.
“What an interesting finding in that study,” Gross said. “What we see as the top reasons people are switching categories is that trucks have poor fuel efficiency and they’re high cost. Switching into a large SUV might not make as much sense as a sedan.”
Nearly half of current pickup owners, 47 percent, cited “gas mileage” as a reason for considering another brand of pickup, up from 38 percent in the year-ago study. Nearly 42 percent of former pickup owners said fuel efficiency was a top reason for abandoning pickups for a different vehicle.
“It speaks to gas mileage and fuel efficiency being top of mind to car buyers overall right now,” said Gross.
In fact, pickup owners worried about costs are most likely to switch to a sedan, with half of former owners naming price or gas mileage as their reasons for no longer owning a pickup, the survey said.
Pickup owners are also growing less loyal to brands, the survey said.
About 70 percent of pickup owners said they would switch brands if their preferred brand raised prices by $10,000. In the same survey last year, that figure was 64 percent.
Of the 70 percent who would switch brands with a $10,000 price increase, half would switch with a $5,000 increase.
“Year-over-year, there wasn’t much of a change at the $5,000 threshold, but at $10,000 it got really interesting,” said Gross. “We’ve seen truck makers widen the audience they’re seeking for the truck. In the past it was mostly for a working or commercial buyer. Now people drive it in daily life. So the change in loyalty to a brand also is impacted by that.”
Of the cost considerations likely to drive a person to switch brands, 54 percent cited vehicle price and 47 percent said gas mileage, the survey said.
Toyota pickup owners who intend to buy another pickup are among the most loyal to their brand, with 40 percent saying they would not buy another brand pickup.
By comparison, only 27 percent of Ford pickup owners, a quarter of Chevrolet owners and 27 percent of Ram owners in the market for another pickup said they would stay loyal to their brand.
Gross said Ford and Chevrolet have more full-size and heavy-duty owners and Toyota more midsize pickup owners, but class size doesn't impact brand loyalty. The percent who would not consider any other brands for next pickup truck purchase breaks down to 29 percent of full-size pickup owners and 27 percent of midsize owners.
In January, IHS Markit said GM earned the highest customer loyalty among all automakers selling in the United States for the fourth year in a row.
Chevrolet pickup owners are also more likely to consider a pickup’s “brand reputation” as a reason to buy another brand, Gross said. And Chevrolet owners are more likely to use their pickup for work purposes, so reputation is the second most important factor for these owners behind price, she said.
But Chevrolet pickup owners are 1.3 times more likely to say trucks are not as well made as they used to be compared with owners of other brands, said Gross.
Yet in the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, Chevrolet came in fourth among 31 brands for vehicle dependability. The annual J.D. Power study gauges dependability of 3-year-old vehicles over the last 12 months, meaning this year’s survey assessed the 2016 model year. Likewise, the heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado was named the most dependable pickup in the “large heavy-duty pickup” category in the J.D. Power study.
Separately, millennial and Gen Z car shoppers said Chevrolet is the brand they most identify with, according to a study released Monday by Autolist.com.
Autolist polled 1,750 current car shoppers and asked them which brand they believed was most relevant to their age group, which brand they would buy today and which brand they currently owned. Chevrolet was the top answer to all three questions among people younger than 36.
"Chevy is doing a great job of trading on its reputation as a no-nonsense, affordable brand while at the same time adding to its vehicles the stuff younger buyers covet," said Chase Disher, analyst at Autolist.com. "This includes things like WiFi hotspots, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, wireless phone charging and an intuitive infotainment system."
Source: Detroit Free Press