Truck sales passed cars for the first time in 2001

Ford F-series pickup best-selling vehicle in the country

January 05, 2002|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

For the first time since the advent of the horseless carriage, trucks outsold cars in the United States last year.

Based on figures released yesterday by the National Automobile Dealers Association, light trucks, including pickups, sport utility vehicles and minivans, outsold passenger cars by 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent - or slightly more than 276,000 vehicles.

The top-selling vehicle in the county was a truck - the Ford F-series pickup.

The second and third best sellers were also trucks, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup and the Ford Explorer, respectively.

Other trucks on the top 10 list include the Dodge Ram pickup, seventh; and the Ford Ranger pickup, in ninth place.

"Our truck sales were incredible last year," said Joseph B. Aiello, president of JBA Chevrolet in Glen Burnie. "Our business did a complete flip with trucks outselling car sales. That's a first for us."

He said trucks accounted for 53.3 percent of total sales last year, compared with 46.5 percent in 2000.

"Our best seller was the Silverado pickup, but the Suburban, the smaller S-10 pickup and the Blazer were all hot," he said.

In his attempt to explain the growing demand for trucks, Aiello said: "Trucks don't ride like trucks did 10 years ago. They ride as nice as a car."

In fact, he said, "Women have become big buyers of trucks in recent years."

Sue Petty of Darlington recently traded her Ford Crown Victoria sedan for a Ford Expedition.

"It is every bit as comfortable as my Crown Victoria, but the thing I like the most about the Expedition - and it's something that a lot of women like - is that you sit up high off the road," said the recently retired Harford County public school employee. "It gives you a good view of the road ahead."

She also listed several other reasons for joining the American trucking movement. "I have a lot of grandchildren; I needed the additional room," she said, adding: "When I worked I was considered an essential person. I needed to go no matter what. Four-wheel drive makes you feel a lot more secure on snow."

Paul Taylor, chief economist with the National Automobile Dealers Association, said trucks have become so much like cars that their roles are interchangeable.

"A lot of people buy pickups even though they only need to carry things in the back occasionally," he said. "The downside of that is that your friends call when they want to move."

Taylor said the introduction of smaller sport utility vehicles, starting in 1997, has given truck sales a big boost.

He said they are what people in the industry call "crossover utility vehicles or CUVs and they are extremely hot at this time." These are small versions of the sport utility vehicle and are built on a car platform. The category includes such vehicles as the Toyota RAV4, the Lexus RX300, the Ford Escape and Chrysler's PT Cruiser.

Taylor said SUV sales, including CUVs, have risen constantly since 1989 and accounted for about 23 percent of the light vehicle market last year.

Pickup trucks and vans make up the rest of the truck market.

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