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Off-roaders, toy haulers and skilled tradespersons alike have gravitated toward fullsize pickups for years. Even as the pickup segment declines in new-vehicle sales, one fullsize pickup—Ford’s F-Series—still remained the top-selling vehicle in 2008, as it has for more than 25 years.
And owners of fullsize pickups are still spending money on performance parts and accessories. Owners of the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram each spent, on average, more than $2,300 over the last year, according to the latest SEMA Automotive Lifestyles Survey results.
The Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram were among the top 10 vehicles displayed at the 2008 SEMA Show. There were a total of 96, 64 and 43, respectively. There were generally three types of each pickup displayed: stock versions, usually displaying a rack system or tool box; street versions, typically with lowered suspensions; and off-road variants, with lift kits and knobby tires.
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Sales for each of these three fullsize pickups are expected to drop off a bit in 2009 from previous-year sales, but compared to the overall 27% decline in pickup sales in 2008, this year’s sales forecast may provide relief to performance parts manufacturers and sellers that target owners of these vehicles.
In 2009, sales of the Ford F-Series are expected to decrease by 2%, ending with around 488,000 in total unit sales, according to AutoPacific’s 2008 4th Quarter Sales Forecast. According to the report, Dodge Ram sales will grow by just 1% (260,000 units), but Chevrolet Silverado sales will drop off by 5% (462,000 units).
Although new-vehicle sales for these models have declined compared to the highs of a few years past, total registrations for these three pickups have reached more than 30 million across the United States, according to Experian Automotive registration data. There are potentially many on the road today driven by enthusiasts, possibly looking to improve the look, performance, handling and utility of their pickups.
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Every year, automotive enthusiasts are surveyed by SEMA, dubbed the Automotive Lifestyles Survey, in order to learn about their accessorization trends and buying behaviors. When sufficient numbers of owners of particular vehicle models are surveyed, their specific personalization habits are profiled.
In this case, owners of F-Series, Silverado and Ram pickups were looked at and results showed, for example, that 68% of enthusiasts who drive F-Series pickups actually purchased their vehicle used, and 92% purchased specialty equipment for their pickups within the last year.
Owners of each of these three pickups, according to survey results, do not waste any time before spending money on specialty equipment. Around 66% of Silverado, 67% of F-Series and 69% of Ram owners purchased specialty equipment within the first two months of vehicle ownership. Modifications made within the last year often included exhaust kits and air intake upgrades, trailer hitches, bedliners and suspension upgrades.
Where these enthusiasts purchase their specialty equipment and find information prior to making their purchase often differed significantly, but they all had one thing in common: each used multiple information sources and shopped at multiple distribution channels (see tables below).
The most recent Automotive Lifestyles Survey was administered in August–September of 2008, with a total of 3,037 complete responses. Enthusiasts surveyed included subscribers to 21 different automotive magazines, as well as visitors to automotive forums and websites. The average age and household income of those surveyed was 40 years old and $91,000, respectively. Had the survey been conducted using a random sample of enthusiasts, the confidence interval would have been +/- 1.78%. (i.e., 95% sure the true population average falls between +/- 1.78% of these values).
For more original SEMA market research, please visit www.sema.org/research.