Pickup trucks continue to outsell other vehicles

Online buying changes buying experience
February 26, 2013
Ethanol blend issue hits court
February 26, 2013
Online buying changes buying experience
February 26, 2013
Ethanol blend issue hits court
February 26, 2013

Here in the Sportsman’s Paradise, it’s almost vital to have a vehicle that goes from the deer lease to the boat launch to soccer and ballet practice, and the Tri-parish area is no exception.

“A truck is not just a truck anymore,” said Terrebonne Ford general sales manager Mickey Bruce. “Trucks are now the primary vehicle for many families in the area. A truck serves the comfort of traveling and uses, like towing things, and people like the style and comfort level of a pickup truck.”

Many of this year’s customers are coming in to purchase the Ford F-150 SuperCrews, trucks with four full doors and V-6 or V-8 engine.

“Ford F-150 sales are through the roof,” Bruce said. “Two- and four-wheel drives are popular. The F-150’s are outstanding trucks, and we are looking forward to a great year.”

In addition to choosing options like large cabs, customers are also looking to get more bang for their buck by selecting fuel-efficient options now available on many different makes of vehicles.

“People want the Ford EcoBoost technology,” he said. “The system gives you the maximum horsepower for towing capacity and higher gas mileage. It’s the best of both worlds.”

EcoBoost was first debuted in 2010, and the system gives the vehicle 20 percent better fuel efficiency as well as 15 percent less greenhouse emissions than the same vehicle without EcoBoost. A year later, Ford also debuted MyFordTouch, another popular feature that allows hands-free calling from a cell phone.

“MyFordTouch helps keep drivers’ minds and eyes on the highway, and it’s easy to use,” Bruce said.

Like customers at Terrebonne Ford, truck buyers at Trapp Chevrolet are also looking for a way to transport the family and weekend toys.

“Our customers are coming in for trucks to pull boats, campers and trailers,” said Trapp Chevrolet marketing manager Megan Cadwell. “People are really excited about the 2014 Silverados. Chevrolet has discontinued production of the Colorado pickup truck because they were not in high demand, and Silverados are great on gas, durable and have plenty of room.”

Customers may begin ordering the new trucks in March, and Cadwell expected the vehicles to be delivered by the end of September. In addition to selling many Silverado 1500s, the dealership also sells many diesel pickups in the 2500 and 3500 models.

“Most people come in for two-wheel drives,” she said. “All Silverados come with a trailering package, so it’s not necessary to get a four-wheel drive truck anymore unless you will be off-roading.”

According to Cadwell, 60 percent of Silverados sold at the lot are crew cabs, trucks with four doors, followed by extended cabs, trucks with four doors, two of which can only be opened when the front two doors are opened, followed by single-cab trucks.

“There’s only a few inches difference in the crew and extended cabs, but people with families like the crew cabs more because they can open all doors without having to open the front ones first,” Cadwell added.

When it comes to gadgets, Trapp Chevrolet’s customers also prefer hand-free cell phone systems, but the safety feature is not the only one that lands at the top of the most-requested list.

“People really want the built-in navigation systems,” Cadwell said. “You no longer have to put things on your dashboard to get around. The rear view cameras are also very popular with moms. They like to be able to check their surroundings before backing up.”

Once customers purchase a new truck, many of them take things a step further than driving around with the straight-off the-show-room-floor look by changing the rims, tires, stereo system and even height of the vehicle.

“Trucks are going high and higher,” said Ricky Chancey, owner of Diamond C Audio and Truck Accessories in Houma. “The Houma area is popular for lifting trucks. There are lots of young guys working in the oil field here who have a lot of extra money to spend on their trucks.”

Chancey gets lift kit customers from Cut Off, Morgan City, Patterson, Golden Meadow, Larose and even New Orleans, and those who come in to get their trucks “jacked up” want the vehicle lifted anywhere from 6 inches to a foot.

“We’ve lifted about 15 trucks since the first of year,” Chancey said. “At least one person a day calls or comes in to price lift kits. People who are spending $40,000 on trucks come in and spend another $10,000 on accessories, and they will start off with lifting the truck and come back in over time to buy accessories.”

The shop is a direct dealer for many of the automotive accessories it sells, including rims, bumpers, grills, stereo systems, ladder racks, tool boxes, navigation systems, back up cameras and spray-in bed liners.

According to Chancey, lifting is not the only automotive trend in the Tri-parish area.

“People are coming in to murder their vehicles,” he said, laughing. “I know that sounds really morbid, but the trend involves getting the blacked-out headlights, tail lights, rims and even grills. We even black out emblems on the vehicle or make custom ones. That chrome trim that was popular in the 1990s is on the way out.

“People are accessorizing and changing their vehicles instead of buying a new one,” he added. “You can transform it, make it look new, by putting accessories on it.”