It's no secret that pickup sales have been suffering for some time. The segment's troubles hit full-tilt when fuel prices spiked during the summer of 2008, and those problems were magnified by the economic turmoil that began walloping the globe last fall. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel for pickup fans and manufacturers: the folks at Barclays Capital see growth in the truck segment's near future.
Barclays' analysis is based on two key predictions: (1) that manufacturers and dealerships will slather truck-buyers with loads of incentives this fall, and (2) that the slowly rebounding U.S. economy will result in more construction projects, which will, in turn, create more demand for pickup trucks among contractors and construction companies. While there's no definitive data on item #2 just yet, item #1 has already come to pass, as Ford recently announced a chunky $5000 in incentives for 2009 model pickups. That ought to heat up the truck battle between GM and Ford rather nicely.
In numeric terms, Barclays predicts that in the coming year, full-size pickups will achieve an 11% share of the total vehicle market, which is a 2% boost from recent 9% lows. (Cash-for-Clunkers wasn't especially kind to trucks, since few are what we'd call fuel-efficient.) However, that's still far less than the record 15% market share trucks enjoyed back in 2005. Barclays' one caveat: in order to achieve that 11% figure, gas prices have to remain below $3.30 per gallon. That's not particularly troublesome right now, with gas holding steady in the $2.50 range, but next summer could always be a different story.
One other interesting thing to note: Barclays doesn't see Toyota and Nissan benefiting from the jump in truck sales -- primarily because Ford has done so well in growing market share over the past year, to the detriment of foreign brands. That may be the case, though the older folks around the TCC office have some secret high hopes for Toyota's throwback Tacoma concept.