The rise of the upscale pickup market is known industry-wide. Consumers are grabbing up trucks in bulk that offer luxurious equipment and uber-capable performance, dwarfing the once-popular sedan category and bolstering the large vehicle movement that's also strengthened by the booming SUV sector. While trucks have essentially always been prominent in the US of A, price figures from just a decade ago now seem meager compared to the $60K and $70K that people now pay for premium offerings from Ford, GM, and Ram.
A recent report from the Wall Street Journal details that, by the numbers, Americans are now paying 61 percent more for pickups than they did in 2009.
In that same time period, the price increase for other vehicles went up only 28 percent, proving the full-size truck market's salt when pitted against commuter cars and econoboxes of yore.
WSJ cites data compiled by JD Power that indicates the average going rate for models like the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, and range of Ram trucks has risen to $44,000. In the bigger picture, that seemingly gargantuan amount is only good enough for a middle-of-the-road trim level from any one of Detroit's Big Three. This stalwart trio is to thank for 90 percent of pickups sold in the States with Toyota and Nissan accounting for the comparatively miniature remainder.
Part of that relative discrepancy boils down to tariffs. A 25-percent tax has long been placed on imported pickups, partially discouraging competition in what Barclays automotive analyst Brian Johnson describes as a Detroit "oligopoly."
Additionally, these automakers are counting on pickups to bring in a major portion of their profit, even if they aren't their best-sellers. WSJ says that although the F-150 and Silverado made up for just 10 to 15 percent of Ford and Chevrolet's respective sales worldwide, they were significant money drivers thanks to what can be described as "favorable" margins. In the case of Chevy, it helped them reach similar operating margin levels to that of luxury car companies Daimler AG and BMW.
And finally, one elephant in the room causing truck prices to skyrocket: power. The heavy-duty pickup segment is stacked with unparalleled workhorses, each producing over 900 pound-feet of torque and towing at least 35,000 pounds. This, along with the allure of features like massaging seats and panoramic sunroofs, reels in well-heeled buyers like the fishing rod in the back of their truck—sadly enough, that might be the most work these near-$100K machines ever see.