The pickup truck isn’t just a working man’s tool any longer. Instead, it’s for the modern renaissance man. Trucks can carry families comfortably, tow a trailer or boat on the weekend, haul tools during the week and veer off of the beaten path when deemed necessary. That kind of thinking has turned luxury pickup trucks into true rivals for traditional luxury brands.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that buyers are more often trading in their premium sedans and crossovers for luxury pickup trucks. At General Motors, the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado see trade-in rates of 15 and 9 percent, according to Edmunds data. At Ford, its 13 percent of F-150 buyers, and Ram sees 9 percent of buyers trading in cars from established premium makes. And we’re talking BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. At Ram, the division said it even gets some Cadillac owners stepping into luxury pickup trucks like high-end Ram 1500 models.
And the data points are good for traditional premium brands, according to Ivan Drury, a senior analyst at Edmunds. “One of the main tenets of truck sales is, once you get a truck owner, they have very high odds of never leaving,” he said.
It’s unlikely any customers who left their Mercedes-Benz C-Class will ever return to the brand, in other words. Indeed, pickup truck sales rose in August while Mercedes-Benz saw sales plunge 20 percent. BMW made a minor 1 percent gain while Audi grew 5.5 percent.
Back at GM, the GMC brand has worked to cultivate premium buyers and keep them in its portfolio with the ever-expanding Denali sub-brand. And it’s working. Denali vehicles account for one-third of all GMC sales in 2017 and the average transaction price for a new GMC grew to $43,800. In comparison, the average GMC sold for $32,600 in 2007.
Acadia, Sierra HD, Yukon XL and Yukon buyers were most likely to purchase the range-topping Denali model with 30 percent, 50 percent, 63 percent and 54 percent of vehicles sold boasting a Denali badge.