When auto sales began to circle the drain in 2008, no single segment was hurt more than pickup trucks. Sales were cut in half in many instances, pummeling the domestics from Detroit more often than their foreign competition. Truck sales even dropped in Texas – easily the world's largest market for all things with four wheels, a bed and a V8 engine. Some Texas dealers saw sales drop 30% or more in 2008 and 2009, but some signs point to a turning point for truck sales and perhaps even the auto industry as a whole.
In August, the Ford F-150 saw its first year over year sales increase in three years. Automotive News is reporting that dealers in Texas are reporting more fleet and retail traffic, and one ton trucks are beginning to move off the lot again. Analyst Erich Merkle with Autoconomy.com told AN that the increased truck activity in Texas could mean that the auto industry is on the back swing, and more importantly, perhaps the entire American economy.
As an example of how this could play out, Texas is home to many of our nations biggest ranches. Dealers often sell entire fleets of trucks to these massive ranches, and if they are asking for more trucks, the results will be noticeable in our monthly By the Numbers update. And if ranchers are buying trucks again, that means we're making more things and more money changes hands, which means the economy may be bouncing back to life.
We know it's a bit of a stretch to hang the entire economy on Texas truck sales, but more trucks usually means more building and more construction. We're not sure if that's a bellweather for success, but it can't exactly be a bad thing either.