Feb 2, 2023 - News

Des Moines' pickup truck obsession

Data: Data: S&P Global Mobility; Chart: Axios Visuals

Trucks are the king of the streets in central Iowa with pickups ranking as the most popular vehicles last year.

Driving the news: Four of Des Moines' 10 best-selling vehicles in 2022 were are pickup trucks, according to vehicle registration data from January through November 2022 by S&P Global Mobility.

  • Statewide, more than 50% of registered vehicles in Iowa were “multipurpose,” which includes pickups, SUVs and vans.

The big picture: As trucks transitioned from gravel-bearing workhorses to family cruisers over in the past 40 years, their size and weight have ballooned, according to a new Axios Visuals special project.

Why it matters: Pedestrian and road safety advocates say today's massive trucks are a hazard, given their size, weight and driver blind spots.

The backstory: In the 1980s, about half of U.S. pickup trucks were categorized as small or midsize. But by the 2010s, small pickups had nearly vanished as Americans increasingly bought into the big truck lifestyle.

  • As pickups transitioned from workhorses to lifestyle vehicles, their design shifted accordingly: Cabs expanded to accommodate more passengers, while beds shrank.
Graphic: Will Chase/Axios

What's next: Electric vehicles. Iowa's electric and hybrid vehicle markets saw 28% growth last year from 2021 to 2022.

  • As of December 2022, an estimated 10,712 electric and hybrid vehicles are registered in Iowa. Polk County makes up nearly a quarter of those.

Keep reading ... the safety angle


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