Jan 25, 2023 - News

Pickup trucks have ballooned over the years

Graphic: Will Chase/Axios
Graphic: Will Chase/Axios

What we use our pickups for is changing radically — even as trucks remain bound up in Texas' self-image of rugged independence.

The big picture: Perhaps no vehicle is more associated with Texas than the Ford F-150, consistently our state's top-selling pickup.

Zoom in: In Houston, trucks and SUVs dominate the market, accounting for three out of every four vehicles sold, according to TexAuto Facts.

  • The Ford-F Series is the most popular vehicle in Houston, with more than 18,000 new registered vehicles from January 2022 to November 2022, according to S&P Global Mobility.

Between the lines: There's a discrepancy between the myth of the pickup truck and its actual use, one that mirrors the recent history of a fast-suburbanizing Texas.

  • As pickups transitioned from farm and ranch workhorses to lifestyle vehicles, their design shifted accordingly: Cabs expanded to accommodate more passengers, while beds shrank, per a new Axios Visuals special project.

What they're saying: "Today, personality and imagery are playing an even more important role in how consumers choose which truck is right for them," Strategic Vision researcher Alexander Edwards tells Axios.

  • 40% of F-150 owners describe their vehicle as "powerful," compared to 15% for other car owners, per the firm.
  • Traits declining in popularity: "functional," "reliable," "economical."
  • Traits increasing in popularity: "modern," "sophisticated," "technologically advanced."

By the numbers: The first generation of F-150s were 36% cab and 64% bed by length.

  • By 2021, the ratio had flipped, with 63% cab and 37% bed, as trucks were being used more for carrying people than lumber, rubble or bags of concrete.
  • The 2023 F-150’s lower trims cost between $34,000 and $42,000, but high-end models can run up to $85,000.

What's next: The electric truck.

  • Tesla is rolling out its Cybertruck, Rivian sells the R1T, and Ford delivered more than 13,000 of its F-150 Lightning trucks in 2022.
  • Like some of their conventional counterparts, these vehicles have a luxury sensibility and high price points — the R1T starts at $70,000.

The safety angle


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