It's not your imagination; average pickup truck prices have risen aggressively in the past few years. Trucks are moving upmarket, buyers want to trade-up sooner, and they're focusing on "payments" over "price" so they can "afford" these heavy-duty luxury vehicles every three years.
TrueCar reports that the average pickup truck sale price has leapt from $35,346 in 2010 to $41,029 in 2014. That's about $3,000 over inflation according to the US government calculator. In that same period of time, J.D. Power says leasing of light-duty pickup trucks increased from 3 percent to 14 percent.
As trucks get fancier, they get more expensive (obviously). That puts them in the sights of a different kind of buyer; somebody who loves the 360º camera and massaging seats now but expects there to be better and faster toys in the next model and wants to have 'em.
And if I had to guess, I'd say a truck customer who's excited about adaptive cruise control is not beating the hell out of his rig at a worksite or off-road so egregious penalties for dings isn't as much of a concern.
Expensive-truck buyers are alsomore likely to be expensive-car owners, who are typically more inclined to lease. Automotive News says "nearly half of all [luxury car] sales" are done through leasing.
Automakers are into it because it gets people back in the dealership every three years or so, and thanks to modern trucks' higher resale values they're able to offer ludicrously enticing payment plans. Auto News' Mike Colias reports finding deals for "payments of less than $300 a month in certain markets."
It will be interesting to see how far automakers will push the luxury truck trend, and whether it eventually breaks into its own segment altogether. I can't see a lease arrangement making sense to a work truck customer who's going to incur damage and excessive wear, but automakers are going to invest where they can make money and right now the "lifted luxobarge" business is booming.
Image via Chevrolet