Redefining the Pickup Driver for Auto Dealers

Wall Street Journal - May 28, 2013

Pick­up trucks still do the tough work, but more and more they are becom­ing a favorite means of trans­porta­tion, and auto deal­ers must make them­selves aware of the sell­ing ben­e­fits.

Find out what has been added to pick­ups to cre­ate buy­er attrac­tion.

Pick­up trucks, the work­hors­es of the auto mar­ket, are becom­ing more domes­ti­cat­ed.

Auto mak­ers are adopt­ing new tech­nolo­gies to smooth off the rough edges for cus­tomers who typ­i­cal­ly spend hours behind the wheel of a big pick­up both for work and play. Pick­ups can do tough work, but they can be tough on dri­vers with their noisy cab­ins, boun­cy rides and clum­sy han­dling.

Some of the upgrades are easy to spot, such as more pow­er out­lets in the cab­ins, includ­ing stan­dard plugs for lap­tops, and fea­tures that make it eas­i­er to get at stuff in the bed. Oth­er changes are out of sight, such as new hard­ware designed to tune out the free­way vibra­tion that could make a long dri­ve in a truck a fatigu­ing expe­ri­ence.

The big brands in the pick­up business—Ford, Chevro­let, GMC, Ram, Toy­ota and Nissan—have big incen­tives to make their mod­els more appeal­ing. Pick­up buy­ers are becom­ing more demand­ing, auto mak­ers say. And they earn above-aver­age incomes—Ram says its aver­age buy­er earns about $66,654 a year while Ford own­ers aver­age $70,419 a year.

Truck brands adver­tise the dirty work their trucks can do. But most real truck own­ers also use their vehi­cles as fam­i­ly haulers and gro­cery get­ters. About a third of big pick­up own­ers say they use their vehi­cles dai­ly for shop­ping errands, and about 85% will take their trucks on a fam­i­ly vaca­tion at least once a year, says Alexan­der Edwards of Strate­gic Vision Inc., a San Diego com­pa­ny that stud­ies con­sumer car-buy­ing deci­sions.





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