BIZ-AUTO-PICKUP-BUYERS-2-DE

A 2021 Ram 1500 TRX pickup drives up rough terrain in its rock climbing mode. A new study indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic influenced a segment of younger consumers into buying pickups that would’ve otherwise opted for different kinds of vehicles.

Attitudes of pickup owners have shifted in a big way with COVID-19, based on a new study from CarGurus.com.

“We learned how the pandemic may have helped to spur pickup truck purchases,” said Madison Gross, director of customer insights at the automotive research and shopping site.

Part of the reason is the time to do more home improvement projects and the need for a vehicle to haul bulky stuff. If people were pondering a truck, they pulled the trigger.

“According to the study, 26% of pandemic truck buyers said they hadn’t intended to buy one before, yet they opted to do so,” Gross told the Free Press. “Younger shoppers helped fuel this demand, noting that trucks offered a fun escape and a way to treat themselves, and stimulus checks helped them make these purchases.”

The study gauged the appeal of pickup trucks to buyers of all ages, but specifically looked at Gen Z and millennials.

This study surveyed 31% midsize truck owners, 55% full-size truck owners and 14% Heavy Duty truck owners.

Steve Frost, 39, a mortgage company owner from Lake Orion, Mich., ordered a 2021 Ram 1500 in October sight unseen. It’ll mark an end to his years of driving a 2015 GMC Sierra Denali and a 2018 GMC Sierra Denali.

“I’ve never been a guy to get the same car twice and then I got the same truck twice. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to break up. It’s not them, it’s me,” Frost said. “So I ordered a Ram. They have that big screen in the middle. I feel like I needed to change my style a little bit, switch it up.”

He’ll use his $60,000 vehicle to drive to work and take the kids to school.

After seeing the truck on the internet and placing the order with a dealer in Woodhaven, Mich., the vehicle is scheduled for delivery this month, he said. “The pandemic certainly solidified the truck-man in me.”

Frost, like the majority of pickup owners, said he uses his truck for home improvement and commuting.

Frost falls right into the Gen Z/millennial ages of 18 to 39 studied by CarGurus.

They surveyed 1,081 so-called “pandemic buyers,” or the people who reported buying a truck from mid-April through mid-September. They compared the findings with their study done in February, just before the coronavirus shutdown period.

Here’s what CarGurus found out about the “pandemic buyers.”

• 26% had not planned to get a truck; 15% changed from their plan to buy a car.

• 24% were more likely to be Gen Z or millennials compared with previous truck owners.

• Of the buyers, 56% purchased used and 44% purchased new.

Attitudes about how to use the truck and how to buy it also shifted based on age:

• 40% of Gen Z/millennials had plans for road trips vs. 31% of older buyers.

• 29% of younger buyers wanted to “treat” themselves vs. 18% older buyers.

• 24% of younger buyers paid with stimulus check money vs. 15% older buyers.

Overall, two of three truck owners said they would consider switching truck brands if they could save $10,000, which is consistent with earlier findings this year. The study has been conducted since 2018.

“Affordability continues to be a concern for truck owners,” Gross said.

Overall, about one-third said they’ll probably or definitely own an electric pickup within 10 years.

“It was surprising to see how the overall interest in electric pickups was quite high,” Gross said. “Given that these are just starting to hit the market, it shows that truck owners, and especially younger ones, are really excited about the next generation and upcoming technology for trucks.”

Of the responses, 61% came from owners 39 or younger.

Owners surveyed were 34% Ford, 21% Chevy, 14% Toyota, 10% Dodge, 7% GMC and 14% other.