Suicide by Overkill

pickups In a story that provides more evidence that, as the late Marvin Harris argued and virtually all modern “culture” theorists and most would-be car critics ignore, ideas tend to follow rather than lead infrastructural circumstances, it seems that Peak Oil has begun to kill the Old West/redneck marketing appeal of the pickup truck in the United States. Seems that GM has so over-produced pickups that its dealers are now in possession of enough stock to last them through year’s end.

The reason for this overstock, of course, was GM’s hope that reality would continue on as always. “We thought that this year would bring back the kind of economic activity that would translate into us selling more trucks,” a GM dealer tells Automotive News.

Why that particular hope? Because, vis-a-vis the question of transportation efficiency, pickup trucks and SUVs are double-overkill, and hence much more profitable to capitalists than small, more rational automobiles. Because they pile on even more unnecessary equipment and material than do passenger cars, “Pickups generate more profit per vehicle than passenger cars, analysts say.”

Of course, this is hardly a landslide yet. As Automotive News reports, “Full-size pickups are still the two top-selling vehicles in the U.S. Ford sold 264,079 F-Series in the year’s first half, a 9.9 percent increase, while customers bought 182,785 of GM’s Silverado, a gain of 9.6 percent. The volumes are much lower than before the recession and the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler Group LLC.”

And why do I say pickup equipment is unnecessary?

Percent of pickup owners who never haul items in the truck bed: 27
Additional percent who do so less than monthly: 30

[Note: The above statistics are from the 2005 “Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey” done by R.L. Polk for the Environmental Defense Fund.  For some reason, this piece of research seems to have been disappeared from the whole internet, including the EDF’s website.]

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[…] percent of pickup trucks are used once a month or less to haul anything.  83 percent are used for towing once a month or less, 37 percent […]