Ask folks what vehicle category houses the worst gas guzzlers and emissions producers, the answer is often: Pickup trucks. And because light-duty pickups are the biggest sellers in the industry, across all categories, they’re an easy target.
What’s more, when it comes to pointing the finger at those actually buying these heavy polluters, the finger is often pointed at older motorists. But wait a minute: a recent study reported on by CNBC shows that this is not actually completely accurate, at least not anymore. In fact, Millennials (roughly, those born between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 90s) now make up the biggest buying group of pickup trucks.
This is not really a surprising development. Consider, for one, that a pickup truck is for many a work tool. And many Baby Boomers have now reached the age of retirement, and sure enough many of them are switching to other vehicle formats. Millennials, in contrast, are right in the phase of life when they might most need the qualities a truck can deliver.
In a wider sense, the nature of demographic groups and their aging means that it’s inevitable that each generation will eventually be outpaced by the next when it comes to purchases; one generation matures and achieves wealth while another gradually takes its leave from the leaderboard of consumer groups.
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What’s notable with this study, however, is that Millennials have embraced pickup trucks at an unexpectedly quick rate, according to Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power. “Demographic information moves very slowly, but last year Millennials took over in April during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. We thought it was kind of a blip, but it’s only increased since then,” he told CNBC.
According to J.D. Power’s data, Millennials' purchases have surpassed those of Baby Boomers in the full-size pickup segment and will soon surpass those of Generation X for mid-size models. This follows a broader trend, as Millennials have become the largest generation of new vehicle buyers in the U.S. since last year, as reported by the New York Times.
Interestingly, Millennials also represent the largest market for electric vehicles. Younger Millennials account for 35 percent of purchases, with Gen Xers and Baby Boomers accounting for only 26 percent and 29 percent respectively. However, in the luxury segments, where prices are much higher, the older generation still dominates - which is also somewhat normal.
Another interesting contribution to the debate was brought by Forbes, which made the point that due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, many Millennials have turned to camping and pickup trucks for domestic travel.
Certainly, for manufacturers, this only reinforces their commitment to producing more pickup trucks. And with electric models on the way, combined with Millennials' greater interest in this type of powertrain, we could see an explosion of sales in the segment.
See also: Top 10: Electric Pickups We're Eagerly Awaiting in 2021 and 2022