Pickup accessories take off

AS THE Big Three American automakers — General Motors, Ford Motor Co and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group — have lost out to Asian brands in the small and mid-sized car market, pickups have been a critical source of profit.

And pickup truck owners are accessorizing by purchasing various pieces of specialty equipment.

According to Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) research, most new-vehicle buyers begin to modify their rides within the first three months of ownership. Results from SEMA's Automotive Lifestyles survey shows that trailer hitches and bedliners are among the top 20 accessories purchased by automotive enthusiasts who drive pickup trucks.

Trailer hitches were purchased by 42.9% of the owners (fourth on the top 20 list), and bedliners were purchased by 39.3% (seventh on the list). Window tinting and CD players/changers were tied for first at 46%, followed by floor mats (45.2%).

According to SEMA, 75% of automotive accessories purchased by Americans are bought for light trucks (pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs).

Who are they?

SEMA's “2005 Light-Truck Personalization Report” investigates a group of slightly more than 1700 pickup truck owners, half of whom have spent, or plan to spend, at least $500 accessorizing their trucks. Who are these pickup truck owners?

The majority of the truck owners surveyed are between the ages of 35 and 64, with a mean age of 46.67 years. The Toyota Tundra seems to be the least popular choice for those between the ages of 18 and 24, while the Cadillac Escalade EXT is the most popular choice for those 55 years old or more.

The results indicate that Silverado owners have the lowest education level, while owners of the Escalade and Tundra have the highest education level — 66% of those surveyed have had some college education, or less. Only 12% have obtained post-graduate degrees.

In a survey conducted in 1999, 32.8% of the truck owners had some college education, 22% were college graduates, and 9.4% had post-graduate degrees. The 2004 results reveal an increase in truck owners with post-graduate degrees (12%), a decrease in truck owners with some college education (30%), and an equal percentage of truck owners with college degrees (22%).

The majority of the pickup truck owners have an income between $50,000 and $99,000. The mean incomes for Escalade EXT, Avalanche, and Tundra owners are all above the mean income level of $81,992, with the mean income for Escalade owners being the highest.

In 1999, the income levels were broken up differently, so the categories have been combined for comparison: 8.2% of the truck owners had incomes of less than $25,000; 21.5% of truck owners had incomes between $25,000 and $49,999. And a total of 51.2% of the truck owners had incomes of $50,000 or more. In comparison, in 2004, the truck owners in the $50,000-and-over range represent 74%, an increase of 23%.

Males comprise 89.6% of the truck owners, while only 10.4% are female.

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