Truck sales increase fueled by home building

7:56 PM, Sep 4, 2012   |    comments
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Increases in new home construction are helping to increase pickup truck sales.

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- New home starts were up 45.5% in Kent County through June of 2012 versus the same period last year, and that activity is one of the factors fueling a healthy boost in August pickup truck sales.

Ford and Chrysler Tuesday both reported light truck sales were up 19%, while General Motors was up 6%.

Tim Noyes at K & M Northfield Dodge has noticed the traffic and improved confidence among his small business customers. 

"Definitely the confidence is there to where they're coming back into the marketplace and looking at new trucks and buying new trucks, as you can see with our numbers," Noyes said Tuesday.

Jim Gillette, a Cascade auto industry analyst with IHS Global, said the housing recovery is one factor driving the boost in pickup sales.   Other factors are the improved fuel efficiency of the trucks, robust sales in areas with strong energy-driven economies, and the aging fleet.

The average age of vehicles driven today is nearly 11 years old.  Gillette says that aging fleet is "almost forcing current pickup owners in the showrooms."

Bill Roersma, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids, says the home building pickup is welcome. 

"I see it steady across the board," said Roersma.  "Subcontractors were getting good buyers, people seeking bids on plans.  The traffic is coming to us."

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