Despite suffering a 32% drop in new sales from this time last year, the pickup segment is the second-largest group of registered vehicles in the United States. Data from Experian Automotive shows nearly 51 million pickups registered as of mid-2008 (20.5% of total registrations), trailing only midsize cars, which total 64 million.

Specialty-equipment companies can profit from this trend by focusing their product and service messages to an owner base holding on to its trucks longer and looking for both appearance- and performance-enhancing products for aging vehicles.

Pickup owners are also increasingly looking for fuel savings. In SEMA's recent Automotive Lifestyles Survey (comprised of responses from more than 3,000 enthusiasts who subscribe to automotive magazines and online forums), 63% indicated that they purchased custom parts and accessories in order to increase fuel economy. 

About 25% of survey respondents owned a pickup, with exhaust kits again topping the list of the year's most-purchased specialty equipment (exhaust kits were also the most purchased modification in 2007).

Top 10 Pickup Truck Modifications - Past 12 months - Specialty Equipment Market Association - SEMA eNews

Top 20 pickup truck sales - Specialty Equipment Market Association - SEMA eNews
Exhaust kits, polishes/waxes, air intake and filter replacements are the most popular mods with pickup owners, according to SEMA research. All pickups have taken a sales whipping this year, but the Silverado, F-Series and Honda Ridgeline have fared better than most.

The good news is that the sales slowdown next year should be less pronounced than in 2008. Automotive industry consulting firm AutoPacific forecasts 2009 sales to dip only 5% compared to this year.

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