Younger buyers a main factor in 2020 pandemic pickup truck demand


The COVID-19 pandemic may have helped spur pickup truck sales over the course of 2020.

The main reason for that trend: younger car shoppers.

That is one finding from the CarGurus 2020 Pickup Truck Sentiment Study. The study examines how COVID-19 has had an impact on sentiment related to the pickup truck segment.

The study shows optimism regarding pandemic truck purchasers, but it also showed what it described as “potential headwinds” for the segment. One of those is that affordability issues have continuously pushed owners out of the pickup truck category. Seventeen percent of truck owners say they probably won’t buy another truck.

The research covers which car shopper segments have purchased a pickup truck during the pandemic. It shows pickup truck owners’ thoughts on electric pickup trucks and affordability within the vehicle category.

But the impact of younger shoppers is a main finding, and the study shows that pandemic truck buyers were 24% more likely to be Generation Z or millennial. 

Forty percent of younger truck buyers were also more likely to say that the vehicle was for road trips. That compared to 31% of other pandemic buyers.

Twenty-nine percent of younger truck buyers said the purchase was to treat themselves, versus 18% for other pandemic buyers. And 24% were more likely to cite their stimulus check as a driver to purchase the truck, versus 15% for other pandemic buyers.

For the study, CarGurus surveyed 1,081 pickup truck owners in September on their sentiments toward truck brands, prices, electric trucks, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another “headwind” in the category is that despite younger shoppers’ new interest in pickup trucks, 20% of current Gen  Z/millennial truck owners said they probably won’t buy another one. Twelve percent of older truck owners answered the same way.

Sixty-six percent of truck owners say they would switch brands if their preferred brand increased prices by $10,000.

Another finding from the study shows a possible bright future for the segment: Current truck owners are excited about electric pickups. Also according to the data, younger truck owners seem to prefer the newer electric truck brands:  In September, 34% of current truck owners say they will probably or definitely own an electric pickup truck in the next 10 years and 23% in the next five years.

CarGurus said those results are consistent with pre-pandemic results from February, which showed 33% and 22%, respectively.

Gen Z/millennial truck owners, at 30%, are more than two times more likely to expect to own an electric truck in the next five years when compared to older truck owners. 

Younger consumers are also two times more likely to consider a truck from category-newcomers like Tesla, Rivian, or Hummer when compared to older truck owners.

“Our study shows a tale of two different pickup truck trends. While there is certainly excitement for these vehicles among consumers, that is offset by those that have affordability concerns,” CarGurus director of customer insights Madison Gross said in a news release. “The data shows that younger truck buyers are coming into the market, but the question remains how long they will stay both with their brand and with the category for the long term.” 

Before the pandemic, were you planning to buy a pickup truck in 2020?
(Among those who purchased in the past six months)


Total pandemic buyers

Gen Z/Millennial
pandemic buyers
pandemic buyers
Yes, I was planning to buy a pickup truck this year prior to the initial spread of the pandemic 74% 73% 77%
No, I was planning to buy a car prior to the initial spread of the pandemic, but later decided to buy a pickup truck instead 15% 17% 8%
No, I was not planning to buy any vehicle but decided to buy a pickup truck after the initial spread of the pandemic 11% 10% 14%

SOURCE: Chart and data from CarGurus.

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