In a world where news of electric vehicles, hybrids, and fuel economy battles grab headlines, it’s helpful to remember the Ford (NYSE:F) F-Series is the best-selling vehicle in the United States. In fact, demand is spiking so high for the Raptor, the F-Series’s off-road specialist, that Ford is being forced to increase production, reflecting Americans’ unabashed love for high-performance pickups, fuel economy be damned.
Ford announced Wednesday it would ramp up production of its F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition from three cars per hour to five to meet the growing demand. In a world where the average automobile sits on a dealer’s lot for 60 days, the Raptor is gone in 15. Considering the Raptor gets 11 miles per gallon and starts at $44,035, it’s a considerable feat for Ford to have such a popular vehicle. According to company stats, sales of the Raptor are up 14 percent in 2013 compared to last year. Ford says it’s the vehicle’s superior engineering that’s to thank.
“What’s helping drive Raptor sales is that Raptor delivers unmatched off-road performance to our customers,” said Doug Scott, Ford’s truck group marketing manager, in a company statement. On the performance front, the Raptor has a standard 6.2-liter V8 engine capable of generating 411 horsepower on 434 pound-feet of torque. Even though this specialized truck segment isn’t huge, Ford is committing more resources to make sure every customer can find one in stock, a strategy similar to GM’s (NYSE:GM).
“Raptor is also proof of our commitment to offer a truck for every customer and continuously improving them to meet our customers’ evolving needs,” Scott said. As GM gets ready to release its 2015 Chevy Tahoe, Suburban, and GMC Yukon next year, it is clear that U.S. automakers are not shying away from large vehicles as fuel economy becomes a greater concern for domestic consumers.
A look at the auto sales leader board would suggest Ford and GM don’t have to back down from their commitment to big trucks. Three of the top five in sales for 2013 have been pickup trucks, one each from the Detroit Three.
Electric vehicles may be grabbing most of the headlines, but customers who want the full off-road experience are willing to sacrifice fuel economy for raw power and performance. Until they stop buying trucks like the Raptor, Ford will keep delivering them, and do so at a pace of 40 percent more per hour.
Here’s how shares of Ford Motor have traded so far in 2013: