Study: America Has Hit Peak Pickup Truck Too

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 07:06 PM

Americans are owning fewer cars. (University of Michigan / Michael Sivak)

Univ. of Michigan researcher Michael Sivak has been producing a steady stream of reports hailing the onset of peak car, the high point of American car ownership. Tuesday he released a few more charts hammering home the point and a study showing even pick up truck popularity is on the decline since a peak around 2006. 

Peak car happened somewhere around 2004—maybe as late as 2008 depending on how you measure it. (See charts above and below.)

Either way, the conclusion Sivak suggests is a cultural shift away from car culture. "These reductions likely reflect, in part, noneconomic changes in society that influence the need for vehicles (e.g., increased telecommuting, increased use of public transportation, increased urbanization of the population, and changes in the age composition of drivers)," he writes. 

Sivak's paper, "Has Motorization in the U.S. Peaked? Part 2," posted to the Univ. of Michigan website Tuesday shows how the peak car phenomenon applies to light-duty vehicles as well. That classification includes small commercial trucks, vans, SUVs and pickups, exactly the auto segments you might expect to be resistant to cultural shifts against driving. The people who rely on them need vehicles for work or are more likely to live in rural or suburban areas where giving up a car in favor of transit is less feasible. But nonetheless, peak pickup has also come, he argues. 

The peak for miles driven of light-duty vehicles was 2006, 2.77 trillion miles. In 2011, it was 2.65 trillion, a decrease of 5 percent. Similar trends apply to vehicle ownership. "We now have fewer light-duty vehicles and we drive each of them less than a decade ago," he writes. 


Comments [3]

raka from mumbai

motorization in US has peaked at very all time high as vehicle such as Handyman

Aug. 22 2013 12:28 AM
atco from india

light weight duty vehilces such as Handymanwhich provide assistance to small scale operations come in handy.

Aug. 21 2013 02:04 AM
Irvin Dawid from Burlingame, Ca.

The first report (released in June) also applied to light duty vehicles:
Report No. UMTRI-2

"This study examined recent trends in the numbers of light-duty vehicles(cars, pickup trucks,
SUVs, and vans) in the U.S. fleet. The analysis considered both the absolute numbers and the
rates per person, per licensed driver, and per household. The period examined was from 1984
through 2011."

It's late here in Calif, but from a quick read - it would appear that part I in June dealt with light duty vehicle ownership, and Tuesday's study deals with light duty VMT - is that right? Is he stating that prior VMT studies failed to include light duty trucks (pickups, minivans, SUVs)?

Jul. 23 2013 10:50 PM

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