U.S. automakers expect sales of pickup trucks to surge as housing market improves image

Carmakers are betting on a potential pickup truck sales surge as the housing market improves in the U.S.

While Ford and General Motors both report sales increases, Chrysler has added 1,000 workers to its Ram pickup truck plant. As home building is on the rise, automakers have reasons to believe pickup sales will increase as well.

Traditionally, truck sales rise or fall with home construction, since pickup trucks are the preferred vehicles for contractors and construction crews. Currently there are growing signs that home construction and prices are seeing a steady recovery, according to Tom Libby, a forecasting analyst for the Polk research firm.

September government data shows builders started construction on homes and apartments at the fastest pace in more than four years. They also requested the most building permits in four years, a sign that many are confident that home sales will continue growing. Another encouraging sign is the fact that home prices are rising in many markets.

Another reason for an increase in truck sales is the record age of pickup trucks currently in use. 53 percent of full-size pickups are now older than 10 years and 27 percent are more than 15 years, said Ford Americas president Mark Fields. It is obvious many of those trucks will have to be replaced soon.