Why All Is Lost: Ford Sells an F150 Every 35 Seconds

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Promo image. Ford/ Big truck towing big boat in front of big house

The future we want: Big trucks, big houses and big boats.

The Ford F150 is the best selling vehicle in the USA. Ford isn’t even going to bother selling cars anymore, it sells so many of these. According to Automotive News, Ford is on track to its best year ever, shattering a 14 year record.

The automaker sold more than 450,000 of its F-series line — one every 35 seconds — from January through June. That's 4.2 percent more than in the first half of 2004, when it set an annual record of 939,511.

Ford keeps jazzing up the pickups as well, making them more car-like. Analyst Rebecca Lindland explains that demand is drive by people “who don't necessarily use them for hauling and towing.”

"More consumers see pickup trucks as a daily driver," she said. "With all the luxury content, people feel they can take their family out for a nice dinner in it and not be ashamed. It's not just a work truck anymore."

Fuel Economy

US Department of Energy/Public Domain

The problem is that even with their lightweight aluminum bodies, these big pickups drink a lot of gasoline and depending on configuration, get between 16 and 21 miles per gallon. That is well below the fleet average of 25.2 MPG. Given how long these things last, that consumption and the CO2 output could be locked in for 15 years.

Meanwhile, Angie Schmitt of Streetsblog tweets:

I am not so sure it's because how much Americans drive; Canadians pay more for gas and have lower average incomes, and live at low densities, yet spend a lower percentage of annual income on gas. It has to be more of what Americans drive -- bigger, fancier, thirstier SUVs and pickups. And they just get bigger and fancier:

The even-more profitable Super Duty was redesigned for the 2017 model year. Last year, Ford introduced an F-450 that tops the $100,000 price threshold. It appears consumers are willing to pay for more upscale trucks; through June, the top two trims represented about half of this year's Super Duty retail sales, Ford said.

I could not find official MPG ratings for the F-450 but Fuelly.com’s “real world” rating came out at 10.4 MPG.

So even if the government stuck to the CAFE standards set by the Obama administration, which are going out the tailpipe, we are still baking in this massive amount of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for the life of these cars. We would still be fracking and drilling our brains out for decades to come just to feed them.

It’s why I sigh when I read posts like Sami’s Electric vehicles alone could cause peak oil demand within decade; it’s a fantasy. Ford sold 4 times as many F-150s as all the electric cars sold in the USA and Chevy sold almost as many.

A house behind sandbags on North Topsail Beach, NC photo

Sami Grover/CC BY 2.0

I suppose a virtue of these pickups is that they will be very useful moving the sandbags needed to deal with rising waters, or the firefighting equipment out west, or for packing up the family the coming great migration back north. They are not totally useless.