Detroit's automakers are strong enough that even Chrysler is turning a profit. The savior? Good ol' fashioned trucks are back.
Remember back before the Great Recession when gas prices surged to well over $4-a-gallon and America's biggest auto companies, so reliant on truck sales, nearly went up in smoke? Well, four years later, Detroit is partying like it's 2005 all over again.
Take Chrysler, long maligned as the biggest basket-case in America's ever-turbulent auto industry. The company has been on a winning streak of late. Last week, it announced its second quarterly profit since 2006. Yesterday, it posted October sales up 27% over last year.
That's a good thing, considering the risk American taxpayers took in salvaging the company as it teetered on collapse in 2009. But Chrysler's success underscores an important point about the state of U.S. car making that's gone largely under the radar: Trucks are back, and they're carrying Detroit to profitability.
Check the numbers. This year, light trucks--which include pickups, SUVs, and crossover vehicles--have made up 64.5% of sales for Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, according to an analysis by LMC Automotive. That's practically back to 2005 figures, when gas cost a dollar less and the families were guzzling their way to a Sun-Belt-suburb economic boom.