Sam Parnagian oversees thousands of acres of fresh grapes and mandarin oranges that will be sold at Costco and Sam's Club. Each day, he drives a 2017 F-250 Platinum through California's heartland, the third full-size pickup he has owned. "I bought one Ford and never looked back."
The vice president of operations at Fowler Packing Co. in Fresno, Calif., is a prime example of why the pickup sales streak is likely to continue bolstering profits at Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.
Ford dominates the market, with F-Series truck sales at a 12-year high.
The company benefits from having the newest products in this lucrative segment, an advantage that ends next year with the introduction of Fiat Chrysler's redesigned 2019 Ram pickup at the North American International Auto Show. Shortly after, General Motors will launch updated designs of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
Some observers wonder whether Ford is too dependent on a single segment and what might happen if demand wanes, as occurred in the months before the 2007-09 recession.
But, for now, analysts see no end in sight for the pickup boom.
"There's less risk in the large pickup truck. There's no depreciation," said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive. "If you look at things from an investor standpoint, I don't know that Ford gets credit for just how valuable the truck franchise is."
AutoPacific estimates Americans will buy 2.2 million full-size pickups this year.
"With Ford's average transaction price near $45,000, it's amazing to think about what this does for the economy," said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis at AutoPacific. "Are people buying pickup trucks to drive on different days of the week? Where is Ford finding all these buyers every month willing to plop down that kind of cash? We're not talking about an extra pair of shoes. The F-Series is killing it."
The price of a new F-150 starts at $27,380. The F-Series Super Duty trucks start at $32,535. High-series Super Duty trucks -- Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum -- range from $45,305 to $90,000. Consumers aren't blinking at the prices. In October, the F-Series average transaction price increased $4,000 over a year ago to $47,300. The F-Series Super Duty increased its average transaction $1,600 over a year ago to $55,200.