Are Pickup Trucks Worth It? I’d buy one


A pickup truck is a vehicle with a cargo portion and a people portion. If a vehicle has only a people portion, it is defined as a car. The differentiating feature is the cargo portion. The need to transport cargo daily would necessitate considering the pickup truck as the best option to select. If we only require infrequent cargo transport, we should consider renting a pickup as required or using a cargo delivery service.

An asset has to be optimally utilized to extract the best value. A pickup truck is deemed an asset when it earns its worth by generating benefits you cannot live without. For a farmer or building contractor, the pickup truck is an asset.

My long-winded reasoning is meant to challenge the concept of owning everything we need. If you need cargo transported once per week, why own a pickup truck. You go fishing once a year, are you going to buy a boat? You go on a European vacation every year and yet you don’t have to buy an airplane.

The billions of dollars spent by companies making you believe that you will not be able to function without their product has created this concept of ownership. Let’s look at the need for owning a pickup truck and whether it is worth it?

Silverado truck

Thinking Critically About Owning A Pickup Track

The herd mentality that the Baby-Boomers developed during the post-war era resulted in the status quo. The newly rich have embraced the comfort of owning a vehicle that they only use for two hours per day.

In transporting goods, trucking companies will lease or purchase the vehicles required and utilize these vehicles continuously. The truck or airplane will only be stationary when loading or off-loading cargo, taking on fuel and crew or when the vehicle requires preventative maintenance. It is termed “Sweating the Asset.”

Such companies’ critical success criteria are operational efficiency, cost per mile, delivery cost per kilogram or cubic meter. Transportation services have become highly efficient systems of moving people or goods at the most cost-efficient and safest means possible.

We should apply the same analytical thinking to our decisions regarding our mobility needs. If all you need is to travel between home and work for five days per week, taking the garden refuse to the town dump on a Saturday, and going to Church on a Sunday, you certainly do not need to own a car or pickup truck.

Now assume that you are a self-employed handyman offering your services to do home repairs. You now need a vehicle with which to transport your tools and material to different locations every day. You may also need to pick up your employees in the morning to take them to the worksite. While they are busy with the contracted work on-site, you can use the vehicle to go and do assessments and quotes for new work.

Your pickup truck is now doing what it has been designed for. You could live without it, but your work-life complexity would be significantly increased. The cost of ownership can also be deducted as a pre-tax business expense, making your investment less costly.

I have often heard the statement in jest from ardent anglers that the best boat to have, is your friend’s boat. The National Aeronautical Space Administration no longer uses its own expensive launch vehicles to take research equipment to outer space. They rent cargo space on Spacex and save themselves billions of dollars in the process.

We need to apply the same critical thinking when analyzing our transportation and mobility needs. We have discovered the work-from-home convenience and efficiency during the Covid-19 lockdowns, and we need to explore other ways to minimize waste in our daily routines.

Pickup trucks are handy vehicles, but do you need to own one? Ownership entails more than just the monthly repayment and includes the cost of fuel, scheduled maintenance, insurance, accident repairs, annual licensing fees, and unforeseen expenses like traffic violations.

The intelligent deployment of our hard-earned money can be the difference between living a comfortable life within your means or the persistent worry of having to pay all the bills. The self-inflicted slavery of working and living from month to month is quite common, even in a wealthy country like the U.S.

How To Do A Mobility Needs Analysis?

Careful planning is the key to any mission. The questions which you and your family have to agree upon are some of the following.

What is the number of individual trips needed to get each family member to their place of work or school each day? Include extramural activities. Which options exist to cover some or all of these trips? Is there a bus route to school and work? Are there other modes of public transport available? Is a vehicle required by one of the breadwinners to enable the performance of their jobs? Can a vehicle be shared for shared trips to similar destinations?

What would it cost to use a mobility service provider like Uber to take care of all or some of your mobility needs? Can you shop online for groceries and have them delivered to your home?

If you have answered all of these questions honestly without steering your responses towards a predetermined outcome, and you still need to own or lease a vehicle, then decide whether you need a car or a pickup truck.

Are Pickup Trucks Worth It?

If you cannot perform your work without the full-time availability and use of a pickup truck, then it is worth it. You will be working it for all it is worth and ensuring that it performs the intended purpose.

You could drop the children off at their bus stop or school on your way to picking up your co-workers from your workshop. A crew-cab pickup can be used to transport your team, their tools, and materials to the job site. After getting the job up and running, you could visit new potential clients to generate new business.

At the end of the day, you can reverse the cycle of dropping staff off at a bus or train station, collecting the children from aftercare, and heading home. You can still use the pickup after hours to do shopping or run other errands. The pickup can be used as a family vehicle to attend sports activities or other community events on weekends.

If your pickup is operational for 8 hours in a 24-hour cycle, you will still only use it for 33.33% of the day. During the remaining 66.67% of the day, the pickup truck will be idle. You could hire a driver that could use it for after-hour deliveries and thus increase the utilization. I am attempting to encourage you to think creatively about your mobility needs and find more efficient ways to achieve them.

Conclusion

In the third quarter of 2019, the number of active vehicles registered in the U.S. numbered 300 million for 330 million people. Implying that there is almost one vehicle for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. (0.91 per capita).

In China and India, there is one vehicle for every ten people. What would the world look like if the people in China and India all decided to own vehicles? It is time to start thinking differently about mobility.

Pickup trucks can be worth owning, but you need to justify whether you will use them optimally or for your convenience.

If you are considering a used Pickup or indeed any used vehicle, it’s always worth investing just a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.

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John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, and I've worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Landrover, and Jaguar dealerships. My passion is cars. I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of car ownership, including buying advice, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

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