It's clear that Americans love our pickup trucks. They're a multibillion-dollar part of the industry that have spurred the so-called truck wars among manufacturers.
But just how much we love them might be surprising: More than coffee. More than bingewatching. Even more than sex.
In preparation for the release of a redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 earlier this week, Ford Motor Co. commissioned an online survey of 2,000 owners to find out just how deep their passions run.
For many of the owners, the pickups are as important to life as air and water.
People surveyed revealed that instead of giving up their truck for a year:
• 79% would give up drinking alcohol.
• 82% would give up Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.
• 71% would give up drinking coffee.
• 47% would give up their smartphone.
• 44% would give up meat.
• 38% would give up sex.
The study's results didn't surprise John McElroy, host of Autoline.tv and longtime industry observer.
"Pickup owners are the most loyal in the business," he said. "You've probably seen the bumper stickers, 'I'd rather push a Ford than drive a Chevy.' It's hopeless to try and get them to switch brands. To them that's treason."
Auto historian Matt Anderson said history reflects this passion.
"As early as the mid-1920s, sociologists discovered that many working Americans were willing to cut back on food and clothing to make car payments," said Anderson, curator of transportation at the Henry Ford Museum. "Our trucks and cars are our freedom. The recent COVID lockdowns only reinforced the idea that Americans consider mobility a birthright."
And we take our vehicles personally. The study revealed that 25% of truck owners have named their pickups.
Owners are quick to use their trucks to help friends and relatives. (Thus the roots of the saying, "You don't need to own a truck, but you do need to know someone who does.")
The survey found that 94% of truck owners have used their truck to help others.
Tim Gabriel, 37, a production manager, has helped friends move from house to house, hauled trailers and picked up store purchases for people whose cars are too small.
He added, "It makes trips to grandpa's and grandma's a lot easier to haul stuff with kids. That's how I sold my wife on the idea."
And not to be overlooked is the image of the truck owner. In describing the feelings they experience, owners used the terms capable (48%), dependable (48%), self-reliant (43%), proud (35%) and accomplished (21%).
"People feel cool and powerful sitting up high," said Jonathan Klinger, vice president of Hagerty, the world's largest insurer of collector vehicles. "And, being able to tow or haul for yourself adds to the feeling of freedom and independence we all love."
These days, trucks command almost an "awe," said Karl Brauer, former executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book.
Gabriel certainly feels that way about his truck.
"Every time you park it, you look back at it because you love it so much," he said.