As the auto industry stays cautiously optimistic and pickup truck sales incrementally march on a soft upward trajectory, there are some obvious bright spots, not the least of which is the strong sales climb Ford's SVT Raptor.
Through July, sales for the all-terrain power truck are up 26 percent compared with last year, and for the month, Raptor is up 36 percent. This puts year-end Raptor sales, in just its third year of production, close to the 13,000-unit mark, something that no one predicted was possible when the truck debuted.
Ford is good about breaking out the Raptor numbers from the F-150 numbers, so we can track its progress (which puts Raptor production at the Dearborn Truck Plant at about 3 Raptors built per hour).
Other specialty power trucks, like the Toyota Tacoma Baja, are produced with a defined sales run, making them something of a special-edition package. The Baja will be limited to just under 5,000 units this year, with approval for the model next year determined by the dealerships. With other trucks, such as the Ram Power Wagon, it's difficult to find out how many of them are sold because that specific option package is not always broken apart from the overall 2500/3500 sales numbers. We assume a truck like the Power Wagon sells enough to justify its existence, but we're pretty sure it's nowhere near the level of Raptor sales.
It remains to be seen whether or not these special-edition four-wheeling option packages are going to get more popular. All we know now is that if Raptor sales keep climbing, we'd assume more manufacturers will try to squeeze into that market segment. For now, they all seem comfortable watching to see what happens.