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Associated Press
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said a third shift is being added at a plant that makes Ram pickups.

Housing rise driving uptick in pickup sales

– Auto companies are betting on a surge in pickup sales now that homebuilding is on the rise.

Chrysler said Thursday it is adding 1,000 workers to its Ram pickup factory because it sees higher demand for the redesigned truck.

Ford and General Motors, which has an Allen County truck assembly plant, also say truck sales are climbing fast after several years of small but steady growth.

Truck sales rise or fall with home construction, because they’re the vehicle of choice for contractors and construction crews. And there are growing signs that home construction and prices are rebounding.

For example, government data show builders started construction on homes and apartments at the fastest pace in more than four years in September. They also requested the most building permits in four years, a sign that many are confident that home sales will continue growing.

Another reason sales could surge is the record age of trucks currently on the road. An estimated 53 percent of full-size pickups are now older than 10 years and 27 percent are more than 15 years. Many of those trucks will have to be replaced soon.

Ford’s top U.S. sales analyst Erich Merkle wouldn’t say how much Ford has increased truck production. But Ford’s overall car and truck production is up 7 percent in the fourth quarter to 725,000.

New pickups from GM, due out early next year, will also pique buyers’ interest. GM says it plans to release more details about the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra next month.