20080826 ford assembly line 18
Ford Expedition SUVs go through the assembly line at the Ford Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Michigan. Ford is investing $75 million to prepare the plant to convert to small-vehicle production, planned for 2010. - 


Renita Jablonski: Detroit's big auto makers will announce U.S. sales figures today. Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson reports.

Ford Ad: OK: Odds are if you're one of the people in America with a pick-up truck, it ain't a luxury, it's a way of life.

Jeremy Hobson: This is Ford's latest pitch for its monster pick-up truck, the F-150. The company said last week it'll re-hire 1,000 employees and ramp up production.

Joe Phillippi is president of Auto Trends Consulting. He says Ford's move doesn't mean auto makers are reversing course because of falling gas prices.

Joe Phillippi: They'll get plenty of years going forward out of big pick-ups and SUVs, but the market is going to be a lot smaller than it was in the past.

Phillippi says demand for giant vehicles will mostly come from those who actually need them. He says auto makers are well aware of that.

Phillippi: They're deathly afraid of zigging when the market suddenly starts zagging, but a broad array of consumers have truly changed their attitude.

He says even if gas prices go low and stay there, consumers aren't currently inclined toward big, expensive vehicles.

In New York, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson