There's an old, twangy Jimmie Rodgers song called "T for Texas." These days, the "T" would have to stand for "trucks." Trucks for Texas.
We talk a lot about the automobile industry. But the fact is, millions and millions of Americans don't buy cars at all. They buy small trucks, especially "pickups." They're the ones with an enclosed cab for the driver and passengers and a flat, open bed in the back to carry lumber, your old refrigerator, maybe a small tree or two. Today's pickups come with fancy features, and they earn the auto companies a lot of money. By some estimates, Ford's F-series pickup trucks account for a full half of that company's profits every year.
Texans buy more than 300,000 pickups each year. That's partly because they have a lot of barbed wire, hay bales, and hunting dogs to cart around. But city folks in Dallas and Houston, Fort Worth and San Antonio drive them, too, because Texas, cowboy boots, and pickup trucks seem just right together.
Which is why the big auto companies outdo each other to show off the biggest, strongest pickups they can roll out at the annual Texas State Fair. Last month, fairgoers beheld a Ford F-450 Super Duty pickup perched high atop an oil derrick. Whichever automaker wins Texas wins the hearts of rugged truck buyers nationwide, the fair's general manager told the Wall Street Journal.
Just this month, the Japanese company Toyota opened a $1.2 billion U.S. assembly plant to build its big, tough, Tundra-model pickup trucks. You can guess where the plant is located. Think "T for Texas."