The diesel performance market is feeling the same crunch as anybody right now. Sales hit a new low over the past 12 months; manufacturing has declined as much as consumer spending. But there are some bright spots ahead of us, and that means new opportunities for aftermarket companies to grow and expand and for consumers to see new and innovative product released at competitive prices.
Older diesel trucks have always generated great sales for performance and aftermarket products.
They're cheaper to work on, certain parts need an upgrade anyway, and most importantly, there's no OEM vehicle warranty to worry about voiding.
Each new generation of OEM trucks creates another generation of older trucks. What we'll begin seeing this summer is a fleet of new-generation trucks hitting the dealerships. The 2010 Dodge Ram HDs are already out. Ford has begun manufacturing its new 2011 Super Duty trucks, which should hit dealerships around April. And GM released its next generation of heavy-duty Silverado and Sierra pickups at the Chicago Auto Show. Technically, they're operating on the same federal government timelines that the F/A 22 Raptor was created on, so expect those new trucks to be on the lot anywhere between this summer and spring of 2074.
At the same time, the previous generations of Ford, Dodge and GM diesel pickups are-on average-nearing the ends of their factory warranties. There is a slew of 6.4L Ford Power Strokes, 6.7L Dodge Cummins and 6.6L GM Duramax LMM-equipped trucks that are about to hit the used car lots as the most demanding consumers among us step up to the 2011 models.
Those of us who buy these 6.4L Power Strokes (we bought a used '08 F350 in January), 6.7L Cummins and LMM Duramax trucks aren't going to be as concerned about the balance of the warranty as we are about getting more power, better economy and an altered exterior appearance. And those buyers are also selling third-generation diesel pickups. And so on. you get the idea.
For aftermarket companies, this generation-based swap meet (it happened last time in summer of '07) means a whole new population of consumers looking for performance, economy and cosmetic upgrades for the new-to-you trucks. For you the consumer, it means an expanded offering of parts and accessories for your new-to-you trucks.
If you're hesitant about selling your early-2000 truck to pick up an '07-'09 model for lack of performance options, don't worry. The LMM Duramax is close enough to its predecessors that there are tons of products available to make it faster, get better fuel economy, ride better and look tougher.
And while the 6.7L Cummins may be a new engine, it's still an inline-6 Cummins. Not much has changed as far as turbos, fuel pumps, injectors and other power-adders. And the Dodge Ram didn't change when the engine did, so the doors are wide open for lifts and anything related to the truck itself.
The 6.4L Power Stroke has possibly been the dark horse of the group. Early on, there wasn't much available to make it run better or burn less fuel. And the emissions-related parts were dogging the truck's reputation. But that's all in the past. There is a wide selection of aftermarket parts for this model, from turbo wheel upgrades to tuners and programmers. It's actually one of the easiest trucks to hit 550 rear-wheel horsepower with.
So if you're considering an upgrade from a used-used truck to a used truck, go for it. It's going to be a wild summer.