There are some things Europeans will never understand about the United States: Thanksgiving, air conditioning, pickup trucks.
There are more, of course, but those are the main ones.
There’s an easy explanation for Thanksgiving: food and family are great. So is cold air on hot days. As for America’s deeply rooted truck culture? That’s like trying to explain to a Brit why a game using hands is called football.
Over the last four years, 11 million pickup trucks were sold in the United States. That’s more trucks than people living in Greece, Sweden, or Portugal.
So, how did America become Pickup Nation? As it turns out, many reasons…
America grew up with the car, building infrastructure to accommodate a rapidly growing industry. Europe’s roadmap, on the other hand, is basically retrofitted horsepaths. Europe is also home to more than twice as many people. There simply isn’t enough space for pickups to navigate city centres designed for the traffic of Medieval times. In America, you could fit two Rams in one lane of a six-lane Interstate.
You know that kind of deep winter that comes to mind when you think of Fargo? The vast majority of Europe doesn’t have that. Pretty much half of the United States could get a meter of snow overnight between November and April. You know what’s great in a meter of overnight snow? A truck. With four-wheel drive. Outfitted with a snow plow, just like cultural icon Homer Simpson did.
Europeans believe in experts, while Americans believe in themselves. Ok, that’s a major generalization, but if a do-it-yourself attitude isn’t a pillar of the American Dream, I don’t know what is. Fallen tree out front? In Europe, that’s the state’s responsibility. In America, that’s why they built trucks.
Parking lots are as much a part of the American landscape as McDonald’s and freedom. There are 27 parking spaces per household in Jackson, Wyoming. Almost 20 in Des Moines. That’s a lot of real estate for large vehicles. Another American novelty: huge private driveways, aka more vehicle storage. In Europe, you’ll be lucky to find a parking spot on the street. And good luck squeezing an F-150 within two lines a Smart car length apart. Plus, there are too many pesky World Heritage Sites for sprawling parking lots to really take off.
Historically, the price of gas has been three to four times higher in Europe than in the United States. Also historically, trucks are not renowned for their fuel economy. That’s becoming increasingly less true and will continue to improve with the advent of electric pickups over the next half a decade or so.
This one’s an extension of the previous point. Europeans have a superior propensity for caring about how their actions affect the environment. In Europe, a truck stands for ecological disaster. The same is true in America, except no one really cares. Again, this is changing through cleaner engines and, soon, batteries replacing the fuel tank.
Want vs. Need
Does one need a truck? If you ask a European, and they do not need a truck, they will not buy a truck. If you ask an American, and they also do not need a truck, they will qualify buying one because they want to, damn it. Trucks are powerful, cool, versatile, and safe on the Interstate. Utility simply does not exist in the catalogue of necessary considerations.
The Great Outdoors
Kayaks, ATVs, motorbikes, snowmobiles, surfboards, snowboards, tents, bins full of cables. All of these things exist in Europe, there just aren’t as many places to enjoy them. Nothing screams weekend in ‘Murica like loading up the pickup with all the recreation it can hold and hitting the sticks.