Soaring Sales for Pickup Trucks, Tablets

May 2, 2013 7:55am

Morning Business Memo…

Pickup truck sales are really picking up. Ford is adding 2,000 jobs at a Missouri plant just outside Kansas City to keep up with growing demand for pickup trucks. The company says it will add another shift with 900 workers in the third quarter of this year. That’s on top of 1,100 workers it’s adding in the fourth quarter to build its new Transit van.

Ford’s F-Series is the best-selling vehicle in the US, with more than 228,000 sold through April. Sales jumped 24 percent in April compared with the year before. Chrysler says Ram pickup truck sales soared 49 percent. GM’s sales of the GMC Sierra and Silverado rose more than 20 percent. A big reason for the rise is the recent revival in construction jobs with tradesmen and small construction firms replacing their old trucks.

We love our tablets. As sales of personal computers slide, International Data Corp. reports a surge for the tablet market. Global shipments of tablet computers more than doubled in the first quarter of this year, says IDC. The worldwide total of more than 49 million tablets was more than the number of tablets shipped in the first half of 2012. Apple is the world’s largest seller of tablets with nearly 40 percent of the market.

A bold prediction about tablets from BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins. “In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” said at a conference, according to Bloomberg News. “Tablets themselves are not a good business model,” said Heins. Certainly not for Blackberry, which had very disappointing sales after launching the PlayBook.

The first Chinese-owned vehicle manufacturer in the United States has announced plans to build as many as 1,000 electric buses a year at a refurbished RV manufacturing plant in the Mojave Desert. BYD officials in California said the plant should produce the first 10 of its plug-in buses next year. The buses will be powered by BYD’s own rechargeable batteries.

Wind energy turbines are getting smarter. The new “brilliant” turbine announced by General Electric will communicate with the power grid, and each other, reports the news site qz.com. The turbines can “adjust electricity production while storing and releasing electricity as needed.”  The first three GE turbines are to be installed at a Texas wind farm operated by Invenergy. “The turbine’s software captures tens of thousands of data points each second on wind and grid conditions and then adjusts production, storing electricity in an attached 50 kilowatt-hour sodium nickel chloride battery,” says qz. If the wind dies down the electricity can be released from the battery and sent to the power grid.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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