Why Are Destination Fees for Pickups Picking Up?

6a017ee6664cf9970d0240a4cd0c8f200b-800wi.jpeg graphic by Paul Dolan

The destination fee, a customary charge on any new vehicle sold in the U.S., has ballooned in recent years, and no more so than on full-size pickup trucks. Less than $1,000 as recently as 2012, such fees for the full-size, light-duty pickups from the Detroit Three have ballooned past $1,500 apiece today.

What Is a Destination Fee?

A destination fee is the cost to ship the vehicle from its assembly plant to the dealership by sea or land, or some combination of the two. Averaged across all dealerships, the fee is seldom different regardless of how close the showroom is to the assembly plant, though some automakers charge a higher rate for shipments to Alaska or Hawaii.

Why Are Pickup Truck Destination Fees So High?

Experts point to many factors: higher wages, pricier trucks and insurance, and fewer shipping personnel — plus larger vehicles that reduce the number that can fit on a truck.

For Ram parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, higher fees are part of the territory on much of its lineup. Ford and GM charge lower fees for many models that aren't pickups, especially their sedans and hatchbacks. Any way you slice it, the full-size trucks have some of the steepest fees among mass-market cars: $1,595 for the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ford F-150, and an eye-watering $1,695 on the Ram 1500.

Pickup trucks might showcase the most extreme increase in destination fees, but they indicate a larger trend: Among the 10 best-selling cars from 2013 to 2019, by Automotive News' tally, sales-weighted destination fees have increased nearly 45 percent, from $899 in 2013 to $1,289 today. That's despite new-car transaction prices increasing only about 16 percent over the same period, while general inflation is up just 10 percent. It's also despite the price of diesel fuel, a major component of shipping costs, falling in that same span.

For a deeper dive, head to to learn more about why destination fees are way up.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

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