Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Truck Talk

Here's the thing.

The truck market in America is dwindling. But no, I don't mean sales. Anyone who can read empirical data can tell you the Ford F-150 is still near the top of the sales chart. No, I'm talking about variety. Small trucks as they once were are extinct, and with the death of the Dakota and the next Colorado in stasis, anything smaller than full-size now comes from the Land of the Rising Sun.

As a matter of fact, even most of their mid-size selections are growing to the proportions most full-sized options were just a few years ago. What's worse, the options that are offered have very little to set them apart from each other in any sort of value perspective. Each full-size out right now has three power train choices: the standard engine, the power-over-economy engine, and the mileage play. And what's worse, none of them are particularly stimulating.

No, what the market needs now is a set of small, economic trucks that can be driven to work through the week and make a few utility runs on the weekend. Having a full-size for a few simple errands a week is kind of like using a jackhammer to drive a nail. Yeah, it definitely gets the job done, but ultimately it's overkill.

Full disclosure: I'm not a truck person. But if Chevy were to make a small truck based off the Equinox or Dodge using the new Cherokee platform, i'd be much more apt to give one a chance. Especially if there are performance options like the 2.0T or 3.6 hooked up to a stick, as God intended in a pickup. Better yet, can we get Volkswagen to build a new Caddy and drop the 2.0 TDi in it? Then we could have our first 40MPG pickup.

And that, that's the thing.


  1. In my opinion, standard trucks are simply too cheap/practical.

    If you're in the market for a truck, and look at small trucks that are/have been available. You have to sacrifice far too much utility for the dollar you pay.

    Not being able to haul full sheets of plywood or lumber being the biggest of issues. Sure, you may not need to do this sort of thing every day... but then what is the point in buying a truck at all if it can't do truckish things?

    If any of the major American car manufacturers do decide to get into the small truck market again. I recommend them look at doing one of two options.

    1. The car/truck these sell reasonably well in Australia, and there is no reason why they wouldn't here. They can be fuel efficient and as long as they have a decent sized bed, they don't need to have a very high load rating.

    2. Cab over design like the new Jeep FC concept or the older kei trucks... these are tremendously functional/cheap vehicles especially if the walls on the box fold down.

    1. Like I said, I'm not a truck guy. The appeal of a smaller, road-purposed truck would be the enhanced driving dynamics. For this reason I'm all for the idea of new Utes being developed like you said. The problem is that they never sell. No company will build them for that very reason. And I don't think small, cab-over designs would meet front impact standards.
      If a company were to explore this market, I'm afraid a small, but traditionally designed pickup would be the one with the winning business case.

  2. The only data justifying ute sales in north america is about as old as I am. Given that vehicles such as the smart fortwo can pass, it isn't impossible for over cab designs to be sold.