By on October 1, 2012
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Close your eyes and imagine it’s 1979. A first-term Democratic president struggles with unemployment, malaise, high energy prices, and embassy trouble. The landscape of today looks like the landscape of then, but there’s one important thing missing: The compact pickup. Where did they go? The small pickup was an indelible symbol of America’s lowered expectations in the Seventies and Eighties. Now that crappy times are here again, where are the paper-thin truck beds and wheezy-but-indestructible four-cylinders to pull them?

As car guys, we tend to view things through a certain lens; the design and performance characteristics of a car are what’s considered important. The proliferation of cars and trucks that are antithetical to these characteristics, like crossovers and larger, heavier passenger cars, are something that we’ve collectively lamented for some time. But to understand why this has happened, we need to view product decisions through the lens of CAFE and its incentives. The choices of American consumers are a factor; we like to buy pickups and SUVs, no doubt. But what if the government’s decisions played a part in moving the market, and the very laws set up to ostensibly promote more fuel efficient vehicles ended up doing the opposite?

CAFE for Decaf drinkers

CAFE (industry short hand for Corporate Average Fuel Economy) came as a result of the 1973 oil embargo, as a means to mandate fuel economy targets for cars and light trucks. Over the last four decades, the standards have evolved, with the latest iteration being the targets set for fuel economy in the year 2025. The 2025 targets were released this summer, and comprise a 1,944 page tome full of arcane language and legalese that, while essential for understanding CAFE, are totally inaccessible to the general public. No wonder, as our Editor Emeritus Ed Niedermeyer wrote

“…only a handful of experts truly understand the details of CAFE compliance, with its complex system of footprint-based categories, formula and credits.”

One of CAFEs biggest impacts in recent times has manifested itself in how auto makers classify products. Under CAFE, vehicles can be labeled “passenger cars” or “light trucks”, with the latter category required to meet less stringent standards for fuel economy and CO2 emissions. A decade ago, the Chrysler PT Cruiser was the most egregious example of this.

( N.B. CAFE uses the EPA’s unadjusted fuel economy standard, so the mpg values discussed in relation to CAFE bear little resemblance to the real world values used on Monroney stickers and common discourse on fuel economy. For our purposes, we’ll refer to the fuel economy numbers we are familiar with as “In Real Life” (IRL)  to distinguish them from the CAFE numbers. )

Despite being based on a Neon platform and retaining the dimensions of a compact car, it was classified as a light truck by NHTSA.  The PT Cruiser was designed to meet NHTSA standards for classification as a light truck, for the express purpose of raising Chrysler’s light truck average fuel economy. At the time, the minimum fleet average for passenger cars was 27.5 mpg CAFE, while for light trucks it was 20.7 mpg CAFE. A small, four-cylinder vehicle like the PT Cruiser was effectively a “ringer” for Chrysler’s fleet average. The year 2000 CAFE targets discussed above translate to 21 mpg IRL for passenger cars and 15 mpg IRL for light trucks.  A “light truck” like the PT would obviously have no trouble surpassing these standards.

In 2006, CAFE altered the formula for its 2011 fuel economy targets, by calculating a vehicle’s “footprint”, which is the vehicle’s wheelbase multiplied by its wheel track. The footprint is expressed in square feet, and calculating this value is probably the most transparent part of the regulations. Fuel economy targets are a function of a vehicle’s footprint; the smaller the footprint, the tougher the standards are. A car such as the Honda Fit, with its footprint of 40 square feet, has to achieve 61 mpg CAFE, or 43 mpg IRL by 2025 to comply with regulations. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a full-size truck like the Ford F-150, with a footprint of 75 square feet, only needs to hit 30 mpg CAFE, or 23 mpg IRL, by the same timeframe.

How the fix is in

On the surface, the footprint requirements can be viewed as logical; a compact, fuel-efficient car like the Honda Fit, should be able to hit tougher targets, by virtue of its small size, aerodynamic profile and powertrain choices. Without any advanced technology like direct-injection, lightweight steel or aluminum construction or even low-rolling resistance tires, it manages a respectable 28/35 mpg IRL, while offering a practical, fun-to-drive package. The Ford F-150 has a very different mission; it must be large, durable, powerful and able to meet the needs of a full-size pickup, and will naturally be less conducive to achieving the kind of fuel economy that a Fit can.

Unfortunately, the footprint method has the opposite effect; rather than encouraging auto makers to strive for unprecedented fuel economy in their passenger car offerings, it has incentivized auto makers to build larger cars, in particular, more car-based crossovers that can be classified as “trucks” as used to skew fleet average figures, much the same way the PT Cruiser did. Full-size trucks have become a “protected class”, safe from the most aggressive targets, while compact trucks have become nearly extinct as a result.

Real world examples

Before we can delve into the demise of compact trucks, we need to examine how the footprint formula works, and how it allowed the car-based crossover to usurp the station wagon as America’s family hauler of choice.

The footprint is expressed graphically via the “curve”, which plots a vehicle’s footprint on the X axis and CAFE mpg on the Y axis. There are different graphs for cars and light trucks, and as we’ll see below, a car and a light truck with identical footprints are subject to very different standards. (N.B. the full document is available here, with the full-size curve graphs on page 29 and 30)

A concrete example of this phenomenon is Volvo’s decision to do away with the traditional wagon at the start of this decade. Wagons are what put Volvo on the map in North America. The rear-drive 200, 700 and 900 wagons held universal appeal for their durability and sportiness, while the 850 and V70 cemented their place in the mainstream, as a car for those who were upper-middle class, or aspiring to be.

Volvo’s current lineup offers two SUVs, the XC60 and XC90 and one pseudo-wagon, the XC70. The XC70 is virtually identical to the V70, Volvo’s stalwart station wagon, save for some extra ground clearance and lower body cladding. But while the V70 was classified as a passenger car, the XC70 joins its siblings as a “sports utility vehicle” according to the EPA. The fuel economy of the entire XC lineup is far from stellar. The best XC models, the front drive variants of the XC60 and XC70 with the naturally aspirated 3.2L inline-six engine, return 19/25 mpg IRL. The V70, in 2010 (its final year of sale for North America) returned 18/27 mpg IRL. All three vehicles have footprints of 48 square feet. The key difference is that while the V70 is a passenger car, the XC models are light trucks, and of course, given an easier time regarding CAFE compliance.

Mazda is another company that must also play against the stacked deck of CAFE. The Mazda6 wagon was offered here for a few years, and axed after it sold poorly. For 2014, Mazda is launching a third-generation Mazda6, including a gorgeous station wagon (and yes, a diesel engine), but it won’t be coming here. Enthusiast blogs have been harping on Mazda’s decision to withhold the car from the U.S. market, but a simple analysis using CAFE methodology reveals why. The wagon, with its footprint of 48 square feet, is subject to the same standards as the Volvo V70. On the other hand, the Mazda CX-5, with a footprint of 45.6 square feet, is smaller, and again, subject to light truck fuel economy standards. For a model that must be sold over 5-6 years (as previous generations were), the Mazda6 wagon starts out having to achieve a CAFE mpg figure in the high 30s.

Assuming the model lasts until 2020, the Mazda6 would have to achieve fuel economy figures in the high 40 mpg CAFE range. Engineering a low volume, niche market wagon for sale in America that would be subject to increasingly tough targets is arguably beyond their means, especially given the small volumes the car would sell in. Instead, Mazda offers the CX-5 crossover. Aside from being classified as a crossover, with all the CAFE advantages built in, the CX-5 is able to sell in economically viable volumes not just in the United States, but across the globe. The realities of CAFE have likely made sales of the third generation Mazda6 wagon impossible in the United States.

CAFE’s other victim is the compact truck segment. Many consumers don’t need a full-size truck (whether they acknowledge it or not), and the Ford Ranger, along with GM’s own compact pickups, had respectable followings among consumers looking for a smaller fuel-efficient pickup.

But the Ranger happens to fall into the “dead zone” of the CAFE footprint formula. Both curve graphs show a flat line at 55 square feet; in practical terms, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class carries this footprint. The Ranger, even in SuperCab configuration, has a footprint of 50 square feet, just short of the magic number. The best Ranger, fuel economy-wise, was a 4-cylinder manual truck, returning 22/27 mpg IRL; a respectable number, but one only available in a configuration that a minority of buyers would opt for. Equipped with a V6 and an automatic transmission, it would only return 14/18 mpg IRL, a figure that can be equalled by certain version of Ford’s V6 and V8 F-150 full-size pickups. By 2025, a theoretical Ranger with a footprint of 50 square feet would have to achieve fuel economy somewhere approaching 50 mpg CAFE. The 75 square foot F-150 would only have to reach in the high 30s CAFE.

Ford will offer a new Ranger in world markets, but again, it won’t come here. GM, on the other hand, plans to offer their new mid-size Colorado and Canyon trucks here, but the reasons for Ford and GM’s divergence aren’t as cut and dried as they are in the case of Mazda and Volvo. Ford has decided to offer full-size trucks exclusively, with the V6 options as a means of attracting economy-minded buyers, and perhaps taking advantage of CAFE regulations (not to mention, sell more F-Series, which are immensely profitable).

GM’s strategy is to forgo to advanced V6 powertrains that Ford offers, and market their full-size trucks alongside their smaller stable mates. If Ford offered a Ranger, it could theoretically cannibalize sales of the lower end F-150s, while muddling their marketing message. GM will presumably have no such conflict. Chrysler is rumored to be taking a third route; offering advanced V6s in their RAM trucks, while exploring a car-based compact pickup, possibly based off of a Fiat product. A truck like that would be a huge boon as far as CAFE compliance goes, and put a decisive nail in the coffin of the Dakota, which offered a V8 engine in a compact body.

Cui Bono

In the trial of Sextus Roscius, a young Cicero defended him by posing a famously concise question; “Cui Bono?”, or “who benefits?” CAFE merits a similar line of inquiry.

When examined side by side with European emissions standards, the economics of CAFE become more transparent. EU are relatively straight forward by comparison. Tailpipe CO2 emissions are measured and a de facto consumption tax is levied based on a vehicle’s output. There are no footprint formulas or regulatory loopholes that can be manipulated, though there are different standards for diesel and gasoline engines. Either way, the principle is the same; if you want a bigger, more powerful engine, you will have to pay for it via increased taxes. The most tangible examples of these policies in effect are the newly downsized motors being fitted in American-sized cars, like the 1.0L three-cylinder Ford Mondeo (our Fusion).

On the other hand, a consumption tax related to the profligacy of their vehicle would be disastrous to the Big Three. Full-size trucks, rather than cars, are the profit-makers for the Big Three, and no segment has more to lose from tough CAFE standards. The official line is that the big pickups and SUVs have to make up the most ground when it comes to fuel economy, so they are given more leeway with the regulations.

But the reality is that Detroit’s car makers need trucks to be affordable to stay in business. CAFE compliance for full-size trucks is a major topic in the auto industry, with concerns about rising costs being a major bugaboo for the Big Three. Ford is said to be moving to an aluminum body for the next F-150, while various reports have claimed that compliance with CAFE 2025 standards could add as much as $15,000 to the cost of a full-size truck. This kind of financial burden would make pickup trucks unaffordable to a significant portion of its customer base, and erode a massive source of profits for American automakers. As Niedermeyer noted, full size trucks would “…become a purely professional purchase, bought only by those who use them for work or by the wealthy.” A European-style consumption tax based on emissions of fuel efficiency would be devastating for the full-sized truck market, and it’s hardly a coincidence that CAFE is structured in such a way that best protects these vehicles.

In this context, it’s easy to see why the two major dissenters from the 2025 CAFE rules were Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. Representatives from both companies spoke out candidly about CAFE, with a Volkswagen spokesman stating

“The proposal encourages manufacturers and customers to shift toward larger, less-efficient vehicles, defeating the goal of reduced greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Mercedes-Benz was equally forceful, claiming that CAFE

“clearly favors large SUVs and pickup trucks. Our customers expect a range of vehicles from which to choose so this program creates a very real disconnect between government regulation and customer demand.”

Europe’s own Euro VI standards measure a grand total of 18 pages in PDF format, and are generally regarded as stricter than CAFE. That, combined with the substantially more egalitarian nature of the consumption tax model employed by Euro VI brings the legitimacy of CAFE into question even further.

Ironically, CAFE has much in common with the chicken tax, which is erroneously cited as being the sole impediment to the success of compact pickups in America. Both are horribly protectionist, anti-market laws that restrict consumer choice and give an unfair advantage to homegrown manufacturers. But at least the chicken tax compelled the OEMs to build compact pickups Stateside. Under CAFE, there isn’t just no reason to do so – there is every reason not to do so.

 

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181 Comments on “How CAFE Killed Compact Trucks And Station Wagons...”


  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    I don’t understand why they can’t just break it down into size classes.

    Full-size cars must hit x mpg, midsize cars must hit x mpg, etc., with separate standards for truck size classes. No fleet average, just a requirement for each size car regardless of how many each manufacturer builds, and make things as leinent as possible on the cars that are likely to be pretty efficient anyway (compacts and subcompacts).

    But, that doesn’t do anything to solve the argument of what constitutes a truck vs. a car, as seen in the PT Cruiser and XC70 problems. Regulation is hard, and it seems like the more of it the government tries to do, the harder it becomes to get it right.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      It’s not like all “midsize” cars are the same size (see: Kizashi vs. Passat). I think that the EU standards, based on what Derek says, sound pretty logical.

      • 0 avatar

        Which is why last year in Germany we saw lots and lots of wagons, which were very cool (and not all diesel manuals !!)

        Which is also why we drive these stupid trucks. My Acura MDX would be much better if it was lowered and made the station wagon it really is.

        So that is where all the little pickups went…thanks for explaining it …

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’ve often thought about writing a paper called “How CAFE and emission laws killed everything you knew and loved”.

    However, I think it would be lost on a generation that grew up after the rules were implemented who actually believe regulation drives progess.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Since a registration credit/surcharge is never going to be on the table for fuel economy, CAFE is what we are stuck with. And properly done, it could drive progress toward the goal, which should be to make each class of vehicle efficient while allowing the product to meet its intended goal. Instead, we have this footprint BS, which was a bone tossed to Detroit and their pickup/SUV profit machine. I certainly accept that a pickup is going to be less efficient than a straight people mover, in the sense that heavy load carrying capability means a heavier, thirstier vehicle. So, a separate standard for such beasts of burden makes sense. But by adding so many loopholes you have in fact destroyed the credibility of the program. But one thing can be said for sure: without some kind of minimum standard, the average fleet economy would be much worse than it is now. Americans are brainwashed from the very early days that bigger is universally better.

    • 0 avatar

      Curiously, regulation can drive progress – witness the amazing changes in automotive emissions over the past 40 years or the remarkable advances in airline safety. However, BAD regulation drives bad progress and when the regulation is negotiated to limit competition and throw freebies at domestic manufacturers, it creates bad products. It’s interesting that the regulation the domestics demanded, and got, during the 70’s and 80’s are the same regulations which virtually assured their demise.

    • 0 avatar
      glwillia

      Regulation can drive progress; look at Europe, where soccer moms drive fuel-efficient vehicles, but enthusiasts can buy powerful cars getting 8 MPG so long as they’re willing to pay the tax. This is why European manufacturers can make and sell both clean diesels that get upwards of 50 mpg, and beasts like the E63 AMG.

      What impedes progress is protectionist, anti-trade regulation like US CAFE that’s designed in large part to keep dinosaurs like GM and Ford in business and profitable.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Regulation can definitely drive changes in engineering (by mandate) but I don’t know if I’d call what any of your are talking about “progress”.

        Everyone forced to drive tiny diesel hatchbacks? Kill me now.

        Emissions? Only at the expense of everying else, INCLUDING fuel economy. It has taken 30 years for the industry to recover from the original CAFE and emission regulations, only to be bludgeoned again in the last few years. That’s right, EMISSIONS REGULATIONS ARE HOLDING BACK FUEL ECONOMY.

        A good example would be modern light duty diesels. The latest round of emission madates have effectively rendered the benefits of owning a diesel to nothing. Fuel economy is in the toilet due to regeneration for particulate filters and with the addition of EGR coolers, reductant systems, 6 foot long catalytic converters and particulate filters, the upfront purchase and maintenance costs are absolutely through the roof.

        Real progress would be letting customer preference decide what innovations make it into their vehicle so they can get real value for their money.

        While the rest of you sit here and ponder what totalitarian end-games should be played with industry regulation, I’ll keep building the best damn cars the Government will allow.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Why not get rid of CAFE, and replace it with a fuel tax?

      Then we could use the proceeds to pay off a decade of warfare and pork, before proceeding toward solving actual problems.

      Paying a couple of extra dollars to fill up my tank would be a small price to pay to live in a less regulated society with fewer problems.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Because if you’re in Congress and you propose a gigantic increase in the federal fuel tax like that, I guarantee you that you will lose your next election.

        There are people in Congress that want to get rid of the eleven cents per gallon that they already charge, just for a short-term popularity boost. (Then they’ll probably complain that the roads are falling apart.)

        Also, I’m not entirely convinced that it’s good policy anyway. Aside from the inherently regressive nature of sales taxes on a necessary commodity, you’re trying to encourage people to buy fuel-efficient cars by increasing the price of fuel, but that will only work on people who are in an economic position to buy a new, more fuel efficient car. The limited supply of fuel efficient used cars would sharply jump in price, and people who can’t afford a better car will be stuck dealing with higher gas prices for no real reason. Oh, and you’d cause inflation as the price of delivering goods went up. And who says you’ll have “fewer problems” anyway? That seems like a pretty strong assumption to make.

        Anyway, sales of station wagons and compact trucks have been in the toilet for a decade, and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t stay there with or without CAFE (this is probably why the automakers didn’t complain very much about it). The “World Ranger” that Derek mentions is only a hair smaller than a domestic F-150, and the Tacoma has been growing with every model refresh. The domestic truck buyer does not generally want a small truck unless it’s significantly cheaper and more fuel efficient than a full-size one and the gap just isn’t big enough anymore, CAFE or no.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        “Aside from the inherently regressive nature of sales taxes on a necessary commodity, you’re trying to encourage people to buy fuel-efficient cars by increasing the price of fuel, but that will only work on people who are in an economic position to buy a new, more fuel efficient car.”

        Phase it in, say $0.25/year over 4 years or $0.10 over 10, exempt diesel so shipping remains unaffected.

        This will let the market dictate what is optimal, place the burden of defense infrastructure on those who strain the system (rather than everyone who pays April 15th,) and last but not least, buffer the market the next time (pirates raid Nigerian platforms/hurricane hits the gulf/some foreign princes need cash/speculators gotta speculate) gas shoots up another $0.50-$1.50 gallon, folks are better positioned for said ‘shock.’ Sure it would take 5-10 years to get most everyone there, but it ain’t gonna happen with CAFE.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        With that diesel exemption that you threw in to “protect shipping”, I suspect that “the market” would choose diesel cars.

        As for strain on the highway system: AASHO’s studies have shown that wear on pavement scales with the fourth power of axle weight — those exempt diesel trucks will be causing about a hundred thousand times as much strain as my non-exempt gasoline motorcycle.

        Getting policy right is hard.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Looking at Europe seems to be evidence that high taxes on fuel will effect what cars people buy, and that exempting a type of fuel creates a different problem. To exempt shippers, you exempt shippers. Airlines don’t pay fuel taxes, so it can be done. I dont think it’s necessary though. Commodities really don’t rise that much in actual dollars due to shipping, and the market would reduce that increase over time.

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    Ok, minor annoyance, but I see it a lot… Carbon Dioxide is the letter “C” for carbon, followed by the letter “O” for oxygen (not “0”, the number zero), followed by the number “2”, indicating that there are two oxygen atoms attached to one carbon atom in the molecule. Please, use the letter “O” instead of the number “0”

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    I’m kinda with you on the CAFE regulations protecting the Large Truck industry here in North America, that one makes sense.

    But I don’t think it necessarily follows that CAFE regulations killed off the station wagon. The wagon itself died out naturally due to its unpopularity, particularly in the face of the more popular SUV era. Tall ride height and large cargo and passenger volumes and ‘safety’ of SUVs trumped Station Wagons (perceptually if not in reality).

    The fact that in recent years Crossovers took over popularity while being able to take advantage of the “small truck” loophole in CAFE I think is more of a happy coincidence, and only puts the final nail in the coffin of the hope of Station Wagon mainstream revival.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a graph about how market forces shaped the death of the station wagon as well, but it ended up getting cut. It’s absolutely true, but CAFE has played a role as well.

      • 0 avatar
        tatracitroensaab

        So I suppose the reason for all of the luxury station wagons is just that they pay the gas guzzler tax anyway??? Where does the CTS, CLS, or other wagons that the Germans have had over the years play into this story?

        Sorry to be a little nit-picky on a sort of story side-note, just curious.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      I think station wagons were already on life support even before the SUV boom. It was Chrysler’s minivans that really started the beginning of the end, although they were originally marketed as “wagons” in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        The 1984 model year saw the introduction of the Chrysler minivans and the compact, Jeep XJ Cherokee. It was these two vehicles which established the minivan and SUV as the defacto replacements for the station wagon.

        The name Caravan was a clever play on words – Car-a-Van.

      • 0 avatar
        tatracitroensaab

        @Joe McKinney….. I hate to burst your bubble, but the word Caravan was around well before that? I think it alludes more to the great excursions (no pun intended, Ford owners) of traders across the Sahara and exotic locales…… that said, that car-a-van is never going to get out of my head

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        @ tatracitroensaab – I am aware of the word’s origins. You do realize that marketing people sometimes add their own twist to common words and names?

        Take a look at some of the early advertising for the Chrysler minvans. The choice of the name Caravan was intended as a clever play on words. Chrysler emphasized the fact that these vehicles combined the ride and efficiency of a car with the space and utiltiy of a van. In print and T.V. these vehicles were described as “Magic Wagons” and the “First Garagable Vans”.

        Yes the name Caravan evokes images of a Saharan caravan. It also highlights the revolutionary (at the time) design and character of the Chrysler minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      I am not arguing that demand didn’t kill the station wagon, but CAFE didn’t help. The way I think about it, you have the sedan and wagon version of a car. They both have the same footprint (because they share everything but the body) so they have the same CAFE standards, but the wagon is heavier than the sedan so that hurts its score.

      So then you have the CUV come along and the manufacturers advertises heavily for it over a wagon (safer/better view/you feel like you can run over the commoners in their mere cars) because it helps their CAFE score because it is classified as a light truck and only loses a couple MPGs to the wagon it replaced

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      The point is that the “SUV era” was only possible because of the intentional failure CAFE. The purpose of regulation was to increase MPG/decrease polutants of personal transports–SUVs being used as commuter transport go against this purpose, and if the regs worked, SUVs (especially early SUVs) and even mega-minvans would be taxed into oblivion and there would be no “SUV” era.

    • 0 avatar
      BobAsh

      I think it DID kill the station wagon. Look at Europe – crossovers and SUVs are getting some popularity, but plain old wagon is still hugely popular, because it just makes more sense.

  • avatar
    James2

    1,944 pages…? Ridiculous. This tome must weigh as much as a old Yugo.

    If someone hit D.C. with a nice, low-yield EMP and forced them to use manual typewriters, then might we have a more common sense piece of legislation: a gas tax?

    In F1, they say the engineers are always a step ahead of the regulators, so we get things like F-ducts and blown exhaust diffusers. In CAFE, we get the PT Cruiser.

    An annually raised gas tax, say a penny a gallon each year, that would painlessly affect most drivers. It would provide continual incentive to the automakers to keep on working to improve MPGs but not favor/pick on any segment or type of vehicle.

    Is this just too simple for D.C.?

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      “Is this just too simple for D.C.?” In a word, yes.

      How else could they justify the enormity of their existence if not by creating overly verbose and hideously complicated legislation. Unfortunately, they do have a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters in those levels of governance, but can only churn out literary pieces of toilet paper presented in a Tale of Two Cities dust cover.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      If I could get one…. ONE!….amendment to the constitution passed, it would be a limit on the length of proposed bills in Congress. In my world (I rule!)any bill heading from Congress to the Senate would be limited to 1,00 words. The senate gets to add no more than 1,000 words in amendments or changes, and then it goes to the president.

      No more need for line item veto, no more “earmarks”, no more Obama-care bills….no more lengthy and stupid CAFE….no more inane omnibus bills. Each issue would be a straight up-or-down vote. No more games.

      If it can’t be said in 1,000 words or less, it isn’t worth saying.

      Just sayin’…

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Congratulations on a very lucid article. Like the Internal Revenue Code, CAFE is another example of a legislative con: something that has the appearance of doing what is/was popular, but in reality does relatively little to achieve that goal.

    And the other lesson from this is that the longer these dishonest schemes persist, the more severe the distortions they create. I’m not talking about giving “trucks” or even “light trucks” more slack in fuel efficiency than cars. We can easily agree that, when used for their intended and originally developed purpose, pickup trucks need to be robust physically and reasonably powerful. And I don’t think it would take 1,000 pages to make a workable distinction between trucks and cars. Cars carry people; trucks don’t. Maybe you would make a “passenger van” category to accommodate 4-row passenger vans, if you want to treat them separately than buses.

    In 1973, if these regulations had been established in an honest and transparent way (including a phase-in), even Detroit would have figured out how to build economical small cars that weren’t horrid like the Pinto and the Vega. But, the longer they persist, the more Detroit becomes economically dependent upon these regulations’ creations, in particular the “crossover” and the “SUV.” Of course, Detroit faces little competition in those segments . . . because nowhere else in the world is there any reason to build vehicles like those.

    Of course, there’s the other reason is that American cities were, with a handful of exceptions, designed for cars and European cities were not. So, the large car that would be a pain to drive in a European city works fine in the U.S. . . and most people like room, up to a point. Politically, if all US drivers (other than a handful of rich folks) were forced into Honda Civic-sized cars, there just might be a big backlash.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Your statement that “Cars carry people; trucks don’t” may well have been true 30+ years ago, but a vast majority of new pickups are extended-cab at a minimum, and I’d say that probably 30-50% of the ones that I see these days are crew cabs with four doors (and a short bed).

      The line between cars and trucks has blurred considerably in the past ten years.

      A quad-cab F150 Ecoboost can haul as much as a 3/4 ton pickup from 20 years ago, comfortably carry the family, and still get 20+ mpg on the highway.

      So explain again the difference between a car and a truck?

      • 0 avatar
        sfay3

        Why the perceived need to haul? The vast majority of the trucks I see are running with empty beds and usually just one person behind the wheel. And 20 mpg isn’t anything to write home about.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Back in the day emissions ratings were based on both weight ratings and passenger capacity. As one might expect based on my screen name I like International Harvesters. IH got pretty creative in avoiding emissions controls. With the Scout and full size trucks they avoided catalytic converters by changing GVW ratings. The Scout went from a max available GVW of 5200lbs in 1974 to a sole available GVW of 6200lbs in 1975 to avoid the Cat. Their pickups and Travelalls did the same thing albeit with a slightly smaller bump and a name change from 100 series to 150 series. Ford did something similar by giving us the F150 to go along with the previously base truck the F100.

        On the other hand the evaporative emissions were based on passenger count. So all Travelalls in 1972 were equipped with EVAP systems while standard cab pickups needed them in the then 1010 and 1110 (1/2 ton) capacities but the 1210 (3/4 ton) pickup didn’t. Make that pickup a Travelette, IH’s name for their crew cab and it needed EVAP emissions in the 1210 (3/4 ton) version.

        While the emissions standards advanced on trucks with GVW ratings over 8600lbs are still exempt from CAFE standards and MPG ratings on the sticker.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    I searched high and low for my 4-banger Frontier. They may be slow, but I enjoy driving compact pickups more than anything else I’ve ever owned. I only wish they’d offer the turbodiesel from the Navara here.

  • avatar
    tatracitroensaab

    Thank you so much for writing this truly informative article. It is stuff like this (not to mention an incredibly distinctive staff, each writer with a truly different perspective) that makes TTAC a true pleasure to read. Theres a reason why I am addicted to this site. Keep it up yall :)

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Wouldn’t it be somewhat fair to say that small pickups were the failed creation of gasoline price controls and the attendant shortages and rationing? Wasn’t the big boom in small pickups started with the 1974 Arab oil embargo?

    You can’t haul much or tow much with a small pickup. They also make lousy commuter vehicles. Any modern subcompact hatchback or small SUV has most of the capabilities of a small truck, but double or triple the comfort, performance, driving fun and comfort and gas mileage. You can pull a jet ski with your Focus or RAV4 and load in 15 2×4 studs and a new toilet in the back of one.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      “You can’t haul much or tow much with a small pickup” The current Global Ranger can carry anywhere from 2400lb in the Dual Cab to 2,800lb-3000lb in the single Cab. Then again it is NOT a small pickup.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      You are comparing a modern compact car to a 30-years-ago truck? You could haul plenty in one of those trucks, and I did. 3/4 ton payload capacity was not unusual, yet with gas mileage in the high twenties. No, they werent comfortable, but neither was a small car back then. I dont think Ford allows any towing with a current Focus. With these fancy interiors, who is going to haul lumber in the likes of a RAV4?

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        In practice, how many people with pickup trucks haul any serious amount of lumber (or dirt, or bricks, or whatever the Ford/Chrysler/GM ads promote) even once a year?

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        th, It sure seems like there’s a significant chunk of the truck driving population that could easily just put the seats down in their compact SUV during the twice a year they actually need to haul something. I have a Ford Escape and in 4 years of home ownership the only time I couldn’t get the job done was a sectional couch. The 50 bucks it cost to get it delivered cuts into the fuel savings over an F-150. Goes from $5200 saved to $5150. There’s basically no financial justification for it, since a regular old Ford Escape with a tow kit+ $25 trailer rental fee will get you all the hauling most people need.

        The existence of the Avalanche is all the proof you need that there’s a lot of people who are buying a truck for the style points, not because they need them. So it’s too bad that CAFE has fallen victim to regulatory capture; modern trucks have far more capacity than most people, even professionals, will ever need. It’s one thing if people had options, but if the regulations are winnowing out lighter and cheaper options that’s really bad.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Navara is very different under the skin as well. It has a payload of more than twice the Frontier.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Unfortunately, the footprint method has the opposite effective; rather than encouraging auto makers to strive for unprecedented fuel economy in their passenger car offerings, it has incentivized auto makers to build larger cars”

    No, it doesn’t, because the manufacturer still has to maintain the corporate fleet-wide average.

    “Ford will offer a new Ranger in world markets, but again, it won’t come here.”

    Hardly anyone will want them. Why should they bother to sell them to a market that doesn’t want them?

    Compact pickup sales in the US peaked during the mid-1980s. They had previously served a niche of providing budget transportation, but their low price points became less sustainable as the yen appreciated in value.

    However, as those customers aged, they were able to move up the ladder financially, while their time spent in pickup trucks had given them a taste for ride height that exceeded what was available in a regular car. Meanwhile, Detroit had acquired an increasingly miserable reputation for its cars, while its trucks maintained the veneer of dependability. And there’s the impetus for the creation of the SUV — since Americans were losing interest in Detroit’s cars, Detroit had to build something that would-be import owners might otherwise buy.

    You can also partly blame the “voluntary quotas” for this occurring. Because the US had placed on a numeric cap on Japanese imports, the Japanese responded by (a) shifting production of high-volume models to the US in order to avoid the quotas and (b) exporting more expensive vehicles from Japan in order to earn margin on those sales, since the volume was restricted. In effect, you can thank Ronald Reagan for Acura, Lexus and Infiniti.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      “No, it doesn’t, because the manufacturer still has to maintain the corporate fleet-wide average.”
      They do that by offering more efficient small cars, not Pickups.

      “Hardly anyone will want them. Why should they bother to sell them to a market that doesn’t want them?”

      Problem is the Overseas Ranger would cut into the sales of F150’s. GM has a different strategy with the US Spec Colorado.The Colorado and Ranger are not “compact pickups” like the 1980’s Datsun’s and Isuzu’s

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        The totally obsolete Ranger posted significant economy over even the best F-150.

        What could an updated ranger with the same ecoboost engine do? Mid 30s?

        Looks like we will never know.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        Given me a month or two and I can get those numbers. The new Ranger kicks ass. Huge cabin, good cargo space, and it’s available with diesels capable of over 40 mpg. And not the European kind…

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      That is a given. As well they are building more fuel efficient cars. it allows the Automakers to build SUV’s and Pickups that produce more profit as well as fuel efficient cars. One does not exclude the other.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The points are accurate.

      A large pickup truck counts against the fleet average. The producer will need to sell other vehicles that burn less fuel and/or earn fuel savings credits in order to offset the sale of the large pickup. There will still be a motivation to improve the large truck’s fuel economy in order to mitigate the impact of that sale on the fleet average.

      And compact pickup truck sales began declining in the latter part of the 80s for reasons that had nothing to do with CAFE. In addition to the quotas, gas was becoming cheaper and, perhaps more importantly, available without rationing.

      The gas price bubble of the last decade was not particularly comparable to the 1970s because gas during the 1970s was hard to buy. It wasn’t just a matter of cost — the stuff wasn’t available.

      US oil production peaked in 1973, and OPEC used oil as a political weapon. There were odd-even rationing schemes in areas of the country, and it was sometimes necessary to wait in long queues just to buy a limited quantity (and sometimes, they ran out of gas while people were still in line waiting for it.) By the early 80s, the OPEC cartel collapsed, oil prices tumbled, and vehicle sales changed accordingly.

      The times were very different. Some people were highly motivated to save fuel. They didn’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts, they just didn’t have much choice.

      • 0 avatar

        @PCH101

        There is no brand level target and there hasn’t been since 2006. It is all based on footprint. Here’s an example

        http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060407/FREE/60403023/1024/LATESTNEWS

        There are provisions that allow full size trucks to avoid compliance as well as credits and other schemes for the OEMs to wash their hands of non-compliant vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Saying no one would want the Ranger isn’t a valid statement. It still held 22% of the market during it’s last month of production when the only compact truck that beat it was the Tacoma with a 38% share. The truck hadn’t received a significant refresh for a decade.
      Total segment % / Ranger sales:
      2010: 21 / 55,000
      2011: 24 / 71,000
      For 2012, the first 3 months of the year it out performed it’s previous 2 years. The rest of the year reflected the lack of production. In it’s last month of production, 6.25 Rangers were sold for every Ranger made.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Those are not very impressive sales numbers. The segment is just not that appealing; the volumes and price points are too low to be given much consideration. Ford would be better off moving those buyers into other Ford vehicles that produce more volume.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        They’re not great, but much more capital has been dumped into one platform that had similar sales: D47X (though D47X has a much higher profit margin). It does cut into F series, but to say no one wants one is disregarding all of the die hards, which I don’t think will stick with Ford. The Aerostar had a similar fanatical customer base. Even when Ford neglected the product, it still made money. The plant’s local even negotiated wage rates that made it cheaper to operate than non-union final assembly operations. The program and product continually blew my mind when I interfaced with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “to say no one wants one is disregarding all of the die hards”

        There aren’t enough of them to matter. In a market that sells and leases about 20 million new vehicles per year, 50,000 customers don’t matter much, especially if they have odd tastes and frugal budgets.

        Some of that could be fixed by giving loyalty bonuses to guys who trade in their Rangers for F-150s. It would cost less to give them a thank-you incentive than it would be to build and promote a vehicle that few people want.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        I would have rather seen the global Ranger leverage the P415 platform, a la F100, but that’s just my opinion. I think trucks are suffering bloat. The Tacoma and GM’s GMT355 still sell enough to be viable, and I would be that leveraging global economies of scale would make a P-whatever variant justifiable.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “There is no brand level target”

      There never has been a brand-level target. However, there were corporate-level targets for “cars” and “light trucks” under the old CAFE system, and those will continue under the new system.

      The new system has footprints AND corporate-wide averages. Both, not just one.

      This summary from Car and Driver is more current than your Autoweek article, the latter of which was written before the 2012 standards were devised.
      __________

      Just as they do today, the rules will allow automakers to average their fuel economy across a number of models. A guzzler that doesn’t meet the standard can be “canceled out” by one or more vehicles that better the mpg standard….

      ….Those who build lots of really large trucks—bigger than medium-wheelbase full-size pickups, such as the Silverado example—will suffer, as vehicles that big don’t get any size-based, fuel-economy breaks. Similarly, if a company’s fleet has many subcompacts, it will amass fuel-economy surpluses that, for the first time, can be sold to other automakers to offset some mpg shortfalls they might have.

      http://www.caranddriver.com/features/how-automakers-will-meet-2016-cafe-standards

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Of course there are, or at least could be, non CAFE reasons for changing buying habits. But, given the choice between producing a station wagon needing to meet Xmpg, vis-a-vis jacking it up a few inches, and having to meet a much lower standard, any profit maximizing attempting entity will shift towards the latter.

      As long as we’re dealing with multi use vehicles, arbitrarily classifying some as “trucks” and others as “cars”, and having different standards for how much expensive tech has to go into them to make them legal, WILL lead to inefficient allocation. Europe saw many of the same distortions sneaking in the back door, through their subsidization of “commercial” vehicles, there and then defined as vehicles with diesel engines.

      If you want to reduce fuel use, tax fuel use. Anything else will have out of band side effects, no matter how much clever smokescreen argumentation is employed to obfuscate the matter.

      Oh, and BTW: Thanks Ronny, for the NSX, The ITR, the LS and SC 400s, The LF-A and the GTR! :)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “But, given the choice between producing a station wagon needing to meet Xmpg, vis-a-vis jacking it up a few inches, and having to meet a much lower standard, any profit maximizing attempting entity will shift towards the latter.”

        The large station wagon market fell apart during the 70s. Their market share fell in half between 1975 and 1985.

        The SUV boom didn’t occur until the 90s. The periods don’t even overlap.

        The SUV market was largely driven by cheap gas, combined with the factors noted above. If there is a government mechanism that promoted the SUV boom, it was the low gas taxes that Americans pay.

      • 0 avatar
        SunnyvaleCA

        @PCH

        Perhaps higher gas prices in the 70s killed the wagon. Then, with lower prices in the 90s, you could have had the return of the wagon or the rise of the SUV. Maybe the wagon would have risen again in the 90s if not for the headwind caused by the EPA.

        By the 90s, a wagon had to make 7 MPG higher than an SUV for the EPA. That’s a $350 headwind as well as a potential political black eye for the manufacturer.

        A FAR more important problem was the gas guzzler tax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_guzzler_tax#Gas_Guzzler_Tax). In 2006, an 18 MPG passenger car would be nailed for $2600 per vehicle (regardless of the manufacturer’s overall fleet) whereas an SUV or pickup truck making the same mileage would pay $0. I think this is a significant deterrent to lower-priced vehicles, which is partly why only the expensive manufacturers make wagons (Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Cadillac).

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Maybe the wagon would have risen again in the 90s if not for the headwind caused by the EPA.”

        Detroit did a great job of destroying its reputation in the passenger car market. They needed to migrate to other platforms in order to escape the stigma that they had created with their cars. They had a far easier maintaining their credibility with SUVs than they would have with dinosaurmobiles.

        The Chrysler minivan replaced the station wagon. The pickup truck market had created a submarket that demanded ride height, and they got that from the minivan. That minivan market helped to spawn the SUV market as much as anything.

        “I think this is a significant deterrent to lower-priced vehicles, which is partly why only the expensive manufacturers make wagons (Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Cadillac).”

        Mercedes, BMW, etc. build cars in relatively low volumes. At those volumes, they have to build “world cars” that are primarily designed for their home market, and export what they can to the rest of us at a premium with only modest accommodations.

        They sell those vehicles to us because they don’t depend upon high volumes sold to a US audience to make those models worth keeping. Their concession to us is to make SUVs, which are made primarily with us in mind.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        PCH,

        “Periods overlapping” has nothing to do with it. If CAFE induced costs amounts to $2000 more in fancy tech, for a wagon than the exact same car jacked up and sold as an SUV; there WILL be some people for whom the $2000+markup is significant enough to change their buying decision. No “studies” or other attempts at empirical verification required.

        The magnitude of the distortion is debatable, but not the fact that taxing one product, but not another, shifts demand in favor of the latter.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      @ Derek: What a mature response. Pch101 notoriously doesn’t suffer people he deems to be fools very well, but his disagreement was perfectly civil and respectful. Dismissing his comment like this makes you look like a jerk.

      By the way, I caught your “U mad bro?” response to my criticism of your Ford Fusion commentary last week before you hastily deleted it. Stay classy.

      If you want to be taken seriously as a commentator, you’re going about it all wrong. The Jalopnification of this website continues…

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      @PCH

      I think that among the truck vehicle fleets, each manufacturer will have to meet a DIFFERENT standard that is derived from the footprint of their fleet’s specific vehicles. i.e.: if a manufacturer makes only small trucks they will have to meet a higher fleet standard than if they only made large trucks. From the Autoweek article: “NHTSA projects that BMW, which mostly builds small and medium-sized SUVs, will have to meet a 2011 truck fleet standard of 25.8 mpg. For General Motors, which makes more large trucks, the standard would be 23.2 mpg.”

      So, while each manufacturer’s truck fleet will have to meet a standard, that standard will be based on the footprint of their truck fleet’s specific vehicles–the larger the footprint, the lower the target. It seems that a similar sliding scale applies independently to passenger cars, but the targets between the smallest and largest vehicles aren’t as different as for trucks.

      I’ll venture to guess that if fuel prices stay low, people will not demand efficiency and so the new CAFE rules will promote light trucks over passenger cars and, within each of the two categories, promote larger footprint vehicles over smaller footprint vehicles. Unfortunately, both of those trends run counter to the goal of using less fuel overall, limiting the effectiveness of the new rules.

      On the other hand, if fuel prices increase significantly, people will demand efficiency. The new CAFE regulations might actually REDUCE fuel efficiency that would be achieved by the natural consumer demand by promoting vehicles larger than people would buy if there were no CAFE effects.

      Sadly, none of the CAFE regulations promote such sure-fire fuel saving behaviors as driving less, slowing down on the highways, carpooling, combining trips, not idling the engine, or just leaving the vehicle at home and walking!

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “Meanwhile, Detroit had acquired an increasingly miserable reputation for its cars, while its trucks maintained the veneer of dependability. ”

      Only among people who hadn’t owned one yet. Post 73 Detroit trucks were junk just like their cars.

      But unlike their cars, there was no adult sized Jap alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “I think that among the truck vehicle fleets, each manufacturer will have to meet a DIFFERENT standard that is derived from the footprint of their fleet’s specific vehicles.”

      Each vehicle type has its own “footprint” requirements, plus the manufacturers will have to achieve a fleet average. It isn’t either/or, it’s both.

      This is how NHTSA describes it. (This is for the 2017+ period, but the same approach applies to 2012-16): “Each manufacturer will have its own fleet-wide production-weighted compliance obligation, determined at the end of the model year, based on the footprints and production volumes of the vehicles it chooses to produce.”

      http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/rulemaking/pdf/cafe/CAFE_2017-25_Fact_Sheet.pdf

      Edmunds notes that NHTSA believes that it has a way to keep the platform approach from being gamed:
      ______________

      Because CAFE requirements are now based on vehicle footprints, with lower required annual mpg increases for vehicles with bigger footprints, it would seem easy for automakers to reduce their fuel-economy burdens by enlarging the footprints of some models. That’s a fairly inexpensive strategy if the vehicle modification simply means increasing the width of the track between the tires, but such a measure only would deliver a very small increase in footprint. A significant increase in footprint can only come by stretching a vehicle’s wheelbase, which is not only a complex manufacturing proposition but also an expensive one.

      NHTSA said that it recognized the apparent loophole early on and took steps to plug it. It ensured that the incremental reductions in fuel-economy requirements would be so small that it would not be economical for an automaker to merely step up one or two footprint sizes. The cost of stretching footprints beyond that, the agency said, would be far greater than the benefit an automaker would receive from the mpg reduction.

      In short, the shape of the footprint curves has been carefully tailored to allow the continued existence of larger vehicles without favoring them over smaller ones.

      http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/good-and-bad-news-emerges-from-cafes-fine-print.html
      ______________

      This makes sound as if the feds are going to have an annual opportunity to haggle with the automakers (or more likely, the other way around.) If Detroit wants to just crank out a bunch of V-8 trucks, there is going to be a regulator who is going to express his or her concerns about that planned product mix. They are not going to be blessing product mixes that lean heavily on massive trucks.

      The government has already said that they want to see more hybrid trucks, more trucks that run on alt energy and lighter vehicles generally. My own guess is that at most, this really means:

      -More hybrid or mild hybrid trucks
      -More trucks with turbos (which should theoretically get better mileage)
      -Lighter components generally, with at least some of the added costs passed on to the customer
      -Price premiums attached to the trucks with larger motors (lower volumes require higher margins)
      -More green vehicles that can produce credits to offset the trucks

      Basically, the guys who need the space of a full-size truck but without the grunt of a large motor are going to be steered toward less powerful alternatives. The guys who buy the real gas burners should be (at least in theory) those guys who actually need them.

      Whether any of that actually happens to a meaningful degree is questionable. The automakers will predictably use the annual allocation process to continually renegotiate and chip away at their annual targets. In the real world, not much will actually change. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      “Your childish, ad hominem rants directed towards myself and other commenters in recent weeks have significantly degraded the discourse in the comment page. Get your act together or get out.”

      Yeah, between the obvious car salesmen and angry jingoists in the commentariat, and your insipid, stereotype-riddled “My Generation” observations that you clearly can’t defend without stooping to snark and threats, I’m the one who’s really lowered the discourse around here.

      Clearly this site is no longer worth my time. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      PCH,
      Something you might like to know, I looked for fuel use studies, and didn’t find any decent ones, but I did find a reliable economist who estimated the percentages, and the poor actually do spend more as a percentage according to him.
      You are still off on the perverse incentives though..

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I just pwned the EPA for like the 10th time in a row with my ’04 Tacoma by getting 22 mpg combined (mostly highway), rather than the measly 18 highway it states it is supposed to get in its current form, which is a V6 mated to an automatic with 4WD. All that was in Power ECT mode trucking along at a few over the posted speed limit. I wasn’t using A/C and there was little wind, so that could make a difference.

    Even in town though, driving has been 2 – 4 over what the EPA states on its website.

    I still contend that the government has no business mandating fuel economy standards. The free market is there to decide what that will be.

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      Right on , if the price of gas goes up to 6 bucks per gallon (and it will sooner than most think) let the gas guzzler drivers pay for their choices ! 28 average mpg in my 2006 Tacoma Xtra cab 2wd and I can get more if I take the snow tires off the rear and and incorporate even more hypermiling techniques other than the moderate ones I’ve been using so far . But with winter on the way that experiment will have to wait until spring .Until then the 40-44 mpg I’ve been getting in my 04 Civic Ex will have to suffice .

  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    Would it kill ‘em to consider a vehicle’s frontal area in addition to its footprint? Pickup trucks tend to be taller, so they get a bit more leniency; wagons tend to be shorter and more economical than a crossover with the same footprint. Seems like a simple enough solution to me… could I actually be on to something?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Why would you want to encourage un-aerodynamic vehicles?

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        That is a logical consequence, I suppose, but I imagine as fuel prices creep up over time, people who /need/ trucks would keep buying ‘em, while the popularity of crossovers would decline unless they continue to voluntarily exceed the requirements.

        I don’t think there’s a perfect solution, aside perhaps from limiting the Great Truck Loophole to body-on-frame vehicles exclusively and/or edging up the gas tax.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        There is no reason why a non-working pickup truck has to have two feet of ground clearance, other than the fact that it looks c00l. Functional pickup trucks (or vans — gasp!) can have normal ride height and not much more overall height than a crossover or a Honda Fit.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        th009 you’ve clearly never done much work from a truck. The floor of the bed is your work bench and those low rider 2WD trucks put that bench down around your thighs which turns into your knees if you’re loading from a curb. Working that low kills your back by the end of the day.

        No stock truck has anything like 2 feet of clearance.

  • avatar
    areader

    “Like the Internal Revenue Code, CAFE is another example of a legislative con: something that has the appearance of doing what is/was popular, but in reality does relatively little to achieve that goal.”

    And both of these cons have the same root. People would rather pretend to be conned than deal with facts. Actually only the absolute dumbest are conned; most people know their being lied to but will pretend until the country hits the wall. Then they’ll start listening to another FDR. Raise the tax on fuel to deal with the problem. Have tax laws without endless carefully crafted “loopholes”, and the tax code would be concise and understandable. Things aren’t bad enough yet.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    Look, CAFE didn’t kill the small truck. Its own limitations did so….
    The typical small truck has far less interior room and payload than a full size truck. And optioned up, it gets expensive.

    Consumers did the math and voted with their checkbooks. Why should I pay $25k for a loaded Ranger when I can land a decent F-150 (with much more utility) for only a bit more, or even the same cash?

    I’ll lament the discontinued Ranger on the day it can haul a normal sofa without half of it sticking out of the bed. Or when it can haul a normal load of loam without its front end pointing to the sky. A small truck is no good for anyone but retirees taking light trips to the dump…..

    • 0 avatar
      Hoser

      Wut? Where are you getting decent F-150s for $25k? Cheapest one on my dealers lot stickers at $35. For $26k I can build an STX Std.Cab 4×2 3.7 with a rubber floor.

      Near the end $25K could get you a Ranger Ext. Cab 4×4 XLT, or you could go down a few thousand and still get an 2wd I4, 5-spd man., and 30mpg.

      Now I can get an F-150 that doesn’t quite look like a fleet vehicle but equipped the same for $26k. And I get 23mpg. My 1985 5.0 Panther could match that.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    Just a clarification, the PT Cruise was to RAISE the CAFE avg for Chrysler.

    I could see midsize trucks making this work. Compact trucks could make this work too, but they would need to be very light and very light duty. Might have to do some tricks on where you place the wheels of the vehicle, and increase the width some.

    But the problem isn’t really the requirements of CAFE to make this happen. There isn’t much of a market for the trucks. People who need a truck want a truck that will work for 95% or more of what they do. Pricing on midsize trucks last time around was very close to full size trucks. Fuel economy of the Toyota Tacoma V6 is so close to that of full size trucks, that it makes little sense.

    If the next Chevy/GM Colorado/Canyon can increase fuel economy a great deal, it makes sense. If it can’t, it will be a short run production. I am also going to be that you see GM working on Turbo V6 engines for trucks. Might eventually try natural gas too if that can ever become more available.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      ” If the next Chevy/GM Colorado/Canyon can increase fuel economy a great deal, it makes sense. If it can’t, it will be a short run production. I am also going to be that you see GM working on Turbo V6 engines for trucks”

      I think he Colorado/Canyon will have an “Ecoboost” option as well.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        Yep. They have been doing DI+Turbo for a few vehicle applications now. My understanding is that Caddy is going to be getting a turbo 3.6L engine that will eventually go into the ATS-V and the XTS. I am willing to bet that this power train will be available on the fullsize trucks and a 2.0L turbo will be available on the Chevy Colorado.

        If GM can manage to get 24 mpg highway out of a 3.6L in the lambdas, I am guessing it will do better than that in the Colorado/Canyon variants.

  • avatar
    tced2

    I’ve never understood the CAFE “progression”. Standards are set and there are no changes for years. Then all of a sudden a new sheriff arrives in town and we have a new set of cataclysmic standards. Why not a set of progressing standards?…like the mpg must increase 2% a year with a bit of leeway in any given year?

    Regardless of how you view the PT Cruiser, the CAFE for Chrysler was raised. And the vehicle sold well. It must have satisfied some buyers. Bob Lutz said that Diamler hated the PT Cruiser and let it die from neglect.

    If $15k is to be added to the price of standard pickups, then the market will move upward and sales will be lower. Now if the District of Control folks get their price per gallon of gas to European levels (Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu expressed that wish) then the auto/truck market will be really fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      The issue with the PT Cruiser is that most people would consider it a “passenger car.” Most people would be hard pressed to tell how it is worthy of “light truck” status while many other vehicles of similar capability are classified as “passenger cars.” Thus it is seen as a vehicle specifically created to game the CAFE system.

      How does it game the system? Suppose EVERY car were classed as a “light truck” in the 1990s (when the PT was in full swing). Then, under CAFE, the industry would have to have an overall mileage of 20 MPG for all vehicles. Instead, those vehicles that were “passenger cars” were put in a separate fleet pool that was required to meet 27 MPG instead of just 20.

      “Regardless of how you view the PT Cruiser, the CAFE for Chrysler was raised.” Not true. In the 1990s, Chrysler more-or-less met the MPG values for the passenger car and the light truck fleets. However, by getting the PT into the light truck fleet, Chrysler sold far more of the light truck vehicles than passenger car vehicles. So instead of a million cars getting 27 MPG (average) and a million trucks getting 20 MPG (average), you had half a million in the 27 MPG category and one-and-a-half million in the 20 MPG category.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    As a person who has busted the rear differential and/or real axles every year for the past four years on a full-size half ton pickup, I have EARNED my right to scorn even SMALLER, less capable pickups.

    I’m a late convert to 3/4 ton rigs. The difference in towing and hauling over a half ton truck is night and day. The safety factor alone is worth any reduction in gas mileage when you are towing or hauling heavy loads.

    And my neighbors are Toyota Hilux fanatics. Whenever they need to haul or tow much of anything, they borrow my busted-a$$ F-150. With the new Eco-tech engine in the F-150s, I would be hard pressed to be convinced that any smaller pickup would get significantly better gas mileage, especially the four wheel drive variants.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    “With the new Eco-tech engine in the F-150s, I would be hard pressed to be convinced that any smaller pickup would get significantly better gas mileage, especially the four wheel drive variants.”

    Smaller diesels yes, smaller gas engines no

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “The landscape of today looks like the landscape of then, but there’s one important thing missing:”

    Phew…for a second there I thought you were going to say “Ronald Reagan.”

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    What country has this mythical free market? It isn’t Japan, South Korea, China or the EU? Where does it exist? Only in the mind does it exist.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I loved my 1996 Ranger, bought used in 1998…until I didn’t due to a butt-sprung seat (not my fault, I’m not heavy) and back issues. Sold it in 2004 when I bought my 2004 Impala.

    It had always bewildered me on classifying the PT Cruiser – which I also liked – as a “light truck”. No amount of ‘splainin’ to me can make me fully comprehend the logic behind this, but if the government is indeed trying to hel me, that isn’t working, either…

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Zackman, the PT Crusier being classified as a truck is as easy as pie. Since there was a separate CAFE standard for cars and trucks, Chrysler could use this to its advantage. At that time, they were dangerously close to falling into non-compliance for its truck fleet, as their trucks were rather inefficient. By designing the PT to conform to the definition of a truck, the relatively high efficiency of the PT helped offset the poor mileage from Rams and Durangos. The fact that the PT sold well worked even more to their advantage. Now Chrysler was not alone in doing this; Subaru did the same with the Outback, making it a SUV so it could get by with worse mileage. Simply put, the manufacturers gamed the rules to their advantage. So one would think why did the government not change the rules? Well, one reason is that during the Clinton years, the Republicans added a rider to the highway appropriations bill, forbidding the administration from even studying mileage issues, let alone changing them. Again, a huge bone tossed to the fat cats in the auto industry by their cronies in Congress….

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Usually when bureaucrats get involved, not only does it not solve the problem, but it actually exacerbates it and has the exact opposite intended effect.

    Just like with housing, the government wants to make it more “affordable” to own a house, so anyone with a pulse gets a low interest mortgage. But once everyone has access to mortgages, prices skyrocket and the bubble pops. Low income people would have been MUCH better renting until they could afford a down payment instead of getting a mortgage they really couldn’t afford.

    The same with student loans, to make college more affordable, let everyone get a student loan! Because everyone can now”afford” college, Universities inflate their prices, and suddenly college becomes unaffordable as a result of the government making it “affordable.”

    We’re the only country that has a crazy system like CAFE, we should scrap it, it’s what caused the SUV explosion in the first place. Just have reasonable emissions standards and let manufacturers build what they want to meet demand.

  • avatar
    CurseWord

    Really great editorial, filled with very important information in language anyone can understand. That will probably make CAFE defeners and patriots even more annoyed. Nice work.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    I also disagree with the statements that this will promote bigger vehicles. Simple reason, people want more efficient transportation. People are going to want the Corollas, Civics, and Cruzes available today. They will want them even more efficient in the future. The larger vehicles will still cost more to buy and more at the pump. I don’t see people going to full size cars because of this.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      People want more efficient transportation if gas costs “too much.” Most people today would consider a small SUV that got “only” 35 MPG to be efficient enough at current fuel prices. However, under CAFE rules of year 2025 you won’t be allowed to buy a 35 MPG SUV unless it happens to be the size of an Expedition. So… you’ll either have to get a compromised small SUV (either more $$$ or less “performance”) and it will make 50 MPG or you can save money and have more power and get one that is Expedition sized.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        A CAFE rated 35 MPG small SUV pretty much exists today. 35 MPG CAFE is less than 30 MPG. Even at 30 MPG, it will be quite a feat to get an Expedition sized vehicle to that rating. The hybrid that GM and Chrysler did for the Tahoe got something like 20 city and 22 highway. We will see what it is like in 13 years, but an Expedition sized SUV is probably going to have no power as well if the small SUV can’t make its MPG rating.

  • avatar
    raph

    “full size trucks would “…become a purely professional purchase, bought only by those who use them for work or by the wealthy.”

    Man if only!

    • 0 avatar
      DinosaurWine

      Well, if we’re going to make it unaffordable to drive cars that we don’t strictly need, I say we increase taxes on Shelby Mustangs. That way, professional racers can still pay for them if needed. After all, no one really needs 500 hp.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The main reason I bought a Dodge Dakota was its SIZE: not too big, not too small… it was just right! But today you can’t even pick a “small” truck, your only choice is a monster of a thing. I keep praying that small turbo diesels will arrive and save the compact truck market. I towed my boat before with a V6 Ranger and it wasn’t bad, however the V8 in my Dakota is much better. Gas mileage was the same 12-13 mpg for both (highway towing in flat Florida) since with the V6 I needed a heavy foot to maintain speed.

    I don’t want (or need) a full size truck, yet due to a variety of reasons outlined in this article I don’t really have a choice any more. With the current trend for upmarket (read: expensive) full size trucks I don’t see this changing any time soon regardless of CAFE rules. As those that can afford a $40K truck don’t seems to care too much about its MPG. However the MPG wars have been slowly killing off the oversized SUVs and putting more people into smaller CUVs, so there is some hope.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Yet another delusional fantasy propagated by the manual diesel station wagon brigade. CAFE is a terrible piece of legislation, but minitrucks and wagons didn’t die because of CAFE. They died because not enough people wanted those vehicles.

    The ’79 energy crisis effectively killed big wagons for good, but even the new downsized B-bodies and Panthers didn’t reverse the decline that started with the ’73 oil embargo; Chrysler stopped offering mid and fullsize wagons altogether after ’78. The A-body and Fox wagons of this era didn’t offer a third row, making them essentially worthless to the larger families that usually wanted wagons. The segment was completely stagnant by the time the Chrysler minivans (marketed by Iacocca as “Magic Wagons”) showed up in ’83.

    Some families started gravitating towards fullsize vans and Suburbans in the ’70s, not because of a lack of options, but because they offered something different. Boomers who grew up in the way back of a Country Squire did not want to be caught dead in one as an adult; This cycle has repeated itself with first the minivan and now the SUV. The Chrysler minivan truly was vastly superior to any wagon from a packaging standpoint and its success was well earned; the RWD competitors from Ford/GM/Toyota/etc were inferior, all-around awful vehicles, but they still sold well precisely because they weren’t minivans. By the time the Explorer and Grand Cherokee launched the SUV-as-family-car boom, wagons were mostly dead. The Taurus wagon sold decently until they made it look like a fish, Volvo wagons sold well to insufferable snobs, GM kept selling A-bodies out of pure apathy, and Honda/Toyota sold Accord/Camry wagons because it took them until 1998 to get a clue about what a real minivan was.

    Small trucks, meanwhile, were a product of CAFE more than they were a victim of it. After gas dropped again in the early ’80s, the primary reason people bought compact, four-banger pickups was because they were usually they were the absolute cheapest new vehicles you could buy. Just like window cranks and manual transmissions, cheap, underpowered trucks fell out of favor as consumer standards rose. Most of those trucks grew into “midsize” trucks that carry pricetags and mileage figures that aren’t any better than a full-size; From a purely economic standpoint, you’re an absolute idiot if you buy one. Even the Ranger, the last “true” compact, went into a sales free-fall a decade ago, surviving on fleets and a few hair shirt diehards until this year.

    Whining about the demise of unpopular options and market segments is popular automotive “journalism” trope, but it’s trite and, frankly, really boring.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Suburbans are another niche product. I live in Virginia and drive to Indiana a couple of times a year. I wish I had one of dad’s Suburbans to drive through the mountains on I-64. I would gladly fill up both gas tanks to have comfortable leather seating and V-8 POWER!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Excellent analysis, Buick6. I would only add that the CAFE standards made it foolish for manufacturers to even consider promoting a passenger car/wagon option that suited large families, once a “truck” could be offered instead. And here’s another factor: let’s not forget that the original target market was shrinking as families were getting smaller – fewer kids, fewer parents – through the 1975-2000 period. Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see whether the footprint-based standards result in “trucks” getting a little closer to the road (not as tall) in the future. Will the loop close, with CUV/SUVs becoming distinguishable from wagons only by body cladding and macho fenders?

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        Will the loop close, with CUV/SUVs becoming distinguishable from wagons only by body cladding and macho fenders?

        Like the Ford Flex or Subaru Outback?

        In the 80s, our family car was a 1973 Olds Custom Cruiser with the 7.5L Rocket 455 V8. What a monster; I think it would spin the tires if you let off the brakes too quickly when it was wet out. My sister knocked our garage off the foundation when she was learning to drive – my dad just reversed the car and pulled it back on. Dad bought a new Olds wagon in 1988 and that was the last of the wagons for him. The packaging just didn’t make sense anymore once the car landscape included minivans and SUVs.

        I felt nostalgic and bought a Volvo V70 when my first child was born. It’s a great car, but looking back I wouldn’t do it again. When compared against other options, the roof is too low and makes climbing around inside the car more tedious than it has to be. Sure, we are doing just fine with it but for the same money we could be even happier.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Station wagons and compact pickup trucks simply went out of style. As a counter argument, CAFE footprint based fuel economy requirements should have helped bring back the Holden Ute/Chevrolet El Camino. The car-based Ute has less frontal area to push through the air than a full-sized pickup and the footprint is larger than a compact truck. A V8 powered Ute can be a high-profit muscle car that plays by truck CAFE rules. Should be a winner, but no manufacturer has made a serious effort to adapt these already developed Australian utes to the US market. My conclusion is they found the US market demand for utes to be too small to justify the small development cost.

      I have a theory is that style preferences of women drive the market for most big ticket family purchases. As an example, I’m single and own a 4 bedroom 2000 sqft single-story home in an older suburban neighborhood. Several different women have told me that my house and neighborhood is unacceptable and that the threshold must-have for successful family housing is a two-story starter castle with a fairly impressive two-story foyer. Similarly, women seem to drive the demand for CUVs vs. station wagons. Seems to be a strong female preference for being able to see over other vehicles.

      I think the compact pickup truck is a victim of the same market forces that killed the hatchback in the US. Both the compact pickup and the hatchback gained a cheap car image. Back when cars and car styling wore out faster, a new cheap car might be a better deal than a high-mileage used car. Today there is no good reason for a somewhat image conscious retail customer to buy a cheap car they’d be embarrassed to be seen in. Same money will buy a much more desirable used vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        More is the case the “Corvette with a Bed” Maloo and the 1800lb in the tray Holden Ute, the Ford Falcon Cab Chassis with it 2,700lb payload, do not fit easily into a “US truck” category. Trying to sell what they are, would be difficult in the US, as they are not new versions of “El Caminos” either.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Strong member of the Ranger jihad who fully supports his small truck driving brothers. 2X4’s or a couch stuck out the bed? Put a red flag on your cargo, tie and/or bungee it down and roll down the road. Small trucks were usually bought as daily drivers with a hint of women want me, fish fear me, and monster bucks run right under my tree stand. They were slightly more sophisticated than a tractor and were beloved like a pair of favorite jeans. Also, a lot easier to park in a downtown parking space and your garage. A small but fiercely loyal band of consumers feels let down by Detroit. A lot of smack is being talked by those who never owned a small truck.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Love me a brand new S10 standard cab with the 7 foot “long bed” option and 4.3V6. That was a compact truck you could work. Same thing with the standard cab Ranger with 7 ft bed and 4.0V6.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Not up for debate that CAFE post 2006 is batshit crazy. (Just as nearly everything else Washington has inflicted on us post 2006.)

    But compact trucks and station wagons didn’t die in 2006. They died 10 years before that, in a happy time of $1 gas and easily attainable CAFE goals that hadn’t changed since the mid 80s.

    The elephant in the room is that compact trucks are cramped and uncomfortable and wagons are about as cool as safety scissors. Things you settle for when a car loan had 15% interest. This country isn’t that badly off yet.

  • avatar
    NewLookFan

    Yeah, if that couch sticks out, put a flag on it. It will haul it. My compact truck fits in my garage at the end of the day, a full size one won’t.

    And if you think that this discussion is boring, why did you read this far down the blog?

    I guess people forget (or don’t want to admit) that CAFE and the Arab embargo had nothing to do with the dawn of small truck popularity in the US. Nissan, and to a lesser extent Toyota saw increasing sales of compact trucks in the late ’60s and the beginning of the ’70s, forcing Detroit to at first offer captive import offerings. The soaring value of the yen later, and continued popularity made it feasible to produce small trucks in the US. Just as the VW Beetle rose in popularity due to some auto buyers seeking an alternative to large cars of the ’50s, the compact truck segment did the same around 15 years later.

    When I began to read this article, I feared that it might be another slag on the compact truck, but DK has brought up some interesting points which remind me of my own truck. My 2001 S10 has the 2.2L/5spd, and is listed as a flex fuel vehicle, although there isn’t an emblem in sight signifying this “feature”. I don’t know the specifics, but this vehicle appears to have been made because there was a loophole that credited flex fuel vehicles with a highly generous EPA mileage rating that could be used to offset the less economical large trucks. It was cheap, it put a compact truck in my garage, and I’m happy for that. But now, it looks like what CAFE giveth, CAFE taketh. At least in part.

    There may be a future for compact trucks, but there isn’t enough of a market for most manufacturers to participate in. Perhaps someone can try again to offer something based on a fwd car to spread costs, like what Fiat offers elsewhere.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    What kills new compact trucks is used full size trucks and minivans. A Dodge Caravan will outhaul most compact trucks and the new Pentastar Ram gets better highway gas mileage than any compact automatic truck ever built. Compact trucks are just poorly engineered cars that allow people who can’t afford a real truck to say they have a truck(penis issues anyone?)

  • avatar
    Jacob

    The solution of CAFE’s SUV loophole could be pretty easy. Get rid of it. Require that any “light truck” vehicle should have a cargo bed. It’s that simple. Clearly, the Washington does not want to do this.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      The PT Cruiser got “light truck” status precisely because it had a “large” flat cargo bed when the back seats were folded down.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      With regard to CAFE truck exemptions, dot gov is between rock and a hard place. You remove the exemption and you literally run the risk of bankrupting the Big Three, one of which they are heavily invested into, and the other two probably have some ties such as DOE loans etc.

      What should have happened forty years ago was heavy tariffs on the Japanese imports but whats done is done and now Asian brands more or less control the small to midsize automobile market. Detroit is building the best cars of their history and the resale is still pitiful, unless dot gov is going to dismantle Toyota of America after the remove the CAFE exemption, it would be a sales bloodbath… hence political forces allowing exemptions to continue.

      The irony is of course all of the *UVs are more or less station wagons for their respective time periods, and ironically I predict we’ll wind up with actual station wagons again at some point.

      80s BOF Station Wagon —> 90s BOF SUV —> 00s Unibody CUV —> 10s station wagon —> 20s Horse and buggy (peak oil, world war, economic collapse, take your pick)

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Yes, small trucks are poorly engineered cars: comically-oversprung rear suspensions that break with any significant load, miserably cramped and harsh riding, the handling of a wooden-wheeled oxcart, slower than a candied turd, getting maybe 2 mpg better than a properly equipped full-size at best. They died completely when Ford started selling the ecoboost and Dodge started selling the new V-6. Small pickups were a response to malaise era carbed cars. Fuel injection and the newest engines finished the job of killing them off.

    I’ve had three Rangers over the years, and now my commuter car of choice is a Miata. When I need to get serious with towing or hauling, out comes a 3/4 ton.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Anyone who owns a Toyota Hi-Lux would be reading your comments in stark disbelief and wondering what planet you are from. I am referring to the real Hi-Lux that is found around the world, widely respected for it’s fantastic engineering and ability, and not the Tacoma.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’ve heard of the Hilux, its the “freedom fighter’s” truck of choice and is apparently made of the black box material from airplanes. Why is it we can’t have it, whats the real reason for Tacoma and not Hilux?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Easy. They would not sell in the US. Too loud, too rough riding, too crude. Americans want their “trucks” to be cars with no trunklid. And I doubt that a current HiLux is any more reliable than a Tacoma, other than in the sense of what is not there can’t break.

    • 0 avatar
      Hoser

      But I don’t need to get serious with hauling/towing. I’ve had 1800 lbs in the back of my 4×2 2.3 5spd Ranger, the number of times I can count on one hand. It did it. Not real well, nothing I would want to do on a daily basis, but it got the job done. It tows around my 1000lb sailboat just fine in 4th gear. Slow? Yeah, ya got me there. 100HP and 3.46 gears doesn’t make for zippy. +2 mpg? What properly equipped full-size trucks are getting 26mpg? My ’94 still does 28mpg at 176k miles, later Duratec 2.3s did even better with more HP and 4.10 gears..

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Once upon a time there was a pooch named Cafe. While he did not win any beauty contests, he was friendly and trusting. One day, his owner named uncle Sam was out walking Cafe when he met up with a group called the Big Three and their rapacious friend Mr Lobby. Sam showed the group the trick he taught Cafe on how rate their vehicles for fuel efficiency. Big three and Lobby were very impressed with this trick and asked San if they could have a little time alone with Sam to see if he could do the trick without Sam who agreed as long as they promised not to screw the pooch which they did as soon as Sam was out of the room.
    And Sam hasn’t been quite the same.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    While I think it is true that large wagons of the “plywood pleasure palace” persuasion died a natural death a long time ago, small wagons dying is a much more recent phenomenom. And I blame it on CAFE and marketing. CAFE means that a Ford Escape needs to meet less stringent regulations than a Focus Wagon, and the marketers realized they could sell an Escape for significantly more than a Focus Wagon. And so the Jetta Wagon is the only non-premium class small to mid-size proper wagon on the market in the US. But we have multiple CUV offerings that do nothing better, handle worse, ride worse, and get worse fuel economy than an equivalently spacious small station wagon.

    The other regulatory issue that goes unsaid in all this is the ridiculous cost of certifying minor variations on cars in this country. This is the real reason that we get so few body styles. It should not matter if the basic car has 3, 4, or 5 doors as long as it is mechanically structurally nearly identical. If the 4dr passes muster, the 5 door should get a free pass too.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      What? Small wagons have been dead for at least a decade, and the segment had been terminal since probably the mid ’80s. Ford had the segment to itself with the first Focus and still couldn’t justify enough to continue selling it. Even Volvo and Subaru, despite making their names on wagons, couldn’t make a case sell their wagons here anymore, despite the fact that their most popular products are, literally, those exact same wagons with a lift kit.

      The Jetta is an oddball exception because it has a premium stigma and because people who traditionally buy Volkswagens are the same people who simply will not shut up about wagons, diesels, stickshifts, etc.

      I don’t blame consumers for preferring CUVs, though. To the non car person, an Escort wagon was for losers. By comparison, an Escape is kinda cool. People really like to seem sitting up higher too, handling be damned. It is what it is.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Subaru and Volvo simply realised that they could make more money selling jacked up wagons. The average customer who was interested in a Legacy Wagon or a Volvo V70 is easily swung up into a Forester/Outback or XC60/XC70 because ultimately they serve the same general function. But they cost significantly more, and thus are more profitable to the auto maker. But they don’t ride as well, handle as well, and get worse gas mileage than the “normal” wagons. Oh yeah, and they cost significantly more to buy.

        At least one maker did get burned by this though – BMW. They stopped importing the 5-series wagon in favor of the 5GT. And lost virtually all of those sales to Mercedes, while the 5GT canabalised sales of the more profitable 7-series. Oops. BMW of all people should have known they had a dedicated bunch of wagon buyers who would not compromise, and who were willing to pay a premium for their vehicle of choice.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Subaru and Volvo realized those things because the average customer who is interested in a wagon doesn’t exist.

        People to whom handling matters didn’t shop the V70 over the XC70. They didn’t shop a Volvo at all.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And yet somehow my local Volvo dealer sold over 50% regular wagons (split 50:50 between FWD and AWD) right up until Volvo stopped importing them. The rest of their sales were split between the X-cars and the sedans. Absolutely NO shortage of regular wagons of all flavors around here from all makes. My local BMW dealer has seen a nice uptick in 3-series wagon sales since the alternatives have fallen away (though mine was the only RWD stickshift e91 they ever sold). They have quite a backlog of folks waiting for the Spring arrival of the f31.

        Than again, this is New England where people seem to have somewhat higher than average levels of automotive common sense.

      • 0 avatar
        ptschett

        WRT handling: I’ve seen data indicating that the 2013 Escape can pull off better skidpad lateral G’s than the Jetta wagon. (References: Edmunds’ Jetta diesel wagon vs. Prius V test, and Escape vs. CR-V test.)

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @ptschett, skidpad measures mostly lateral grip, not handling, as it’s a steady-state smooth circle of pavement. Tire grip is a big factor.

        If you look at the same two tests, you will see that the Jetta wagon’s slalom speed was still higher than the Escape’s (63.7 vs 61-62 mph) in spite of the lower grip. This is where the CUV’s higher centre of gravity pays the penalty.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      “and the marketers realized they could sell an Escape for significantly more than a Focus Wagon.”

      Right. But *why* are they able to sell an Escape for more than a Focus Wagon?

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Station wagons were declining in the mid 70’s with first crisis. The woody look was passe’ with Boomers, and the minivan was a case of “A question someone asked”.

    Women are the deciders of what will drive the family, CAFE didn’t kill them, fashion did. They went out with beehive hairdos and avacado kitchens.

    Yeah, ‘real car guys’ want a manual diesel wagon. But reality it’s “Honey, no way! It’s no the 50’s”

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree, the only real question is what can we do about it?

      My fav response to the gf (or women in general) to “its not the 50s” crap is my who would want to live in a time where America was at the height of its power, the economy had woken up after a long slumber and subsequent war, where diseases were being cured (Salk/Polio) and not merely “treated”, where you didn’t have to go 50K into school debt to get a fricking job, more than likely had a company pension and retirement to look forward too, and despite a Cold War and quite a bit of other messed up stuff in society, you could live a pretty good life doing honest work. Yeah who would want that?

      • 0 avatar

        I think you’re letting your ideological passions override your common sense.

        Yes, women are the ultimate arbiters of most vehicle purchases. SUVs came into vogue when station wagons became unfashionable. Then CUVs came when SUVs became unfashionable. Chances are there’s something on the horizon that’ll come into vogue once women drivers get sick of CUVs.

        In other words, they’re not gonna be caught dead in cars their mothers drove and their friends find passe.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The only “real” car guys I’ve ever heard of who want a manual diesel wagon seem to be on the internet.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The best course of action would have been to ignore CAFE altogether. The government has no rights, only responsibilities and only those powers necessary to fulfill those responsibilities. Public safety is one of those, and pollution control can reasonably be associated with safety of the public. Fuel economy is neither except tangentially, with other measures more appropriate, and reducing dependence on foreign oil is not a power granted under the Constitution, and achievable by other means. It’s now too late for manufacturers to take a united stance against what is nothing more than a power grab by regulatory agencies of state and federal governments.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    If I have the story right, the Ford Transit Connect, made in Turkey is imported with rear seats to evade the chicken tax. They are fairly popular, what happens to all the seats? Also, I like the 94 Ranger. I want a small 4wd pick up to negotiate my woodlot. The F150 is too big.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      They are delivered with both seats and windows. The windows are also removed with the van conversion.

      I believe that the seats are ground up and the material recycled. You would think that Ford would stock them as aftermarket parts and resell them, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        You would think Ford would ship them back to Turkey to install in the next batch of Transits.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        You would think Ford would ship them back to Turkey to install in the next batch of Transits.

        First, the logistics of such a move would be cost-prohibitive. Second, you probably can’t install those seats in a vehicle a second time and still call it a new vehicle. Third, what makes you think Turkey wants to let the parts come back in and reduce the output of the in-country factory without some sort of duty or tariff?

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        It’s sold as a premium wagon in north America with seats. The option is out there.

        Most of them are retrofitted with livery/fleet companies. So I’m not sure if the market exists for the seats.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I like this article and it makes a good point. There might be other factors that have lead to the mysterious disappearance of the small truck but… The important thing is, is that there should be smaller trucks on the market. There is in fact no good excuse for there being almost no choice for individuals and for businesses. Any one who claims there is no point or no interest is flatly wrong. It’s about the right vehicle for the job and not every job needs a full size truck.
    Regardless of the blame, this needs to be fixed!

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “There is in fact no good excuse for there being almost no choice for individuals and for businesses.”

      These days, it’s really hard to find a decent chariot. Where are the choices for those of us who like Ben Hur? Maybe I can find a way to blame the government…

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        PCH,
        It may or may not be that the regs are the reason we don’t have compact pickups here, it’s up for discussion. Your comment does nothing but show your stripes. Beerboy’s post is reasonable.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @BeerBoy12 – Yes we should have more choices as well as more ‘mom-n-pop’ establishments, but their demise can also traced to lack of market share and someone else doing it better.

  • avatar
    50merc

    This whole mess would not exist save for three great errors: foolish hysteria about carbon, “energy shortage” nonsense, and the policy of punishing consumers by shackling producers. The rent seekers won’t change because that would hurt their selfish interests.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    This is a good article. I’m sure it’s not the only factors but it definitely has played a significant role in screwing with the vehicles many of us prefer.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    A couple of things to remember when it comes to trucks anyway, is that when the Ranger and S-10/S-15 trucks came out, they didn’t have any huge V6’s, the best the Ranger had was the 2.8L V6, then it went to a 2.9L, then the 3.0 Vulcan, and then the daddy of them all, the 4.0L V6, and it was a porker, compared to the others.

    EPA on them were, at best, something like 16/22, and that may have been under the current numbers, which makes them not that much more efficient than their larger siblings. I think a V8 equipped F150 was slightly worse.

    A buddy of mine ended up with a 2001 Ford F150 crew cab 4×4, Lariat package with the V8 (used, with about 70K on it at the time), and it was still better than the V6 equipped Tacomas mileage/performance wise. But by then, the Tacoma was starting to become the bloated vehicles they are today.

    Earlier in the year, I shot a photo of two Toyota Tacomas, one an older model, the other much newer, and there was definitely a difference in their size, with the newer truck being larger, and taller.

    I had the 4.0L V6 in my 1992 Ranger, and I bet I didn’t get much more than 22mpg out of that vehicle on the highway, and this one had the 5spd manual too, and it had a MUCH larger fuel tank and I doubt I ever filled it up fully more than a half dozen times in nearly 6 years as its size was something like 18-20Gallons.

    Today I drive Mazda Protege5, and while it’s mileage could be better, at 22/28 under the current numbers, and with 14.5Gallon tank, I can fill that tank up completely more often as it’s MUCH less painful to my budget, and my budget hasn’t budged much in recent years, but gas is higher these days, averaging around 4:15G at many stations.

    That to me is what may have killed off the Ranger, at least in part. keep it to no more than a 3.0L V6, at most, it might have stuck around here in the US more, but when you can get a V6 F-150 that is capable of BETTER mileage than it’s similarly equipped Ranger, why not buy the F150?

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    “I would have rather seen the global Ranger leverage the P415 platform, a la F100, but that’s just my opinion. I think trucks are suffering bloat.”
    The Bloat will continue. The next Hilux will be bigger again.

    “Easy. They would not sell in the US. Too loud, too rough riding, too crude. Americans want their “trucks” to be cars with no trunklid. And I doubt that a current HiLux is any more reliable than a Tacoma, other than in the sense of what is not there can’t break ”

    Obviously have never been in one. Not much difference in ride quality between a Dual Cab F150 and a Dual Cab Hilux(I have been in both)

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    It must be the time zone thing but all the comments so far have been from Americans so maybe I can add some foreign perspective or ask some questions that don’t apply domestically.
    Here in Oz, what you call compact trucks are very popular. Hilux is king but the new Ranger is the best truck, first with a five star ANCAP safety rating. There are also plenty of Colorados, Navaras, Amaroks, BT50s etc. There are also the homegrown utes – car based farm sports cars based on Holdens and Falcons.
    However the F150 is as rare as rocking horse poo. The large Chrysler and GM trucks do not exist at all. For all I know they are not made in RHD.
    The Ranger is said to get about 9.5 litres/100km for the 3.2 V6 and you can see it here http://www.ford.com.au/commercial/new-ranger

    My question is simple but the answer may be complex. Why is our truck landscape so different to yours? Our countries are similar sizes with wide open spaces and large distances to cover. We have similar needs to haul stuff. Is it just different government regs? Is it to do with where the trucks are made? I don’t know.

    • 0 avatar
      NewLookFan

      Spike, I think you’re right in that the answer to the differing truck landscape is complex. But I believe that there are 2 primary factors in the answer. One being the cost of petrol – I have no idea what it costs in Oz, but I’m sure it’s significantly more than we Americans pay. Two, I believe it’s a societal thing where smaller equates to poverty and/or failure. We are supposed to aspire to larger homes, vehicles, etc.

      BTW, your Ford Ranger is quite nice, but I think it would be considered a mid-size truck in the US. It’s significantly larger than my S10.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        We aspire to similar things. At one stage our Homes were the biggest in the world. As far as differences go it is more the society, what it wants from its vehicles i.e Australians like Off Road RV’s, it is far from a big issue in the US. The Ranger is a “1 ton” Pickup, roughly 9/10ths the size of a base F150. It has good Off road characteristics important here and a almost 3/4 ton payload.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @RobertRyan – When you have a small and light weight truck and give it 3/4 ton payload/suspension, what kind of ride qualities do you expect? More jounce to the ounce?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Spike – The North American fleet market is tremendous and I’m sure like no other. That encompasses government, national security, road maintenance, conservation & environmental quality, hazardous materials, oil pipelines, construction, auto repair, transportation & service industries, farm & livestock production and the utilities of gas, electric, water & sanitary.

      All this means is huge percentage of NA pickups are ordered as base strippers and OEMs just need to offset these with a heavy dose of hard loaded/premium retail/civilian pickups. This is definitely not a problem with full-size trucks, however, mid-size retail buyers are notoriously frugal and base models are also cross shopped against Corollas and Focus’ by commuters wanting cheap, economical transportation.

      The ’79 oil crisis opened the flood gates to small trucks, but as fuel became cheap & plentiful and the mini-truck craze came to an end, OEMs faced the declining profits of a niche market. Mitsu and Isuzu retreated while while the Big 3 reconsidered their stake. Notice Nissan dropped their regular cab Frontier and Titans to sidestep the fleet industry and economy car shoppers.

      OZ does have a lot of demographic similarities with NA, but because NA can split the difference between mid-size and homegrown full-size and OZ can’t, there’s your biggest difference. When given a choice, neutral truck buyers looking into hard loaded 4X4 extended cab full-size or double cab mid-size at similar pricing and MPG, full-size will almost always win. Full-size truck buyers take away the lion’s share of hard loaded 4X4 profits away from mid-size OEMs. In OZ and other markets, these buyers are forced into a one-size-fits-all demo.

      Full-size extended cabs and mid-size double cabs offer similar F/R legroom, but with less across seating. When buyers want full-size crew cabs, there’s no comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        There are some dimensions of US full-size pickup trucks that have been fairly standard for at least 50 years. The main one is standard 4 ft x 8 ft sheets of building materials like plywood and sheetrock can lay flat between the wheel wells of a US full size pickup. There are various accessories like tool boxes that depend on a predictable bed width.

      • 0 avatar
        Spike_in_Brisbane

        I have experienced the American iconisation of large trucks first hand. When I lived in California, every business trip I made to Texas resulted in Avis “upgrading” my ride to an F150. I accepted this the first time but subsequently, when I would request the Impala or Camry I had asked for, I would be met with dejected counter staff who thought I was being ungrateful. What I really wanted was a quiet comfortable, economical vehicle which would be easy to park on multiple customer visits.
        I found their attitude unfathomable but my American colleagues thought it completely normal. There are such things as cultural differences.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    It is very different. The Distances traveled are only a superficial similarity. The US is a country of over 300 million with many large cities. As a result there is a a lot of transport by Rail and shipping.
    Generally the heavy loads you would see on Australian roads are non-existant. HDT Trucks are roughly one trailer. Maximum GVM 80,000lbs. MDT Trucks numbers we regularly see in Australia are very rare indeed. A “MDT” truck stops at 33,000lbs, not the 90,000 you get here. Farms are a lot smaller, so the HDT’s and MDT’s you see carrying produce in Australia are also non-existant.F150’s are mainly “SUV’s with Beds”

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    My neighborhood Toyota 22RE friends are absolutely fanatic about the durability and dependability of that old workhorse motor. As they should be. It is without a doubt one of the, if not the most long lasting motor made by anyone…..EVER. That’s why the Taliban use them as troop transports: They can go 300,000 between oil changes.

    The United States is not a destitute 3rd world country, so we expect more out of our trucks. And when the Toyota fanatics need to do some real hauling, out comes my busted-arse F-150 with the storied 300 six. Which is in its own right, one of the most long lasting and dependable motors ever built. And repeatedly, they have assured me that the F-150 routinely gets BETTER gas mileage that the Toyotas of the same genre. It is FAR more comfortable and faster on long trips. And its load and tow capabilities are many magnitudes greater.

    It is hilarious that this website routinely lampoons small stripper cars as “penalty boxes” yet sings the praises of small stripper pickups to high heavens!

    Fast forward to the modern F-150s (particularly with Ecoboost) and the Silverados (with the smaller vortecs) versus the Tacomas and Frontiers that are still available. My uncle has the new Ecoboost, my brother in law has a similarly-equipped brand new Frontier. Again, the gas mileage penalty is at best a wash for the Frontier, if the Ecoboost doesn’t actually get better. The capabilities of the F-150 for hauling and towing are many moons better. The F-150 is far more comfortable and more powerful than the Frontier.

    I have driven both. And it is painfully obvious why both Toyota and Nissan belatedly attempted and failed to build competitive full-size pickups. This article should have explored the reasons why Toyota and Nissan tried so hard failed so abysmally at full size pickups. They obviously knew the writing was on the wall for small pickups. The current crop of American full-size pickups I would wager are some of the most dramatically improved and efficient vehicles (for their size and capabilities) that has ever been built.

    And old guys like me, who too routinely break even 1/2 ton full size pickups with heavy loads and towing end up buying 3/4 ton and one ton rigs. This article, had it been unbiased and honest, would have explored the reasons that 3/4 ton and 1-ton pickups still sell so well at high gas prices and how the buyers are actually using these higher capabilities. In these days of high gas prices, is there eventually going to be a market for ANY half ton pickup? The days of commuting via ANY pickup are probably over for good.

    CAFE did not kill off the small pickup. Rather, the new engine technologies made full-size pickups dramatically more efficient, thereby summarily eliminating the small pickup market. The inherent shape of a pickup and driveline requirements, big or small, exacts most of the fuel mileage penalty over a car.

    Toyota and Nissan learned that lesson too late at their peril.

    • 0 avatar
      Larry P2

      Technology is completely eliminating all kinds of form factors. I have argued that dramatic technological upheavals, more than CAFE, has summarily eliminated the market for compact pickups. Technology has produced full-size luxury-equipped 4 wheel drive pickups with the gas mileage of the subcompact cars available in 1974.

      Technology has also blessed us with incredibly efficient, monstrously capable and earth-shatteringly powerful diesel 3/4 ton and 1 ton full size pickups. Unfortunately, so far this discussion has only compared gasoline powered 1/2 full size pickups usurping small pickups. Heavy Duty diesel pickups have dramatically carved out an entirely new market that simply did not exist during the heyday of compact pickups.

      And these heavy duty diesel trucks……were they the reason that Toyota’s and Nissan’s death-grab at the full size pickup market ultimately floundered?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Exactly. It is technology driven by customer demand, not regulation that has overall changed the market landscape. Of course regulation limits the choices, but overall, if the customers didn’t buy, there would be no market.

  • avatar
    Neb

    Nice article, Derek. I think you are completely right that CAFE exists now as a prop to the domestic auto industry.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      You have it backwards. CAFE doesn’t exist to prop up US manufacturers, but is adjusted to not outright stomp them out. They could stand perfectly well without the CAFE regulations.

  • avatar
    slow_poke

    +1 Derek, well done. thanks for the info. i agree its killing the station wagon and tiny truck market.

    what’s an SUV but a station wagon that’s less aerodynamic and heavier. and to those that said that their ranger only got 22mpg, remember that was in ‘92,93. put a skyactiv in one today and what’ll you get? 35? there no way a f-150 sized and a mid-90’s small truck sized vehicle have the same mileage built today have the same mileage. add 8-10mpg to the new F-150s… i’d think about that.

    and to all those excessive 3/4 ton / 1 ton pickups. if i had a friggin’ dime for every unused lb. of GVWR or towing i wouldn’t be here, toiling in front of this screen, i’d be surfing off the reef of the island i bought. (oh, and sweating the ocean level rise… even the ultra rich have problems…)

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    “@RobertRyan – When you have a small and light weight truck and give it 3/4 ton payload/suspension, what kind of ride qualities do you expect? More jounce to the ounce”

    We are not masochists. The Hilux is the best selling “car” in Australia. New Pickups have have SUV ride and handling. The F150 is as rare as Rocking Horse Droppings. On the Other hand we do have 3/4 ton, 1 ton and Duallies used by the RV crowd. These satisfy the need for a car like towing vehicle that can easily parked and have a reasonable to considerable towing ability for a RV.

    “@Spike – The North American fleet market is tremendous and I’m sure like no other. That encompasses government, national security, road maintenance, conservation & environmental quality, hazardous materials, oil pipelines, construction, auto repair, transportation & service industries, farm & livestock production and the utilities of gas, electric, water & sanitary”

    Every fleet on the globe has those requirements.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @RobertRyan,

      “We are not masochists. The Hilux is the best selling “car” in Australia. New Pickups have have SUV ride and handling.”

      How badly do your SUVs ride? There’s plenty of online advise on how to soften Hilux ride charactoristics that many agree really comes with the territory.

      Every Hilux review does highlight its ride quality.

      “Unless you really need the financial advantages of owning a pick-up, it’s hard to overlook the Toyota Hilux’s shortcomings, such as the poor ride and refinement. Most people will be better off with a conventional 4×4″ – WHATACAR.com

      http://www.whatcar.com/car-reviews/toyota/hilux-pick-up/summary/25504-14/

      Other reviews say it has much improved ride quality.

      “Every fleet on the globe has those requirements.”

      OK, you got me there. The bigger question is how global OEMS are able to generate a profit while catering to these highly discounted, stripper buying cheapskates of the world?

      Cheap 3rd world labor? Keeping a tired platform around until 10s of millions sell? Sharing the platform? Selling almost as many loaded up, high end models of said platform?

      The fleet market is a tough one to turn a profit with and likely not possible in NA for mid-size trucks. If full-size trucks didn’t exist here and your choice was either mid-size truck or SUV, it would obviously be a different story.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        “The fleet market is a tough one to turn a profit with and likely not possible in NA for mid-size trucks.”

        Not the same market and they do have a problem making profits.I suggest you read up about the operations of overseas OEMS before pretending to be an expert on fleet sales.

        “How badly do your SUVs ride? There’s plenty of online advise on how to soften Hilux ride charactoristics that many agree really comes with the territory.”

        Really? Have you ridden in one? I think the answer is no. I have ridden in both F150’s and Hilux’s and the ride quality is not that far removed. That includes riding a Hilux over dirt roads in Mountains in New Zealand. SUV’s ? , try the Toyota Landcruiser BMW’s, Mercedes etc all available here

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @RobertRyan,

        “Not the same market and they do have a problem making profits.I suggest you read up about the operations of overseas OEMS before pretending to be an expert on fleet sales.”

        OK fine, I’m not an expert on overseas OEMs, but some things are universal. Tell me on what planet, fleet sales of low volume, base strippers are any more than barely profitable if at all? I mean without some or most of the scenarios I mentioned. Platform sharing, 3rd world labor, etc.

        “Really? Have you ridden in one?”

        Right again, but I’m the wrong guy to notice a bad or rough ride. I’m in an F-550 most of the day, but either way, your anecdotal, and unbiased(?) opinion will never trump common sense. Start by explaining how a ‘light weight’, mid-size pickup with 3/4 ton payload and 3/4 ton suspension can ride any better than an actual, ‘heavy weight’ NA 3/4 ton, let alone a 1/2 ton?

        Other than that, do you have any reviews/links of F-150s which exhibit poor ride charactistics? Any forums that recommend taking out leafs? Adding ballast? Progressive type springs or air bags? Driving with 28 psi in the tires? There’s plenty of Hilux forums that do exactly that.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    “OK fine, I’m not an expert on overseas OEMs, but some things are universal”

    Really you have absolutely no idea how fleet services operate outside NA but you are an expert?? Come on you can do better than that. Try and find some information.

    “Really? Have you ridden in one?”
    Right again, but I’m the wrong guy to notice a bad or rough ride. I’m in an F-550 most of the day, but either way, your anecdotal, and unbiased(?) opinion will never trump common sense. Start by explaining how a ‘light weight’, mid-size pickup with 3/4 ton payload and 3/4 ton suspension can ride any better than an actual, ‘heavy weight’ NA 3/4 ton, let alone a 1/2 ton?”

    My Point you have not even seen a Hilux, let alone ridden in one, but again your an expert. The F550 is not used on Industrial sites here as it is considered basically rubbish(stronger terms have been uttered on other forums) , would you agree? Yes they did try them here. Yes I have at least seen a F550.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    @RobertRyan,

    “Really you have absolutely no idea how fleet services operate outside NA but you are an expert?? Come on you can do better than that. Try and find some information.”

    What does it matter “how fleet services operate outside of NA”? I’m talking about ‘profitability’ (or lack thereof) of global fleet sales and how profitability is universal. If not, let’s hear how global fleet sales do not operate on a thin profit margin. How are they so profitable while ours definitely are not?

    I never said I was an expert on global fleet sales, but because you ARE an expert, I asked you: “The biggger question is how are global OEMs able to generate a profit while catering to these highly discounted, stripper buying cheapskates of the world?” If you cannot answer it, just admit you’re no expert or simply wrong. When I’m wrong, I admit it.

    “My Point you have not even seen a Hilux, let alone ridden in one, but again your an expert. The F550 is not used on Industrial sites here as it is considered basically garbage , would you agree? Yes they did try them here. Yes I have at least seen a F550.”

    I only mentioned F-550s as to reference my personal sense of refinement or lack thereof. F-550s, like all medium duties, feel like they have no suspension until near max GVWR. The same is partly true of F-150s, but more so concerning Hilux.

    I asked you to back up your opinions/statements about Hilux vs F-150 ride charactoristics with facts or links, but I can see you’re sidestepping the whole topic and on a tangent about F-550s.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    “How are they so profitable while ours definitely are not?”

    Well if you knew about the fleet services outside the US, you would know that? You are the one that made the initial and untrue statement that the US had the best and most comprehensive fleet service of vehicles in the world. Give examples of US and example of one outside successful fleets? That was from your initial statement.

    “feel like they have no suspension until near max GVWR
    The same is partly true of F-150s, but more so concerning Hilux.”

    This is getting better. You have never seen a Hilux, never been in one, but you now say that it has certain suspension characteristics that it shares with the F150. Your a mine of information Denvermike. What is your take on the new Hilux being developed?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Robert Ryan,

      “Well if you knew about the fleet services outside the US, you would know that? You are the one that made the initial and untrue statement that the US had the best and most comprehensive fleet service of vehicles in the world. Give examples of US and example of one outside successful fleets? That was from your initial statement.”

      My initial statement was “The NA fleet market is tremendous and I’m sure like no other. That encompasses government…”
      “All this means is huge percentage of NA pickups are ordered as base strippers and OEMs just need to offset these with a heavy dose of hard loaded/premium retail/civilian pickups. This is definitely not a problem with full-size trucks, however, mid-size retail buyers are notoriously frugal and base models are also cross shopped against Corollas and Focus’ by commuters wanting cheap, economical transportation.”

      Where did I say “the US had the best and most comprehensive fleet service of vehicles in the world.”?
      I just said it was “tremendous and I’m sure like no other”. You can make all the of inferences you want, but I was talking about it’s size and how it impacts sales.

      “This is getting better. You have never seen a Hilux, never been in one, but you now say that it has certain suspension characteristics that it shares with the F150. Your a mine of information Denvermike. What is your take on the new Hilux being developed?

      How would my anecdotal evidence be any better than your’s? The Hilux is a well known spine buster around the world and that doesn’t just come out from nowhere. I asked you for testimonials, reviews or anything that can back up your opinion and this statement:

      “Not much difference in ride quality between a Dual Cab F150 and a Dual Cab Hilux(I have been in both)”

      Got any?

  • avatar
    piro

    1) Remove CAFE
    2) Increase tax on fuel
    3) ???
    4) Profit

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      1)Remove CAFE
      2)No new taxes
      3)???
      4)Profit

      FTFY

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        The gas taxes are long overdue to be raised. Its not a “new” tax, and with gas prices varying widely, it wont even be an issue. Gas prices are already high, and the sheeple are used to it and still buying what suits their needs.

        Of course, if you get rid of CAFE, how many government workers would get the axe?

        Now im not saying get rid of the EPA gas rating sticker… everyone should know what theyre getting into.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      1) Remove CAFE
      2) Increase tax on fuel
      3) keep investing in roads, and roads only.
      4) happier drivers

      FTFY

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    Raise the gas taxes to a reasonable level to keep the infrastructure intact, and end CAFE. Let manufacturers sell what they want, as long as it meets safety standards

    And let the market decide. Id love to see kei cars here (but with upsized engines), and minitrucks, and all sorts of oddness available.

    Seems to me the ones that get popular are cheap and cheerful. Samurai, Geo variants, minitrucks, gen1 xB…


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