The Wall Street Journal has a long article about Ford “working on one of the biggest gambles in its 108-year history: a pickup truck with a largely aluminum body.” Ford will make parts of its next generation F150 from aluminum to save some 700 lbs, which “would enable Ford’s trucks to go farther on a gallon of gasoline, and open the door to other changes, such as the use of smaller engines.” The fear is that some people will think Ford is building a truck for sissies. Read More >
What would we do without the neverending saga of the Mahindra brothers entering the United States of America with a truck? The publishing of white pages again has been prevented by the news that the U.S.-bound truck by Mahindra & Mahindra has suffered yet another of its many setbacks. The Indian company has halted development work on a pickup truck aimed at the U.S. market after a failure to win certification, Reuters says. Read More >
Some people say Obama saved GM from the abyss. Some people say GM sold its soul to the Chinese devil to cheat death. In truth, the future of General Motors rests on the shoulders of a 5-foot-2 woman by the name of Diana Tremblay. Writes Ben Klayman at Reuters:
“Global manufacturing chief Diana Tremblay is one of the highest-ranking women in the automotive industry. Throughout her 35-year career at GM, she has made her mark in what were regarded as male domains, from directing foundry workers to staring down union labor negotiators.
Now she faces an even more critical task for the world’s largest automaker – ensuring the smooth 2013 introduction of the remodeled full-size pickup trucks and SUVs, GM’s high-profile equivalent of a new Apple iPhone. Read More >
In the late 70’s, Volkswagen had plans to take over truck maker MAN and to sell a whole range of commercial vehicles, from light vans to heavy trucks under the MAN brand. MAN was never taken over, much to the relief of Volkswagen’s commercial vehicle division in Hannover that feared for its independence. Some 35 years later, the plan is close to become reality. Read More >
SUVs are one of the strongest segments in an otherwise lackluster Chinese car market. Who slept through this trend? The kingdom of trucks, Detroit. “Instead, Japanese and Korean makers prevail in the compact segment, while German companies dominate the luxury segment,” writes Reuters in an article about China’s infatuation with SUVs.
In China, 2.1 million SUVs were sold last year, up 25.3 percent from 2010, reaching 11.6 percent of light vehicle sales, data by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive show. In the same period, the Chinese market as a whole eked out only a small 2.45 percent gain. China already buys about half of the 4.1 million SUVs sold in the United States last year. A monster market, ignored by American SUVs. Read More >
While Detroit is getting ready for NAIAS, the archetypical Detroit company is showing its newest truck in India. At the New Delhi Auto Expo, Ford today unveiled the second generation of its EcoSport “compact SUV.” Our friends at India’s Motorbeam.com were there to snap some pictures for you. According to Ford’s press release, the SUV “will eventually be sold in nearly 100 markets worldwide.” So why haven’t you heard of a Ford EcoSport before? Read More >
Another day, another disappointment for American fans of the Indian automaker Mahindra’s rugged, diesel-powered trucks. Earlier rumors that Mahindra might build its trucks with Navistar in Alabama turn out to be false, as a press release published at MahindraPlanet notes
MUMBAI, India, December 17, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — “There have been reports in certain quarters of media and online space stating that Navistar USA will produce Mahindra’s T20 and T40 pick ups in Alabama, USA in 2012, which are completely baseless & incorrect. If & when there are any material developments, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited will communicate them directly and transparently.”
If you haven’t given up on the Mahindra dream, now might be a good time to consider it…
Fuelled by Nissan’s decision to move the HQ of it’s Infiniti brand to Hong Kong, rumors of an impending Chinese production of the upscale marque would not end. In November, while not denying the story out of hand, spokespeople in Yokohama indicated that announcements of Chinese production of Nissan’s luxury brand were premature. Today, China Daily has an interesting twist on the story: A trucks-for-luxury cars swap. Read More >
Based on Chevy’s new Global Colorado, this Trailblazer is an old-school, body-on-frame, SUV… which won’t be sold in this, the erstwhile capital of body-on-frame SUVs. Even though the Colorado will be produced in the US, which would make the Trailblazer an easy addition to the US lineup, Chevy seems determined to keep it out of the US. Because, as GM’s midsized truck VLE (vehicle line engineer) Brad Merkel puts it
The growing markets of the world want flexibility. That means power and capability combined with comfort and efficiency. TrailBlazer does it all. You can tow anything, go anywhere, comfortably seat seven people, and do so with the fuel efficiency associated with a smaller, less capable vehicle. It’s the complete package
But Americans don’t want any of that. Americans want a nice, car-based Equinox or Traverse. And that’s just what they’ll continue to get…
With traditional compact pickups growing into the new “midsized” segment, Scion has long been tipped as a likely candidate to lead the US market back towards smaller, car-based pickup trucks. And, Scion’s VP Jack Hollis tells TTAC’s sister site Autoguide that such a vehicle, though not a certainty, could be possible.
Versus other vehicles, I can’t say it’s priority one. I’m very interested in it. A lot of prospective owners are interested in it and every meeting I have in Japan, I’m asking, what else can we do.
Hollis reveals that he has, in the past, pushed for an imported Daihatsu pickup for Scion’s US lineup, but that regulatory issues killed the business case. But now he’s suggesting that Scion and Daihatsu might jointly develop a small, fuel-efficient pickup… just as Subaru and Toyota/Scion developed the FT-86 together. If that happens, I’d expect something larger than Daihatsu’s typical kei-style trucks, for reasons hinted at in the video above. And to help you understand the legacy that a Daihatsu-Scion pickup might draw upon, here are a few random images of Daihatsu “trucks” (or possible inspirations) through the ages.
Axle and transfer case-maker Marmon-Herrington is still around, supplying OEMs and the aftermarket alike with up-rated drivetrain components. But back in the ’40s and ’50s, the firm designed its own vehicles as well, from an air-droppable tank, to a South African armored car, to monocoque electric trolley buses. Its predecessor company, Marmon Motor Car Company, even built the first car to win the Indy 500, the Marmon Wasp. Sadly this beast, an experimental amphibious off-road (on-marsh) vehicle called the Rhino (more here), was never produced. Otherwise, the Marmon name might have been exhumed during the ’90s SUV boom by a bespoke coachbuilding firm, offering specially-bodied medium-duty truck chassis bearing the brand name that won the first Indy 500 and parachuted into Nazi Germany. Imagine the possibilities…
Editor’s note: GM has officially confirmed what the UAW already let slip: Chevy’s new midsized Colorado pickup will be built at the Wentzville, MO plant and sold in the US. More details on that decision are forthcoming, but in the meantime, here’s Edd Ellison’s report from the global launch of the Colorado in Bangkok, Thailand.
Chevrolet has launched its new-generation Colorado in Thailand where it will be built and exported to 60 global markets. In true GM style, the ceremony was lavish – a cluster of truck ploughed their way through a large field of crops planted in a Bangkok exhibition hall watched by the media, dealers and VIPs packed into several grandstands – and the message was just as upbeat, the automaker feeling it has a product that can compete in the crowded mid-size segment.
When we reported sales on Monday our conclusion was that “big is big again,” as full-sized pickups dominated growth in a surprisingly up month. So, how do you sell a ton of trucks in a month where gas was still hovering around the $3.50/gal mark? Easy: just throw some cash on the hood. Edmunds Autoobserver reports
From a low that generally occurred around April, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and the Chrysler Group LLC have markedly hiked incentive spending on full-size pickups. In April, the average TCI for the full-size pickup category – which also includes the almost statistically insignificant Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan and Honda Ridgeline – was $3,261 per vehicle. At the end of September, the average incentive for full-size pickups ballooned by more than 30 percent to $4,281 per vehicle.
Executives from the Detroit automakers insist that this was not simply an inventory-clearing move (because, by industry standards, having three times your monthly sales on the lot is “acceptable”), but manufacturers have been trimming truck production all year and with Days To Turn rising, clearing off the lots makes sense. Especially going into the traditionally slow truck sales months of October and November. Hit the jump for more September incentive and transaction price data…
How much do things change in 60 years? Sometimes the best answer to that kind of question is a picture. Here you can see an original Unimog (right), built sometime between the start of production in 1948 and 1951, when Mercedes bought the operation in order to expand it enough to keep up with demand. On the left is a “60th Anniversary” Unimog design concept, celebrating not the actual birth of the Unimog, but its purchase by Mercedes. Needless to say, the contrast between the two is… breathtaking. And if you’re curious about the evolution of this hugely influential vehicle, if you can’t help wondering how it grew from a (relatively) tiny, spartan utility vehicle to a garish, Mercedes-starred behemoth, be sure to check out Bertel’s illustrated history of the Unimog. It makes you wonder what the next 60 years have in store for vehicles like this… [images courtesy: Autobild]