It’s a well-known fact that Islamic State fighters enjoy using hardy Toyota pickups in their pursuit of cleansing the Middle East of people even slightly different from themselves, but they’ll need to restock after last week.
Recent Allied military advances, including a huge, weeks-long push that liberated the Iraqi city of Fallujah, have ISIS on the run, and the U.S. Air Force’s best aerial hardware just caught a huge number of their vehicles making a break for it.
The results, as Defense Department video of the strike shows, wasn’t pretty — for the insurgents or their trucks. (Read More…)
Few will be surprised to hear that Chrysler Group will end production of its Dakota compact pickup truck next Tuesday, as sales of all small-to-midsized pickups have cratered over the last decade. Indeed, the Detroit News reports that the end of Dakota production will result in the layoffs of only 39 employees, although that number may climb as high as 150. In any case, the end of Dakota production is just the tip of the iceberg: Ford’s Ranger goes out of production in December of this year, and GM’s Colorado/Canyon twins will be discontinued sometime next year. Though Dodge plans to bring a minivan-platform-based AWD “lifestyle pickup” to market as a 2014 model, and Chevy is planning to build a North American variant of its new Global Colorado for the 2015 model-year, we’re looking at a several-year interlude in which no American OEM will offer a small pickup in the US. And looking at this chart, you almost can’t blame them…
OK, we get it. Ford’s all-new global Ranger is “90 percent of an F-150” and it would make as much sense to sell it here as it would for Toyota to sell the Hilux alongside Tacomas and Tundras. We may not completely buy the argument that Fiesta, Focus and F-150 make for an adequate replacement to a true compact pickup in the US, but having starved that segment for so long, it’s understandable that Ford would now leave it to die. After all, nobody’s offered a truly new compact pickup for so long, it’s almost impossible to say whether the consumers or manufacturers killed off the once-burgeoning segment of efficient, utilitarian trucks.
With Mahindra struggling to offer its diesel pickups to American dealers, we aren’t holding out much hope of anything compact pickup-related changing anytime soon. Sure, there are whispers of a GM compact pickup in development (and some promising talk from Nissan), but that’s strictly in “wild ass rumor” territory. Meanwhile, VW is trying to apeal to more American consumers, doesn’t have a full-size truck lineup to cannibalize, and yet refuses to send its Amarok stateside. If any of the automakers is going to take a risk on compact (preferably diesel) pickups, Volkswagen seems like the one to do it. Alternatively, Mazda has its own version of the new Ranger and no full-sizers to cannibalize. Someone step up here!
We may love compact pickups here at TTAC, but apparently we’re in the minority. On the other hand, if the segment had some fresh blood, this graph might look a bit different…
If you’ve been reading TTAC regularly, you might have noticed that many of us have something of a soft spot for compact pickup trucks. And what started for me as an innate affinity for all forms of cheap, honest, rugged transportation has become full-blown affection on the strength of several months driving a ’92 Toyota with four-cylinders, four-wheel-drive and a manual transmission. Of course, all auto writers struggle with the disconnect between their personal taste and that of the buying public, and cheap full-sized trucks seem to have eliminated all chances of a re-investment in the segment. Ford, for one, has said that it plans on “replacing” its aged Ranger (which dies next year) with Ecoboost-powered F150 options and its Focus hatchback. Dodge, or Ram, or whoever builds the trucks in Auburn Hills is said to be considering an unibody Dakota replacement, but hasn’t made a peep about it in months. Meanwhile, GM is shutting down Canyon/Colorado production at its Shreveport plant by 2012, ending its half-hearted competition in the segment. But, according to Pickuptrucks.com (which is usually one of the best at breaking these kinds of stories), GM is considering a new entry into the otherwise neglected segment.
Ford’s facing one of the toughest challenges in automotive product planning: how to offer the competitive compact pickup consumers say they want without cannibalizing far more profitable full-sized trucks. The solution? Don’t offer a competitive compact pickup. “It’s no secret we have a new Ranger coming globally. We’re working on one for all the other markets in the world,” Ford’s Derrick Kuzak tells Pickuptrucks.com. “The difference is that all of those other markets only have a Ranger. They don’t have an F-150 above it.” See how that works? But don’t worry, Ranger fans. Ford has your effete, pathetic backs…
About a year ago, Nissan’s response to nose-diving truck sales betrayed some serious ambivalence about chasing the profitable-yet-dangerous segment. Its first plan was to rebadge the new Ram, but that deal has fallen apart in the wake of Chrysler’s shotgun wedding to Fiat. At a loss for options, Nissan canceled the Quest, QX56 and Armada and started tooling up its Canton plant to produce commercial vehicles. It looked like Nissan’s days in the truck market were over. Now, USA Today reports that Nissan is developing a new full-sized pickup (and SUV) after all. By itself. Who’d have thunk it?
The Argentinian-produced Volkswagen Amarok pickup might be coming to the US if VW thinks it can sell enough of them. VW of America’s Stephan Jacoby tells pickuptrucks.com “we’d have to sell at least 100,000 Amarok pickups to make it feasible.” But don’t get too excited: the only compact pickup to sell in those numbers is the Toyota Tacoma, which sold 102,327 units year-to-date.
Autoblog ran this picture purporting to show the locations of future dealers of Mahindra and Mahindra pickup trucks. This piqued our interest because we’ve been curious to see how the Indian firm’s plans to bring diesel-only compact pickups and SUVs to the US market would play out for some time. Over a year ago Mahindra said it would be delaying its US launch (originally planned for Spring 2009) until the fourth quarter of 2009 because, as Mr Mahindra himself put it “my family’s name is going onto this vehicle, and it’s not going to fail.” Well, here we are in the fourth quarter, and Mahindra is still calling the dots on the map “potential” outlets. They’ve also apparently pushed back the launch date again, to the first quarter of 2010. Automotive News [sub] reported way back when that Mahindra’s distributors (Global Vehicles USA) were asking for $200,000 in franchise fees. Maybe finding folks willing to pay that amount for the honor of selling diesel-only compact trucks and utes are hard to come by. Either way, it’s getting to be defecate-or-get-off-the-pot time.
Ford’s announcement today that the new global Ranger won’t be coming to the US sure seems like a head-scratcher. Though Automotive News [sub] quotes Ford’s Alan Mulally as saying the Ford Ka won’t be sold stateside because “our view is that Fiesta is about the smallest vehicle that we think will be a real success in the United States,” there’s no similar reason given for the absence of a modern compact pickup from Ford’s lineup. Or anyone else’s lineup, for that matter. The Canyon/Colorado are going out of production since the Shreveport, LA, plant is part of Old GM liquidation Corp. The Dodge, er, make that Ram Dakota will die next year according to the new plans at Chrysler. The Tacoma is no longer properly compact, and Volkswagen’s Brazilian “Robust” won’t be coming here either. Hell, even the latter-day El Camino was stillborn. But if my flu-addled memory serves me correctly, didn’t compact pickups help pull the US market out of one of its last great downturns? Why is it that nobody is giving this segment the time of day?