The next-generation Nissan Titan will make its debut in Detroit, at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.
89% of the pickup trucks sold in the United States in the first half of 2014 were full-size trucks, a segment of the auto market that has risen 4.3% so far this year.
U.S. sales of full-size trucks slid 4.5% in January 2014 as the two leading manufacturers of pickups reported falling sales of all their big trucks.
Typically the slowest month of the year for new vehicle sales, this past January should be no different, as the U.S. auto industry generated 32,000 fewer sales than it did one year ago. Although minivans, commercial vans, and the vast SUV/crossover segment all expanded, passenger car sales plunged, year-over-year, and truck volume declined, as well.
Among the pet segments that enthusiasts hold dear, none has been on a roll the way the mid-size truck market has been. News of the Chevrolet Colorado’s return, along with diesel and manual transmission options, have been greeted with the sort of fanfare that in the glossy buff book era would have been reserved for the newest European supercar.
But this is the age of the internet, the long tail and niches are able to thrive in cyberspace. Our coverage of the Colorado’s debut garnered hundreds of comments, and Phillip Thomas’ excellent analysis piece was our most popular article for a number of days (on the strength of this piece, Phillip will be back with more truck segment pieces).
While it’s easy for us to get excited about the Colorado, the numbers indicate a different story. The mid-size truck market has been in consistent decline, and the Colorado has an even tougher job than it did last time around if it wants to kickstart the segment all over again.
To hell with saving gas: As TTAC’s sales analyst Tim Cain wrote a week ago, big trucks are back with a vengeance. It’s not just that sales are up by double digits. Transaction prices are up big.
“In many ways, this may be an even better time than before the recession,” writes Automotive News [sub]. “Although volumes remain well below the previous peaks, average transaction prices for full-sized pickups have increased at more than double the average rate for the industry since 2005.” (Read More…)
U.S. gasoline prices averaged $3.47 a gallon last week on weak demand, says Reuters. At the same time, record low mortgages instill life in the real estate market and rev up housing starts. All of this makes auto companies bet on a pick-up of pick-up sales. (Read More…)
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.
Today’s announcement of a memorandum of understanding between Ford and Toyota, uniting the two firms’ pickup truck hybrid drivetrain efforts, took quite a few industry-watchers by surprise this morning. As the industry leader in hybrid technology, Toyota has limited past hybrid cooperation to licensing its drivetrain wholesale to Nissan and a patent-sharing agreement with Ford. Moreover, the last big alliance aimed at developing hybrid technology for full-sized pickups, the Two-Mode V8 hybrids developed jointly by GM, Chrysler, Mercedes and BMW, have been a huge flop on the market, with the German partners walking away from the technology after using it in only a single application each (X5/X6, and ML Hybrid). Though Toyota and Ford have worked together to prevent a messy patent war over hybrid technology, there was little to suggest that they would take the cooperation any further, let alone join forces to hybridize full-size pickups. But if you’re looking to the marketplace to explain the Ford-Toyota tie-up, you’re looking in the wrong place: this is all about the freshly-announced CAFE standard and its generous credit system.
[UPDATE: GM responds to this piece here]
With environmentalist groups on the warpath over forthcoming 2017-2025 CAFE standards, trucks sitting on lots, and the Flint HD Pickup plant idled for much of the month, this is probably not exactly the moment GM might have chosen to put $328m into tooling for new full-sized pickups to be built at Flint. But time and the market wait for no company, and because the Silverado is GM’s single best-selling product, the investment isn’t tough to justify:
“Truck sales play an important role in the success of General Motors,” said Joe Ashton, UAW-GM Vice President. “We are confident that the next-generation of trucks will continue to be an important source of revenue for the company and jobs for our members
In case there’s any confusion though, GM is making perfectly sure nobody thinks they’re making any product choices because of union demands. At the investment announcement ceremony at Flint, Cathy Clegg, GM vice president of labor relations told Reuters [via Automotive News [sub]]
We certainly aren’t going to make a decision and make a commitment solely as a way of getting an agreement. If the market doesn’t drive it, we can’t do that
So, how is that truck market?