America's Iconic Blue-collar Vehicles to Be Marketed to China's Upper Class

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
america s iconic blue collar vehicles to be marketed to china s upper class

Pickup trucks are about as stereotypically American as firearms, baseball, Coca-Cola, and landing on the moon. However, General Motors and Ford don’t want us hoarding all that goodness and plan on exporting their piece of the American pie to the East. The Big Two want to place large American trucks in the hands of upscale Chinese buyers and establish the eminence of a vehicle China currently sees as little more than a tool for farming or construction.

Coincidentally, that is exactly how our love affair with the truck began.

Trucks are only a sliver of the Chinese market right now, though. IHS Markit forecasts a 14 percent increase in pickup truck sales this year, but that only accounts for 1.4 percent of China’s light vehicle market.

Reuters suggests that this may be because so many trucks are restricted to overnight driving in a number of Chinese cities. As a working vehicle, they are largely impractical for personal use outside of rural areas. However, four less-urbanized provinces have launched a trial program allowing trucks into city zones in an attempt to stimulate production as economic growth and automobile sales stagnate.

Now, Ford and GM just need to solve an image problem. “The Chinese call it pika, pika – a very low-end worker’s [vehicle]. But the [Ford F-150] Raptor is totally different,” Wesley Liu, Ford’s Asia-Pacific sales director, told Reuters.

Considering that Pabst Blue Ribbon has managed to position itself as a popular luxury brand in China, the sales success of premium pickups doesn’t seem entirely out the question. The country’s love of Buick and growing affinity for Cadillac further substantiate its near obsession with all things it deems quintessentially American.

Buick sold 105,071 cars in October and Cadillac saw its sales more than double, posting a 117.6 percent increase from the year before.

Those products sell because they use prestige to differentiate themselves from domestic Chinese vehicles. With the lessened restrictions, U.S. automakers want to similarly distance their trucks from the local offerings while crafting a very specific image.

Reuters writes:

Ford and GM – which displayed its Chevrolet Colorado and Silverado trucks around the Guangzhou show, with t-shirt clad urban cowboys and an all-leather rock band selling the trucks’ macho, all-American appeal – have not yet announced prices for their pick-ups, expected to be launched next year. But they should command a sizeable premium to locally made models as China slaps a 25 percent tax on imports.

In April, Ford announced it would bring a performance version of its F-Series to China. A spokesman said the company was also studying whether to include mass-market model, like the F-150 or Ranger, to China, stating that it would likely come down to demand and future regulations.

“The people who buy the Raptor maybe own some other premium vehicle already. This is another toy,” Liu said.

He believes the Raptor is aimed at four types of buyers: wealthy buyers who want to make a splash, business owners that want something other than a traditional commercial vehicle, drivers who want a single all-purpose car, and enthusiasts who “just like the mechanics.”

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • NMGOM NMGOM on Dec 02, 2016

    "America’s Iconic Blue-collar Vehicles to be Marketed ...." What a silly, archaic stereotype! There hasn't been anything "blue collar" about most pickups sold here in years. That ended in the 1960's. When you have full-luxury, 4-door, 4WD models running $65-$75K, it's hardly "blue collar"! Pickup trucks are the new sedan: the REAL vehicles that we all hungered for, for decades. In an ironic way, they harken back to the late 1930's and late 1940's, when cars were big, tough, and capable. So pickups are now the do-all, be-all, haul-all, tow-all, go-anywhere, top-riding comfort vehicles. They can soak up tar strips and expansion joints, as well as major potholes, ruts, and boulders. And they even corner and handle well, with the introduction of rack-and-pinion steering on many models. And they can cruise happily at more than 85 mph on the highways when needed ( I've had least one pickup truck in residence since 1974, and would never leave home without one! In fact, I can't --- I sold my "inferior" 2006 BMW 325i sedan, after 6 years of pretending I liked that cramped, underpowered, overpriced, over-engineered, unreliable, incapable, poorly riding, piece of ..... So, I certainly can't blame the Chinese for seeing the "Light of Vehicular Salvation" coming upon them from Above....(^_^).... ======================

  • NMGOM NMGOM on Dec 02, 2016

    As an adjunct to my comment above, the Chinese are not the only national culture to begin embracing American pickup trucks. The largest assembly of Ram pickups in the world was recently "performed", --- NOT in Texas --- but in GERMANY at the Nürburgring!! But many were just having fun with the "redneck" thing. Glad to see that some Yurp's are getting real about vehicles....(^_^)... Ref's: 1) 2) =========================

  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!
  • Sgeffe As was stated in another comment, the FAA nominee went down in flames. But the NTSB chairwoman certainly didn’t, and she’s certainly not qualified either!Lots of this kind of stuff going on both sides of the aisle—Ben Carson would have arguably made a better Surgeon General than HUD Secretary under Trump, for example.
  • Art Vandelay Interesting, the Polestar 2 I had as a rental utilized Android Automotive which is what GM said it is going to exclusively, yet it still offers Apple CarPlay according to this. Wonder if GM will do the same.
  • Stuart de Baker EVs just aren't ready for prime time for those with a single car and who take road trips. Being able to charge as soon as you arrive at a charging station, and even the chargers working on your car is a crapshoot. In the former case, you could have to wait for nearly an hour while someone else is charging.I also don't find EVs particularly fun to drive (I've driven a Tesla Model S and an Ionic 5.) I LOVE driving my '08 Civic (stick). I love the handling, the feel and responsiveness of the engine, the precise steering (the Michelin Pilot Ultra Sport tires help, but even with the snows on, the car is a joy). I have 152k on the clock, and hopefully another 25 years or so of driving (I was born early in the Eisenhower Administration and I have exceptionally healthy habits), and I'm going to try to keep the Civic for the duration.My Civic causes a less global warming emissions than some of these humongous battery operated trucks.
  • FreedMike They should throw in a Lordstown pickup with every purchase. Make it the “vapor twofer.”