Over my years in the auto industry, one thing has been made abundantly clear: Truck buyers are loyal. Sure, the occasional fluctuation will occur, but for the most part, Ford buyers will buy another Ford when the time comes, and the same with Chevy, GMC, Ram, and Toyota.
Why, then, do the truck makers keep redesigning? Beyond incorporating new technologies for improved performance, safety, and efficiency, there’s always a risk of alienating their base customers when reaching for conquest sales. Chevrolet did that a few years ago with the Silverado, revealing a truck with an interior that was not nearly as nice as the rest of the industry. The good ship Bowtie has been righted with the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado, thankfully, as even on this LT trim the passenger accommodations have been vastly improved.
Detroit’s truck makers love beating each other over the head. Witness the power wars happening at one end of the table, endless innovations in the cargo box at the other, plus the current obsession with off-road one-upmanship. And that’s even before all hands start cranking out electric trucks packing a bazillion horsepower.
The midsize segment is not immune. Chevrolet has introduced the ’23 Colorado, a truck with upgrades suitable for keeping up with (and passing) the Joneses. Oh – and they also pulled a trick taken from the Book of Detroit: Take the engine from a larger machine and stuff it up the nose of a smaller one.
It’s tough to break into an established market where brand loyalty reigns supreme and old habits die hard. Nowhere is that more evident than with full-sized pickup trucks in America, a segment in which the Detroit Three have a stranglehold on sales. Only two other brands of late have dared try to muscle their way into the arena; in the not-too-distant future, there may be only half that number.
There have been numerous examples of local dealers appending various and sundry new pickup trucks with paint or a wrap trying to capture the two-tone color schemes of the ’80s and early/mid-’90s. Thanks to the body lines of modern trucks, the results can be varied.
Ford wants in on the action, choosing to celebrate 75 years of trucks with a Heritage Edition of its popular F-150 which attempts to recreate the look
Today’s topic is an automaker you’ve likely never heard of. It’s a small company that was founded not that long ago, offers vehicles in very limited markets, and produces around 600 vehicles per year. Its product is based upon old ideas from other manufacturers, all done up in fiberglass until very recently. Let’s enter the wonderful world of Wallyscar.
Volkswagen Group is reportedly considering reviving the Scout name for North America. Following the merger of trucking subsidiary Traton and Navistar in 2020, VW found itself in possession of the farm-focused International Harvester. While the brand technically hasn’t existed since 1985, the German company effectively owns its intellectual property — including the Scout name — and is keen to leverage some of its nostalgia for an alleged sub-brand specializing in sport utility vehicles.
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has officially started production at the company’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan and will apparently be getting some company at the Blue Oval City campus in Tennessee. On Tuesday, CEO Jim Farley said that the upcoming plant had been selected to produce a new model during a press event covering the official launch of the all-electric F-Series.
“It’s another truck,” he explained. “This is not our only truck. We said very clearly we want to be the leader in electric pickup trucks.”
It’s been a while since we’ve covered the trucking protests and you might be wondering what happened with the U.S. People’s Convoy that emerged from the still-smoldering ashes of the Canadian Freedom Convoy. Well, it’s been circling Washington, D.C. for the last several weeks in the hope it can draw sufficient attention.
Unlike the Canadian-based convoy, which saw the government deploy armed men to clear demonstrations taking place in front of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, the Americans have remained mobile to avoid getting cornered by authorities. Stationed out of Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland, truckers have established a base of operations where they can service vehicles whenever they’re not on the Beltway protesting. Drone shots from above have indicated that there are usually a few hundred trucks parked at the racetrack each morning, though videos from inside show evening returns including hundreds more supportive passenger vehicles. While journeys into the city do take place, they typically involve a handful of trucks designed to make some noise before quickly retreating to avoid being penned in.
Not to be outdone by corporate siblings Hyundai and Genesis, which have announced plans to launch 17 electric, or at least electrified, vehicles combined by 2030, Kia has claimed it will have 14 EVs (or, again, vehicles that at least have some electrification) by 2027.
Including two pickup trucks.
On Wednesday, American truckers commenced a cross-country drive from California to Washington, D.C., to petition governments (local, state, and especially federal) to end all COVID-19 mandates. Known as The People’s Convoy, the group was inspired by the Canadian Freedom Convoy that was broken up over the weekend and effectively serves to spread its message within the United States.
The goal is to arrive in the capital early in March to pressure the Biden Administration into ending any formal federal emergencies pertaining to the pandemic. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from the District of Columbia government and the U.S. Capitol police for 700 National Guard troops, widespread fencing, and 50 armored vehicles in anticipation.
Ford has announced that the Raptor Ranger will become a global model this week, furnishing the relevant specifications while CEO Jim Farley scheduled its arrival in the United States for 2023.
While that doesn’t give us specific details for the version that’ll be hitting our market next year, nobody is expecting massive changes between regions. Our Raptor Ranger will likely utilize the same twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that’s inside the Bronco Raptor. That’s a lovely 392 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque, with numbers being subject to change to appease local regulators. Though the pickup’s 10-speed automatic and standard four-wheel drive (with a two-speed transfer case and front and rear locking differentials) should persist regardless of whatever the Environmental Protection Agency says it needs.
With the Ambassador Bridge having been cleared by police over the weekend, those protesting government mandates have literally been relegated to the sidelines. Canadian officers from a variety of departments, including Ontario Provincial Police, are now situated at relevant intersections and Windsor, Ontario, has declared a state of emergency in case demonstrators return.
But don’t think the story is over. The trucker blockade certainly caused trouble for the automotive sector and it suddenly seems interested in rolling the event into the industry’s ever-expanding list of excuses. Now that the rigs have all been removed, spokespeople have been chiming in and they’re being presented as rather single-minded on the matter. They want more assistance from the government to quash any protests that might impact their bottom line and are happy to have something else to blame for why the broader industry remains in such a pitiful state.
The Freedom Convoy that originated in Canada last month has gained an incredible amount of momentum, garnering loads of support from citizens around the world. Sympathetic protests seem to be erupting everywhere while the original group of truckers remains planted on the streets of Ottawa to demand an end to government mandates. But honking at Parliament Hill for two weeks was only a portion of the convoy’s grand strategy.
Large groups of truckers have broken off to create blockades at meaningful border crossings, gaining control of North America’s already ailing supply lines. The most recent example resulted in the taking of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, an essential trade crossing for both the United States and Canada. Truckers have held the bridge for five days and automakers have begun announcing shutdowns due to supply issues. Meanwhile, the Canadian government has begun discussing an end to lockdown measures after failing to stop the protests and other nations appear poised to follow in its footsteps.
This week, Stellantis announced the Ram Revolution at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show. Though it was less of an all-electric pickup concept intended to compete on a market that’s about to become saturated with them, and more of a way to engage with consumers on how the truck brand should implement its take on the segment.
To the surprise of everyone working here, Ram’s Revolution turned out to be little more than a market-research campaign designed to ensure the automaker can build an electric truck people actually want to buy. But that doesn’t mean the manufacturer hasn’t already made plans of its own. Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr. has even been sharing some of Stellantis’ electrification strategies, including outfitting some 1500 electric pickups with a range extender.