These days, for the sheer number of different nameplates on the market, it appears that actual choices in the types of vehicles available is becoming increasingly limited. One segment that’s probably hardest hit are small pickups. Compared to their heyday in the 1980s, when more than 1 million compact trucks were sold; just 87,985 compact and mid-size pickups were through April this year (according to J.D. Power and Associates), though many cite the poor choice of vehicles as a major contributing factor to the sales decline in the segment over the last few years.
At present, the best selling vehicles in the small truck category are the Ford Ranger and mid-size Toyota Tacoma, but when the Ranger goes away next year (Ford says it won’t offer a replacement), there will be precious few choices for small trucks. (GM has also announced that the slow selling mid-sized Canyon and Colorado will be phased out, likely in 2012). But to give the General credit, rumors suggest that it is seriously considering a return to true compact trucks, like the old Chevy S10 and GMC S15/Sonoma (a version of which is still built in Brazil for other world markets).
For some, the current Tacoma is too big and too pricey and with the Ranger gone, no cheap, small trucks will be available. For General Motors, this could present a huge opportunity to offer something like a new generation S10, touting the virtues of affordable running costs and fuel economy, which for many vehicle shoppers still represent very important considerations, even though precious few models offer both today. And GM isn’t the only one. There are also rumors that Chrysler is looking at a small pickup truck to replace the Dakota and Toyota’s Scion brand is even considering a small pickup – interesting since compact Toyota trucks of the late 1970s through the early 1990s, were and still are popular with younger buyers and enthusiasts.
If we do see a return to compact pickups, given the proposed CAFE fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, there’s every indication they could become some of the hottest selling vehicles in the coming decade, much like they were a quarter of a century ago.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]