Bigger isn’t always better, although domestic automakers are pretending not to hear you when it comes to compact pickups. Why?
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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]
We’re perhaps starting to wonder if the Mahindra TR20 and TR40 diesel powered pickups will actually ever make it to U.S. shores. Recently it was reported that the trucks had completed all the necessary testing to meet Federal requirements including those set out by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, according to a statement from Pawan Goenka, Mahindra’s President of Automotive Operations, the U.S. launch has been postponed – from Spring until December 2010.
Initially Mahindra planned to launch the TR Stateside in Spring ’09; then it was pushed back to December ’09. Here were are a year later and seemingly little progress is being made; which must be making things increasingly frustrating for John Perez at Global Vehicles, the authorized importer of Mahindra trucks to the U.S. Perez has already stated that communication between GV USA and the Mahindra mothership has been sporadic at best.
According to Goenka, Mahindra aims to acquire between 5-7 percent of the small truck market in the U.S., but increasingly, even that is looking like a pipe dream. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that small trucks built outside the United States and sold here are subject to a 25 percent tariff (known colloquially as the “chicken tax’). Not surprisingly, Mahindra is keen to seek a partner to locally assemble the 2.2-liter, diesel engined two and four-door trucks. Yet, thanks to yet further delays and mixed signals from India, such a scenario, let along selling the trucks here in sufficient numbers, is looking more and more unlikely.
Indian vehicle manufacturer Mahindra, has reportedly completed testing to ensure it’s compact, diesel powered pickup will meet US Federal emissions requirements. The vehicles will be available in regular and crew-cab configuration, are expected to be priced at around $22,000 and will boast a 1.3 ton payload capacity. But while smog testing might have been completed, according to Mahindra’s stateside distributor, Global Vehicles USA, the company has yet to settle on an official on-sale date.
Being exclusively powered by Mahindra’s own 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder engine, the trucks have to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s, Tier 2 Bin 5 regulations for emissions, which are the toughest in the world and a primary reason why so many automakers have a very hard time selling diesels here. However, now that those requirements are believed to have been met in testing, EPA certification of the Mahindra pickup will likely be granted within 60 days. However, GV USA Chief Executive Officer, John Perez, is apparently frustrated at the lack of information he’s receiving from Mahindra in India. “It’s a battle to get anything from them. It’s not that they don’t have the information, it’s the culture – they don’t like to make announcements.”
And while that might be par for the course in India, if Mahindra is to have a fighting chance in the world’s most competitive vehicle market, it needs a targeted and focused strategy. Simply waiting until the trucks show up on these shores could cost the company a significant number of initial sales as potential customers sit on the fence or look elsewhere. And to make matters worse, without the initial sales and marketing buzz, if the trucks aren’t well received when they finally arrive here, the company will likely face a sizeable uphill battle to win over buyers – one that could potentially jeopardize it’s long term future in the US.
[Source: Automotive News]
These days it seems everything costs more. When it comes to buying a new full-size truck, start being liberal with the options and before you know it, the sticker price is well north of $35,000, before taxes, freight and the rest of it. But compared to some parts of the world, we have it comparatively easy. In Europe, the concept of a full-size pickup is virtually non existent – instead manufacturers peddle what we would call compact or mid-size pickups, but frequently charge what we would consider full-size prices. Nissan sells the Navara (a localized Frontier), Toyota has the Hilux, Mitsubish has the L-series and Volkswagen has, well this:
The Volkswagen Amarok is priced at 26,203 Euros (given current rates of exchange that’s about $35,300), but this also includes the dreaded value added tax (VAT) on goods and services, which in Germany, is 19 percent.
But what kind of specification do you get for that price exactly? Well, a base crew cab truck, powered by a 122-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, coupled with a six-speed manual transmission. At that price it’s also two-wheel drive only. If you want power transmitted to all four wheels, be prepared to spend another $2,500. And if it’s a proper 4×4 system with a transfer case, you want, then you’ll also need to upgraded to the twin-turbo 2.0-liter diesel engine, rated at 163-hp. And that extra 43-hp is expensive – try 30,844 Euros (equivalent to $41,530) by the time you’re done and that still includes a four-cylinder engine.
But here’s the real pincher. The Amarok comes in three trim levels; besides base there’s Trendline and Highline. These add power locks and windows (they’re not even available on the base truck), plus Highline models get 17-inch wheels, chrome exterior mirrors and two-tone paint. But the price of entry for all this? 37,169 Euros (equivalent to $50,050) for the Highline. As compact/midsize trucks go, that’s some serious coin, especially one with a four-cylinder engine.
By comparison, a stateside 2010 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab, in 4×2 V6 form starts at $23,675, before tax, title and registration. And even when you’ve added those you’ll still be well under $30,000.
So,the next time you’re visiting your local dealer and you balk at paying $35,000 for an F-150, Silverado or Tundra, spare a thought for our cousins across the pond. Especially when you consider that the Amarok is built in the New World (Pancheco, Argentina to be exact) and shipped across the Atlantic.