Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The case for the compact pickup
As you can see from yesterday's post, there's talk that Suzuki might bring a small pickup to the U.S. market. Although it seems unlikely at this point they might just be onto something.
Let's see: Ford is getting rid of the most fuel efficient pickup on the market. It is also the smallest (or close to it). That means the smallest pickup one can buy on the U.S. market will be the Chevy Colorado, which gets 18/25 for MPGs. (Ranger gets 22/27), and isn’t that small at 192” long.
And let's face it: The Colorado isn't exactly "compact" at the aforementioned 192" long, with a 111.3" wheelbase, and a curb weight of 3,718 (4WD auto).
Remember when companies offered a compact pickup? The 1990 Ford Ranger, for example, weighed nearly 1,000 lbs. less than the current 2.9-liter Colorado, and was 16" shorter. Ford sold a ton of 'em. But, over time, like most vehicles, trucks kept getting larger, and larger, and heavier and heavier, while the fuel economy dropped. I'd argue there isn't a single "compact" pickup on the U.S. market anymore. Yes, some are smaller than others, but compact? Not in my eyes.
And, just like it used to be with small, subcompact cars, if there is nothing to choose from, then of course there's not going to be high sales. Remember 5-7 years ago when people said, "There's no market for subcompacts in the U.S."? Now look at the vast choices!
The current Ranger lineup, death being imminent, is still selling OK, especially considering it's about 2.5 billion years old in automotive design life. Ford sold 6,488 Rangers in July, ’11. That’s more than the:
-All of the Lincoln models (nearly combined)
If Suzuki can come with a competitively priced, fuel efficient pickup that is smaller than the Colorado/GMC Canyon (and the current Equator), they might be able to bring in people who don’t need a full-size or mid-sized pickup. This would include people like me. I’d buy one of these in a heartbeat. I don’t haul large loads, pull heavy trailers, or stow tons of gear. But from time to time, I could really use a vehicle with a pickup bed, and I enjoy off roading. I, however, also want a vehicle that gets Ranger-like (or better) fuel economy.