Truck Wars, Toyota vs. the Big Three – Who Wins?
In the coming year, the full-size truck market will change with several new introductions and updates in the ongoing war for the award of best truck in North America. While critics and diehards will point to sales and others to awards, what really does each manufacture need to do to win?
Before we begin, it is important to point out that we are entering the season of auto shows and several new model unveilings. These new trucks will spell out the next several years for many manufactures. It is truly an important time in the full-size truck market.
In order to really talk about that full-size market let’s look at the latest sales numbers and then breakdown what each manufacture needs to do to increase their sales.
Most everyone is playing catch up to Ford. With its fleet sales and large customer base, Ford will be tough to catch, yet catching Ford isn’t everyone’s goal.
Many critics love to point out the Toyota Tundra’s faults like rust issues and a slew of recalls. And for the most part, they are right. The Tundra has had some issues with those items. However, it looks like future models will not. Without the quality issues plaguing it, the Toyota Tundra is primed to reach its true sales potential. Over the past year, the Tundra has posted double-digit percent sales gains over last year. While most of these gains can be tracked to the previous years shortage of trucks thanks to natural disasters that affected Japan, the real question is can the Tundra sustain double-digit sales growth without a diesel and/or 3/4 or 1-ton pickup? Supporters say yes that it is the best truck on the market. Domestic fan boys sneer.
Will win if … the Tundra maintains double-digit sales and steals truck sales from the other competitors. Without a fleet truck or diesel/gas powered 3/4- or 1-ton pickup, many truck buyers are forced to buy another brand. However, if more consumers see the Tundra as the better “all-day, every-day” truck, it will have done its job of being a quality full-size Toyota truck option. This creates a brand legacy with young families buying their first Toyota passenger car to future purchases of mini-vans and full-size trucks.
The sales leader in full-size trucks, Ford doesn’t really need to do much to keep it going. Or does it? Ever since the end of production of the Ranger, Ford has been losing truck market share to Toyota. And if the new Toyota Tundra and/or GMC/Chevy truck sells well, it is reasonable to assume that Ford will lose more customers. It is true that Ford hasn’t been able to compete with Toyota in passenger car sales for years and really truck sales are its big profit engine. Ford is banking on the EcoBoost engine and a lighter weight truck/higher fuel economy model to keep its sales going.
Will win if …GMC/Chevy put out a lame product and the new Toyota Tundra isn’t appealing enough to fed up domestic truck buyers. Ford has such a big lead in full-size truck sales and fleet sales that something catastrophic would have to happen for that lead to go away completely. However, it could be chiseled away bit by bit.
For the first time in what seems like forever both the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado are getting a face lift. This badly needed update is for the government backed manufacture is a big deal since it has seen dwindling market share. This is also the first truck introduction post-bailout and lots of stakeholders are cautiously holding their breath.
Also, changing is the introduction of the High Country luxury package. Frankly, GMC has been way, way behind the eight-ball in releasing the ridiculously profitable luxury editions of their trucks.
Will win if … the new truck introduction event which live streams on Dec. 13 gets truck buyers on the edge of their seats. GMC really needs a big profitable truck to revamp interest and pay off U.S. taxpayers. Could this be the ticket?
For years, the Dodge Ram has competed and frankly lost in the full-size truck market. However, that has been changing. The marketing around the Hemi engine and the revamping of the interior has been instrumental in the Ram truck. Many people consider the Laramie Longhorn as most luxurious Ram truck yet. These factors point to Chrysler/Fiat turning the truck and the company around.
Will win if … if the Ram truck can finally overcome the multitude of poor safety ratings it endures. The truth is that Chrysler/Fiat could probably sell more trucks if the pickup wasn’t consistently given a “poor” rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Consumer Reports, NHTSA crash safety ratings and JD Power’s Initial Quality Study. Those ratings do matter to consumers who want a “family” pickup truck. Chrysler/Fiat needs to get with the program.
The Other Truck
A full-size truck list won’t be complete without mentioning the Honda Ridgeline. The reality though is that it has become an after-thought. Did you know they still built it? Probably not.
Will win if …truck buyers remember it exists.
Who will really be the big winner? It really remains to be seen, although, one fact is constant. Unless manufactures can figure out a way to get better gas mileage, full-size truck sales could go into a long sales slump.
Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com