Will the pickup truck survive?
High fuel prices and political pressure for higher efficiency ratings have cast a dark shadow on the future of the pickup. Fortunately, it definitely still has a future.
With gas prices on the rise again and government policymakers pushing harder than ever for a 54.5 mpg corporate average fuel-economy (CAFE) standard by 2025, the future of the pickup truck has come into question. Is there any hope for something as thirsty as the pickup? What will one look like in 13 years?
The short answer: You bet there's a future. As long as farmers and construction workers need to carry big stuff around this big country to keep it healthy and evolving, there will be pickup trucks.
What will a pickup look like in a decade or so? That's a harder question to answer. Pickups will always have a bed for cargo and a cab for driver and passengers. Past those givens, it's almost anyone's guess. However, some trends are emerging that give us "seasoned pros" some insight.
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The Big Truck Peak
First you have to look at what is happening now to see where we might be going tomorrow.
Today, the pickup sits atop an apex of power and capacity. For years, the trend was to build ever larger, more powerful trucks, culminating in today's locomotive-like Heavy- or Super-Duty models of the Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram and Ford F-Series. The same can be said of full-size trucks.
When the economy was roaring, these beasts were the macho pinnacle of personal-use transport. Powered by V8 turbodiesel engines with up to 800 lb-ft of torque, these bruisers can carry more than 7,000 pounds or tow well over 20,000 pounds. While capable of mileage figures upward of 25 mpg under good conditions, they still typically return sub-20 mpg averages in the hustle of daily use.
During the same time, compact trucks all but disappeared. Simple economics played the major role in downplaying compact trucks. Given second-hand treatment by automakers because their larger trucks were more profitable, the small pickups weren't updated, and they couldn't compete with full-size pickups in terms of features, capability or even fuel efficiency.
Furthermore, other vehicle types, such as small SUVs, pecked away at the compact pickup's once-powerful status as the rugged individualist's fiscally conservative daily transport. Ultimately, such factors killed Ford's Ranger compact pickup last year and the first-generation Chevrolet Colorado this year, and have left the Dodge Dakota and Nissan Frontier unchanged for years.
Now in the era of fiscal conservatism — that is, making ends meet now matters more than how big your engine is — the big beasts are becoming less attractive.
Big rigs aren't going away, per se. They simply won't be bought in volume anymore by suburbanites looking for a good time. Instead, the weekend hauling jobs will increasingly go to the standard full-size pickups with their ever more powerful and fuel-efficient powertrains.
Ford has led the way in this transition with the unexpectedly popular pairing of its F-150 and the brand-new 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 engine. Blessed with a gutsy 420 lb-ft of torque and an 11,500-pound towing rating, the EcoBoost F-150 can get mid-20s fuel economy in runabout mode. That's a full-size truck that can be lived with daily, yet has the beans to tote or haul the fun stuff to the lake, desert or mountains on weekends.
Chevrolet promised to up the full-size ante with its recent announcement of a next-generation small-block V8 engine with direct fuel injection. Rumor has it the new Chevy V8 will downsize to 5.5 liters and deliver more than 400 horsepower at less cost than Ford's EcoBoost twin-turbo arrangement.
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Yinz are all nuts!
As a friend says: maybe I can see an SUV, but I just don't get a pick-up.
The closest ya'll git to haulin' anything is yo fat-assed Momma.
My family has 2 cars, but still needs a pickup truck. We live in the country and even my Town Car can't carry what we need to take to the dump. The pickup is 1999 Chevy S-10 V6 with 180,000 miles on it and is barely broken in.
You can improve fuel economy by 15% simply by using my patented modification. Ford Motor reviewed it and Jerry York said that "someone dropped the ball on this" and then FIRED the Ford V.P. that rejected it..
Soon, pickup trucks will all be designed in China and they will use my fuel saving design.
Thank you China. Way to create jobs!
What idiots! You think farmer Brown is going to trade his pick up in on a VW for better mileage?
When you go out to feed some hay to your cows in a blizzard, take the Prius!
This is what happens when you let an idiot, who has never been off asphalt, get his hands on a computer.
In the meantime, 99% American People, vote 100% DEMOCRATIC, the lives you save WILL be YOURS & your CHILDREN!!
Stupid attention getting statement? Full sized pickups on the way out? Really now? I seriously doubt any time soon. There are far too many people who saw getting a full size PU or SUV as a way to still have room and to be comfortable inside a vehicle unlike what most normal cars have become.
Many people out here are very tired of being in cramped uncomfortable vehicles with puny bucket seats, especially on long trips and after a hard day. Does it show? Yes. If we pay attention, we see and feel the results every single day.
( Blame it on vehicle manufacturers that don't listen to it's customers? Or, maybe in some cases a government that doesn't listen too well either? Overly idealistic vehicle regulations that don't really work all that well are screwing us all up again in the end?)
I think it just goes back to what citizens have been complaining about for way too many years with US auto manufacturers and an unrealistic government not really seeing or listening to what the public actually wants or needs in it's vehicles.
Possible reasons? Many people who really didn't need or want a full sized pick up truck got into them for various reasons. The roominess and size in lieu of a cramped car or they couldn't afford more than one vehicles overall costs because of poor economic conditions, so they sacrificed the other with a full sized pickup truck. Then, shortly after after that pickup trucks got glitzed out with power everything and cheapened up with thin gauge metal and cheap plastic parts. Maybe, because some people missed the creature comforts of having an automobile instead of a real truck that used to be built for hauling materials instead of for a family show piece?
For years, durable full sized pickup trucks have filled an important utilitarian need of hauling most anything you could fit into the box. Now days, most of it is just fluff that fills the cargo box in the pickup truck going down the street. Most people who really need a full size pickup truck just want a good durable high quality low cost efficient vehicle that actually fits their needs and hauls what materials they need hauled. Most times without all the blasted bells and wimpy whistles that usually don't work all that well anyways. If full size pickup trucks hadn't become such a status symbol or substitutes for the non existent roomy cars and a toy of sorts for some people, many of our problems we have now with fuel wouldn't either exist or be so severe now.
Sort of like forced busing imposed on us by a government that didn't really listen or see? It didn't work and now we have to pay for all their lousy results again? Dumb is as dumb sees and does?