Should the Japanese get out of the full-size pickup truck business?
By John LeBlanc for MSN Autos Canada
Let’s open up this discussion with some facts. The top three, full-size pickup truck sellers in Canada last year were the same trio that have been at the top since, well, forever: Detroit’s Ford, General Motors’ Chevrolet and GMC brands and Fiat’s Ram (nee Dodge). In total, they sold 254,268 full-size pickups, with the Ford F-Series leading the way with over 100,000 sold — a record. When you compare those domestic brand truck sales numbers with the respective sales numbers for the Toyota Tundra (7,241) and Nissan Titan (3,499), you have to wonder why the pair of Japanese brands continue to take it on the chin from the always-dominant Detroit Three. And based on recent news, it seems like both Toyota and Nissan aren’t giving up.
This week, at the annual Chicago auto show, Toyota took yet another crack at the full-size truck segment with the debut of its redesigned Tundra family for 2014 — the first major upgrade to the Tundra since the current-generation's 2007 introduction. Using carryover mechanicals, the majority of the changes are cosmetic, highlighted by a bigger, chrome-ier grille, a more upscale interior and new options like blind spot monitoring. Also this week, reports say Nissan is planning a redesign of its slow-selling Titan, due in 2014 as a 2015 model. Like the Toyota, this will be a long overdue redo, as the current Titan is essentially the same vehicle that’s been struggling to find customers since its debut in 2003. Speculation sees a new V6 engine and a regular cab, on top of the existing four-door crew-cab and king-cab V8 Titans, added to the lineup.
That’s all very well and good. But it’s not like the Detroit Three truckmakers are sitting around on their work gloves. The already well-regarded Ram 1500 got a thorough redesign just last fall for the 2013 model year. GM is in the midst of preparing for the rollout of its all-new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks, starting this spring. While the perennial top dog, Ford, signaled its future intentions with its Atlas concept truck at this year’s Detroit auto show, a precursor to a redesigned 2015 F-Series.
So as much as the Japanese get marks for hanging in there, it may be time to wave the white flag when it comes to the full-size truck segment. A case of knowing when to fold 'em...
What do you think? Should the Japanese give up? Or should they continue to play David to the domestic truck brand’s Goliaths?