Will Canadians ever buy “small” trucks again?
As my Wheels colleague, Jill McIntosh, has written in her review of the updated-for-2012 Toyota Tacoma, Canadians love trucks—but not unless they are of the full-size nature.
You are probably well aware that the long-reigning best-selling new vehicle in Canada is the Ford F Series. But did you know that including the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra twins, the Ram (nee Dodge) 1500, and the less-popular Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan, 193,694 full-size pickups have been sold though to the end of September this year, here in Canada*.
Now, contrast that number to the not-a-full-size truck segment, of which only 26,723 have been moved in the first nine months of this year. Sales of the abovementioned Tacoma (5,489), Ford Ranger (12,985), Chevy Colorado (2.039), GMC Canyon (1,759), Dodge Dakota (1,331), Nissan Frontier (2,022) and Honda Ridgeline (1,098), are miniscule compared to their big brother numbers. And with the departure for 2012 of the Ranger and Dakota, those numbers will likely drop as well.
Despite these less-than-stellar sales figures, though, there lies some optimism (perhaps driven by future stricter fuel economy regs) in small trucks.
GM is replacing its mid-sizers for 2013 with an all-new Chevy Colorado, already launched in Thailand (above.) While Dodge is (apparently) working on a minivan-based Dakota replacement, similar in concept to the Ridgeline.
Yet, unless the automakers remove the existing incentive money from the hoods of their full-size models, it’s hard to see why buyers would go for the smaller trucks.
For example, a brief look at the Dakota’s spec sheet is all the evidence new truck buyers need to understand why it’s being canned. It can’t carry or tow as much as the full-size Ram, and its cabin is smaller. That’s obvious. But the Ram’s price doesn’t reflect its deficiencies: A base Dakota starts at $29,495—thousands more than a $21,570 Ram 1500.
So despite their continuing existence in showrooms, do you think Canadians will ever cotton to smaller tucks?
Or, eventually, will cheap, full-size pickups simply be the only choice truck buyers will have?
* Source: Automotive News Data Center and Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and company sources