America’s ringside interest in the bare-knuckle boxing match that is the pickup truck segment is a massive one, and with more people buying pickups than ever before, now is the time for automakers to roll out some of their latest, greatest, and most customized off-road offerings.
So as Chevrolet continues to push forward with momentum stemming from last year’s massive market share gain in the full-size pickup segment, Ford preps its aluminum-bodied F-150, Ram readies for another one-two punch combo, and both Toyota and Nissan unleash new offerings that swing wildly for the fences.
Studies conducted by Automotive News indicate that Chevy’s Silverado apparently dominated the scorecards in 2015 as “it gained 1.9 percentage points, to 27.5%, while the F series lost 0.8 points, dropping to 35.7%,” largely due to two of the Blue Oval’s assembly plants being down for the count as the F-150 switched over to aluminum. 2015 was also the first time in six years that combined Silverado and Sierra sales topped that of the F-Series, giving more cause for General Motors to keep the hits coming.
GM also recently took both the Silverado and the Sierra back to its corner for some freshening up, two and a half years after the redesigned trucks debuted. In order to guarantee they both move off the lot, Chevy launched a 2016 incentive that pays out up to $1,000 per truck sale to qualifying dealers. Low-blow GM commercials are being widely circulated as well, where real life pickup drivers are asked to choose either a Silverado with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, or an F-150, which is hauling a shabby trailer, complete with a portly secretary and a fax machine.
Ads like this may seem silly to some, but recent quarterly reports from both GM and Ford prove just how serious the pickup boxing match has become. Both companies made over $10 billion in pretax profit last year, as pickup sales and record transaction prices alone proved that truck buyers do indeed want every single feature and add-on imaginable. This also gives a strong reason for automakers to release limited edition customized versions of a truck, because as buyer interest continues to grow in that market, truck manufacturers have to realign their resources in order to accommodate.
According to certain market watchers in the report, some are suspecting that Chevy’s recent success has done little more than poke the bear as F-150 sales rebounded back in the fourth quarter, and according to TrueCar.com, this was done without any major incentives.
“We think we’re going to have a really strong February and [are] looking forward to the spring selling season,” says Ford U.S. sales chief Mark LaNeve. “Dealers are very excited about being able to stock a lot of the cab types that they haven’t really had for a year.”
Financial group analyst Matthew Stover estimates that Ford upped its pickup capacity 7-10% when it overhauled its plants for the aluminum chassis, and by moving to a more flexible shift schedule for the addition of the Super Duty chassis to the production line at its Avon Lake, Ohio, plant. Automotive News says that the analyst believes the full-size pickup market is “primed for more-intense incentive activity in coming months, with Ford production at full throttle and with FCA’s proclamation last month that it’s doubling down on truck sales to drive growth.”
Speaking of FCA, the company’s Ram brand has apparently been preparing for the next bout with a myriad of financing and leasing options. Some of these include $2,500 cash back with 0% interest for five years, or 84-month financing at 2.9%, both of which vary by region with some rebate offers topping as much as $5,000 for specific pickups. Incentives in increments of $1,000 for trucks with more fuel-efficient V6 engines have also surfaced, and with Ram’s EcoDiesel powerplant offering gratuitous amounts of torque in a far more efficient package, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this brand land some heavy blows this year as well.
Meanwhile, Nissan and Toyota both have been busy upping their truck game, with Nissan winning the Truck of Texas award last year for its new Cummins diesel-powered Titan and Toyota launching a redesigned Tacoma that is easily the best version to date. Then there is Honda, which has resurrected the Ridgeline and has been avidly marketing it in hopes of jumping back into the fray with some fresh hype behind it.
Automakers are also teasing and releasing limited run, custom versions of various 4×4 models in the hopes of scoring a few extra jabs in the ring. While Toyota has been busy winning us over with extreme TRD-PRO variants, GMC has announced the release of a hardcore Sierra called the All Terrain X. Ford has its redesigned, twin-turbo Raptor slated for release later in the year, and the 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel mud-lover just won Four Wheeler Magazine’s Pickup Truck of the Year award. But who will be the heavyweight pickup champion when the scorecards are tallied up after the 12th round ends next December? Place your bets, because it’s not even the third round yet and some heavy blows have already been landed!