Low incentives, new products and construction sites filled with aging pickups have set the stage for an especially competitive — and lucrative — battle in the one segment the Detroit 3 still dominate: big pickups.
According to an Automotive News report, that’s why the most important new vehicle for General Motors this year is not the Corvette Stingray currently drawing big crowds at the Detroit auto show, but the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado parked nearby.
It’s why Ford Motor Co. made sure to steal some of GM’s auto show thunder by rolling out an unusually early glimpse of the next F-150, more than a year before it goes on sale.
And it’s why Chrysler Group emerged from the show supremely confident after its Ram 1500, re-engineered several months ago, was named North American Truck of the Year.
“It’s a gunfight,” said Fred Diaz, president of the Ram brand. “It’s not a matter of being the newest truck on the market; it’s more a matter of being the best truck on the market.”
The improved trucks, combined with gains in the economy and housing market, are giving the companies’ executives and dealers reason to salivate.
“We’ve got a lot of opportunity with this truck,” said Mark Rowe, general manager of Henna Chevrolet in Austin, Texas, where the Silverado accounts for half of the store’s new-vehicle sales. “It’ll get a lot of people in the showroom. As the overall business climate improves I think people will have the confidence and the motivation to refresh their fleets or buy the family a new vehicle.”
Sales of full-sized pickups this year are expected to outpace overall industry growth for the first time in years, said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst with Kelley Blue Book. He said his conservative forecast is for the segment to increase by about 7%, compared with around 5% for overall car and truck sales.
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So, you thought brawny pickup trucks were dead?
Ford Motor Co., which has been leading the automotive industry’s turnaround of late, will begin a heavy-duty advertising campaign next month for its redesigned 2011 Super Duty pickup truck, according to Automotive News.
Ford’s campaign – which encompasses three national TV spots, national print ads, owner mailings and digital ads – will tout the vehicle’s capability and fuel economy as the best in the heavy-duty truck segment, says Brian Rathsburg, Super Duty marketing manager.
“It’s modeled after the F-150 campaign but dialed up a bit in terms of its ‘Built Ford Tougs,’” Rathsburg says. “We used Denis Leary as the voiceover, and he has that irreverent, tongue-in-cheek tone.”
The actor has been used for the voiceover in F-150 commercials since the redesigned pickup debuted in the fall of 2008.
The Super Duty goes on sale next month. It will offer Ford’s new 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbocharged diesel that makes 390 hp and 735 foot-pounds of torque, according to Ford. That’s a 40-hp and 85-foot-pounds improvement over the 2010 diesel model, which has a 6.4-liter engine supplied by International.
Ford also will offer a 6.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine with 385 hp and 405 foot-pounds of torque – 85 hp and 40 foot-pounds more than the current 5.4-liter V-8 gasoline engine.
Ford is not releasing fuel economy estimates. Rathsburg says the 2011 Super Duty will average 18% better fuel economy on the pickups and up to 25% better on the chassis cabs compared with current models.
The base price of the 2011 Super Duty will be $28,995, including shipping, Rathsburg says. That’s a $600 increase over a similarly equipped 2010 Super Duty, he says. The diesel will be $36,830 with shipping.