2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter
DETROIT – Size matters. Just ask America’s largest automaker.
ford, General Motors And Toyota and others are increasingly looking to capitalize on the growing market for midsize pickups: vehicles big enough to fetch premium prices but small enough to protect profit margins.
Small pickups have grown from entry-level work trucks to expensive, powerful and lucrative models that can cost more than $60,000 — on par with luxury vehicles from BMW, Cadillac and others.
“It’s just not for people on a budget, because I think that’s what the segment has been like for a long time,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at auto research firm Edmunds. “Trucks just keep getting better with more amenities, more features and a greater focus on design.”
Midsize pickups are following the example of larger full-size pickups such as the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Toyota Tundra. With the influx of new luxury and off-road models and special features, they became more powerful, bigger and more expensive.
Sales of midsize vehicles have surpassed 600,000 since 2019, as consumer interest shifts from traditional sedans to crossovers, SUVs and, of course, utility vehicles like pickup trucks.
Sales of traditional midsize pickup trucks have more than doubled over the past decade, accounting for 4.4% of U.S. auto sales last year, up from 1.6% in 2013 and the highest percentage since 2005, according to Edmunds. highest level.
S&P Global Mobility expects sales of midsize pickups to continue to grow over the next few years, but will account for 4.6% of the U.S. market in 2026.
The average price of one of those cars is also on the rise: Over the past decade, the average price has jumped 53 percent from about $28,100 to more than $42,000, Edmunds reported. This price increase was 3 percentage points higher than the industry as a whole.
The midsize pickup segment has grown from three models produced a decade ago to now seven gas-powered pickups from Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Nissan and Toyota. Half of the brands have announced redesigned vehicles this year, which is expected to boost interest and competition in the segment.
toyota revealed its fourth-generation Tacoma pickup this week, a week after Ford Redesigned Ranger launched for the US General Motors Redesigned Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups are also arriving at dealerships.
2023 GMC Canyon AT4X Edition 1
“It’s really hotter than ever when it comes to midsize trucks,” Patrick Finnegan, senior manager of trucks and full-size SUVs at GMC, told CNBC. , energy and enthusiasm (and) momentum.”
While Detroit automakers dominate large pickup truck sales, Toyota is the clear leader in midsize pickup truck sales with its Tacoma.
Since Ford and Jeep re-entered the market in 2019, Toyota has captured about 40 percent of the U.S. midsize pickup truck market, according to Edmunds. That’s down from a market share of more than 60 percent a decade ago — though Tacoma sales have soared about 150 percent since then — as rival automakers have released new trucks.
Toyota has no plans to relinquish that position: “(The Tacoma) is the number one selling vehicle in the segment … our intention is to maintain that position,” said Joseph Moses, general manager of trucks and SUVs for Toyota North America.
Behind Toyota is GM. Edmunds reported that the Detroit automaker had about 19 percent of the U.S. midsize pickup market last year, followed by starThe Jeep Gladiator accounted for 12.8 percent and the Nissan Frontier 12.5 percent. Ford Ranger’s market share was 9.4%, down from about 15% last year.
“I don’t think there’s any reason or way that Toyota’s dominance in this segment isn’t valid,” said Stephanie Brinley, S&P’s global chief auto analyst. “It’s been declining since 2017.. …but they’re still well over 200,000 units (per year). No one else comes close.”
The automakers’ sales illustrate their divergent strategies in the midsize pickup segment.
Touting what it calls a “Tacoma for everyone,” Toyota offers several variants of its standard model, including a two-door version of the Tacoma, two different lathe lengths and an all-new high-end off-roader “Hunter” model. It also offers the Tacoma with a manual transmission — a rarity in today’s auto industry.
Meanwhile, its rivals have limited the number of cab and pickup configurations they offer in favor of four-door midsize pickups with a bed option to reduce complexity.
Many mid-size options are often for profit. Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley told investors last month that special variants — such as the new performance Raptor model in Ford’s Ranger lineup — share about 80 percent of parts with regular models but contribute 30 percent higher margins.
The Raptor starts at $56,960. That’s nearly $23,000 more than the entry-level Ranger model.
2024 Ford Ranger Raptor
“The Raptor will be the high end of our Ranger lineup,” said Gretchen Sauer, Ford pickup marketing manager. “This will increase our overall transaction price for Ranger.”
GM sees Chevrolet as the mainstream brand in its midsize pickup segment, while GMC focuses on premium models.
GMC’s Finnegan said the brand hopes to add new customers to the redesigned Canyon. GMC’s off-road AT4 and AT4X models are expected to appeal mostly to the high end of the market, both of which are likely to cost more than $60,000.
“That’s our number one priority in terms of entering the segment and growing our share,” Finnegan said. “I think it’s safe to say that with all the new entries in the segment, we think the segment will will grow.”