By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business
The abundant American auto barter has been basically one affair for absolutely awhile now: a big — and consistently accepting bigger — gas- or diesel-powered lane-hogging barbarian with a big accessible bed. Trucks like the Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra accept gotten added adequate with added affluence options like acrimonious seats, foldout assignment desks and high-end stereos, but the basal blueprint has captivated steady.
There was a time aback pickups came in a advanced array of shapes and sizes from Chevrolet El Camino beef trucks to beautiful little Volkswagen pickups and alike flat-faced “cab forward” trucks. Over time, though, full-size and somewhat abate midsize trucks of acceptable admeasurement and appearance accept taken over. In the accomplished year, though, some of that old across and adroitness is abiding as added Americans canal cars for trucks.
About a decade ago, cars — acceptation not trucks or SUVs — fabricated up added than bisected of all cartage awash in America, according to abstracts from Cox Automotive, a aggregation that owns assorted automotive websites and auto banker casework firms. Now alone about 20% of Americans buy acceptable commuter cars. Pickups, on the added hand, accept gone from beneath than 14% of the US bazaar to now accepting aloof as abundant bazaar allotment as cars. The actual 60% of the bazaar is mostly SUVs and some vans.
With added and added Americans affairs trucks, companies like Ford, Stellantis and alike Hyundai started attractive for yet adopted niches in the chase for barter who never knew they capital a truck.
Even for mid-size trucks, like the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger, antagonism has been accepting tougher. This year, Nissan came out with a (finally afterwards added than a decade) redesigned Frontier. It’s abundant added handsome, with a absolutely new body, new interior, and abundant automated improvements to accomplish a applicable adversary to the well-aged Tacoma, the acknowledged baron of this category. Not surprisingly, sales of the new Frontier are up briskly, according to Cox Automotive.
Going alike smaller, Ford came out with the Maverick. At a glance it looks like aloof a baby pickup, but beneath its bourgeois exterior, it break all the rules. Sharing abundant of its engineering with the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport SUVs — although it looks annihilation like either one — the Ford Maverick can be purchased with all-wheel-drive but the abject archetypal is front-wheel-drive. That’s about exceptional of for a pickup.
Normally, abject archetypal pickups are rear-wheel-drive, putting the powered auto beneath the burden bed for the best absorption aback accustomed abundant loads. The Maverick’s $20,000 abject model, beneath than bisected the amount of the boilerplate new vehicle, is a amalgam as well. Amalgam trucks are not new. Ford sells a amalgam adaptation of the F-150 but, with the Maverick, Ford fabricated the amalgam the absence entry-level version, authoritative admixture the norm.
But for all its hidden oddities, the Maverick still looks, basically, like a pickup. It has a squared-off advanced end and a simple grid-like grille. Its burden bed and the cab, the allotment area bodies sit, don’t absolutely accommodated at appropriate bend like they do in best trucks, but that actuality is partly hidden by atramentous plastic. Ford designers acutely went out of their way to accomplish the Maverick attending like a acceptable pickup.
Hyundai designers, on the added hand, had no problems breaking architecture attitude with the new Santa Cruz. In fact, the Korean automaker’s admiral assert the Hyundai Santa Cruz is not a auto barter but rather a “sport chance vehicle.” OK, but it’s absolutely a auto truck.
Just like the Ford Maverick, it’s a auto based on front-wheel-drive crossover SUV engineering. Unlike the Maverick, though, the Santa Cruz looks and feels absolutely like that. From the outside, it looks like a crossover, but it’s as if addition took a behemothic ice chrism beat to the aback end. On the inside, the hardly pricier Santa Cruz additionally looks abundant nicer than the Ford, which has a audible work-truck vibe. The Santa Cruz is additionally abundant added aesthetic — alike fun — to drive compared to the stiffer and noisier Maverick.
2021 additionally saw the aboriginal of an accepted beachcomber of electric pickups. Rivian started carrying its aboriginal few R1T pickups to barter and it’s already won MotorTrend’s Barter of the Year award. Aloof aftermost week, General Motors started assembly of the GMC Hummer EV pickup.
Electric pickups already seemed like an oxymoron. Trucks were all about backbone and adequacy while aboriginal electric cars seemed like little pods for active about town. But electric motors, affiliated to abundantly able batteries, appear to accommodate immense affairs power. Adding an added electric motors creates simple and actual able all-wheel-drive. Also, able barter batteries can be acclimated to run ability tools, and alike allegation up added electric vehicles. It turns out electric motors can be ideal for trucks.
Trucks like the Rivian and the Hummer won’t be aggressive with one another. The Rivian R1T ability be expensive, with prices starting at about $68,000, but prices for the aboriginal Hummer EVs advancing off the band alpha at over $100,000. The smooth-driving but off-road able Rivian is advised as camping accessory for alfresco enthusiasts. The Hummer EV is actuality marketed as a achievement truck. The Rivian R1T is no slouch aback it comes to dispatch and ability — it can go from aught to 60 afar an hour in about three abnormal — but it’s congenital added for band than for racers.
In 2022, electric barter antagonism will alpha accepting absolutely heavy. The Ford F-150 Lightning will go into production. A few canicule into the new year, General Motors will bare its new Chevrolet Silverado EV electric truck, which CEO Mary Barra has alleged “unmatched.” That barter is declared to go into assembly in 2023. By that time, the wedge-shaped Tesla Cybertruck ability additionally be in assembly at a new Tesla branch in Texas.
Tesla reportedly has taken over a actor refundable $100 deposits for its Cybertruck. Ford chock-full demography such deposits for the Lightning afterwards accession 200,000 reservations. Ford additionally afresh appear it would bifold its planned branch achievement for the Lightning accustomed accidentally able chump demand.
Many of the abeyant customers, according to Ford, are not alike accepted auto barter owners.
After this year and next, the apple of auto trucks, loaded up with attitude and towing abundant expectations, will never be the same.
This accomplished year additionally brought some antagonism for Ford in a actual altered allotment of the barter market. The Ford F-150 Raptor has had the high-performance off-road auto bazaar all to itself for over a decade. If barter shoppers were rational barter attractive alone for the agent that best apparel their circadian needs, hardly anyone would buy a Ford Raptor, a barter advised for accelerated arid racing. But Ford sells lots of Raptors and, it charge be assumed, “rational” doesn’t accept abundant to do with the acquirement process. With prices starting at at about $65,000, it’s one of Ford’s best assisting models.
Ford appear an adapted adaptation of the extra-tall, extra-wide 450 application barter this year. The latest adaptation is accessible with alike bigger tires — 37 inches alpine — and hi-tech abeyance that checks the area 500 times a abnormal and softens or stiffens automatically.
But this was additionally the year that Ford’s competitor, Stellantis, came out with the Ram TRX, with a starting amount $10,000 college than the Ford’s. For that money, the TRX offers abundant added power. Its 6.2-liter supercharged V8 can aftermath up to 702 horsepower. Accustomed that buyers are advantageous affluence car prices, the TRX additionally has a accurately appointed interior. A adamantine columnist on the gas pedal brings on a buzz from the big supercharger forth with a blitz of acceleration. (Aside from its flare-fendered amplitude and about bottomless appetite for fuel, it drives appealing accurately on paved roads.)
Ford has promised a higher-horsepower adaptation of the Raptor advancing soon, so this anachronistic action is not over.
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