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Midsize pickup trucks become the newest automotive battlefield

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trail Hunter


Detroit — Size matters. Just ask America’s largest automaker.

ford, general motors Toyota and Toyota are among the companies increasingly looking to capitalize on the growing medium-duty pickup truck segment. In other words, a vehicle big enough and expensive, but small enough to still be profitable.

Light pickup trucks have evolved from entry-level work trucks to expensive, high-performing and profitable models priced in excess of $60,000, similar to luxury vehicles such as BMW and Cadillac.

“It’s just not targeting people on a budget because I think that segment has been that way for a long time,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of Insights at automotive research firm Edmunds. “Trucks are getting better with more amenities, more features and more design focus,” she said.

Midsize pickup trucks are trailing large full-size pickup trucks such as the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and Toyota Tundra. A whole slew of new luxury and off-road vehicles and special features have arrived, making them smarter, bigger and more expensive.

Midsize vehicle sales have surpassed 600,000 units since 2019, as consumer attention shifted from traditional sedans to crossovers, SUVs and, of course, utility vehicles such as pickup trucks.

Sales of traditional midsize pickup trucks have more than doubled over the past decade and accounted for 4.4% of U.S. car sales last year, Edmunds said. It was the highest level since 2005, up from just 1.6% in 2013.

S&P Global Mobility expects sales of mid-duty pickup trucks to continue to rise over the next few years, but their share of the U.S. market share will peak at 4.6% in 2026.

The average price paid for a vehicle has risen as well, increasing 53% over the past decade from about $28,100 to more than $42,000, Edmunds reports. Its price appreciation is 3 percentage points stronger than the industry as a whole.

intensifying competition

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X Edition 1


“It’s tougher than ever when it comes to medium-duty trucks,” Patrick Finnegan, senior manager of GMC’s trucks and full-size SUVs, told CNBC. “There’s a lot more effort, more energy, more enthusiasm.” [and] The segment is gaining momentum like never before. “

While Detroit automakers dominate sales of heavy-duty pickup trucks, Toyota is the clear leader in medium-duty pickup sales in Tacoma.

Since Ford and Jeep re-entered the market in 2019, Toyota has held about 40% of the U.S. mid-size pickup truck market, according to Edmunds. Rival automakers have launched new trucks, and Tacoma’s sales have since grown about 150%, down from more than 60% market share a decade ago.

Toyota has no intention of relinquishing this position. “[Tacoma] Joseph Moses, general manager, Toyota North America Trucks and SUVs, said:

GM is the successor to Toyota. Edmunds said it was the second-largest Detroit automaker in the U.S. mid-size pickup segment last year, with about 19% of its market share. StellantisThe Jeep Gladiator had 12.8% and the Nissan Frontier had 12.5%. Ford’s Ranger had 9.4%, down from about 15% market share a year earlier.

“I don’t see why or how Toyota can’t maintain its dominance in this space,” said Stephanie Brinley, chief auto analyst at S&P Global. “It has been declining since 2017…but it is still well over 200,000 units.” [annually]. No one else is nearby. “

various strategies

Automaker sales volumes speak to their divergent strategies in the medium-duty pickup truck segment.

Toyota is pushing what it calls a “Tacoma for everyone” and offers several variations of the standard model, including a two-door version of the Tacoma, two different bed lengths and a new high-end off-road model. there is “Trail Hunter” model. We also offer a Tacoma with a manual transmission, which is rare in the automotive industry today.

Competitors, on the other hand, have limited the number of cab and pickup box configurations they offer, moving only to four-door midsize pickups with one-bed options to reduce complexity.

Many medium-sized options tend to be profit-seeking. Ford CEO Jim Farley told investors last month that there is a special variation: New Performance Raptor Model Ford’s Ranger lineup shares about 80% of parts with regular models, but has a 30% higher contribution margin.

Pricing for 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 top of our range range,” said Gretchen Sauer, Ford’s pickup truck marketing manager. “This will increase the overall transaction price of the Ranger.”

GM sees Chevrolet as a mainstream brand in the mid-size pickup segment, while GMC specializes in that area of ​​expertise. on top models.

GMC’s Finnegan said the brand hopes to attract more new customers with the redesigned Canyon. Much of that attention is expected in the high-end market for GMC’s off-road AT4 and AT4X models, both of which he could top $60,000.

“It’s a priority for us in terms of getting into that segment and growing our share,” Finnegan said. “I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that we believe this field will grow with new entrants into the field.” Midsize pickup trucks become the newest automotive battlefield

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