SALES: The Surge of Smaller Pickup Trucks

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Is there no end to the number of mid-size pickup trucks we will buy?

Tacoma 16 trd off road my pic

April was the month that the stars aligned for the pickup trucks formerly known as “compact trucks.”

Call them whatever you want, but the 2016 Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, Nissan Frontier, GMC Canyon, and the revitalized Honda Ridgeline are in one of the hottest vehicle segments in the country.

Tacoma TRD

These medium-duty, sub-full-sized trucks have big market appeal, and every one of them had their best month this past April.

Consider the Tacoma.  It passed 18,000 units in the month for the first time, with 18,106 on the sales charts for Toyota.  Up an astounding 16% on a volume basis over last April, which was also a great month of sales.

It’s surprising, because the factory that makes these trucks was supposedly maxed-out at around 16,000 trucks per month.  Before it launched, the 2016 Tacoma’s design chief said in an interview that he could not grow sales because the Tacoma’s factories were at full capacity.

colorado kayaks

General Motors makes the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins. GM slowed its production down a few months back to make upgrades to its production lines, so that it could wring out more from the same square footage of factory. April was the month it all came together with combined sales of 13,388 units.

Putting these numbers into some GM perspective, the Canyon’s 3,026 units surpassed every Cadillac model this month.  Combined, the GM truck twins outsold the whole of Cadillac and were very likely dramatically more profitable for GM.

The "solid to the core" 2016 Nissan Frontier starts with a full-length, fully boxed ladder frame. Add a choice of two powerful engines - 4.0-liter DOHC V6 engine rated at 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque or a 152-horsepower 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine (King Cab only) - mated to either a 5-speed manual (King Cab), 6-speed manual (Crew Cab) or 5-speed automatic transmission.

Up until last month, the Nissan Frontier was the odd man out in this segment.  That all ended as the Frontier surged ahead by almost 30% to sales of 7,509 units in April.  Not bad for a truck that was last redesigned shortly after the invention of round tires.  The Frontier outsold the Nissan Leaf by roughly 10 to 1 in April.

2017 Honda Ridgeline with Genuine Honda Accessories

Honda‘s new Ridgeline is just about to make its grand entrance.  Honda recorded exactly one unit sold in April.  The timing seems perfect for the Ridgeline to come back to the market.  Honda may seem a little late, but Ford and Ram, two huge players in trucks, are the two brands who have missed the party altogether.  They have no midsize truck for sale and none pending.

First image above by John Goreham.

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