This week is the LA auto show. This is where industry bigwigs get together and unveil new products that will make it into showrooms in the coming months and years. One of the most important new vehicles is the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. Their mid-size pickup that was put on hiatus a couple of years ago is finally back! Anyone who knows me knows 2 things: I love cats and I love pickup trucks (a weird combination, I know). The new Chevy Colorado is possibly the most important North American/North American market vehicle of the past couple of years, this is why:
1) Pickup trucks are the big profit generators for manufacturers. Typically the largest amount of profit found in a segment is the pickup truck segment. This is a good thing for GM since they produce lots of full-size/heavy duty/medium duty trucks but not a compact/midsize pickup. Ford stopped producing the compact Ranger and Dodge cancelled the midsize Dakota a couple of years ago.
2) Pickup trucks are very popular in the United States. How popular? In a list of the top 10 most popular vehicles sold today the Ford F-150 was #1, the Chevy/GM duo was #2 and the Dodge Ram was #7. So the good ol’ USA likes trucks… What about Canada? Ford F series is #1 in the land of maple syrup. The Dodge Ram is right behind it and the Chevy/GM twins are #6. We love our trucks! they are versatile, large, rugged and if your kids won’t stop screaming you can make them sit in the penalty box (pickup bed).
3) Around the time that phones became “smart” the pickup truck saw an onslaught of buyers who wanted to use a pickup truck as a personal vehicle. This is why we we started seeing ultra-premium pickup trucks and crew cab pickups replace bare bones workhorses. Don’t believe me? do a quick search of your local listings and see how many trucks available have leather, heated seats, sunroof, navigation, etc…. This is a new market segment within a segment for truck manufactures. Essentially they can appeal to the everyday work truck buyer, the weekend warrior who will fill the truck bed on the weekend, and the glitzy urban cowboy who will rarely use the space behind the cab.
This is all good news for Chevy and frankly I am shocked that it has taken so much time for one of the big 3 to bring back out a viable pickup option that is not a full-size. Yeah, Toyota and Nissan sells midsize pickup trucks but their offerings have never been as well received as the American choices. They are great vehicles but are expensive and red-blooded Americans (and Canadians) would rather drive more for their money it seems. What is most interesting about this is that traditionally American truck buyers have bought the largest vehicles they could afford. Chevy is hedging a bet that these buyers are willing to trade in the extra cylinders and heft of a full size pickup for a midsize in the name of smaller size, and most importantly better fuel economy. This is a big step for GM. If it is successful you can bet that Both Dodge and Ford will jump back into the market shortly. They are attacking the North American truck buyers psyche. “Yes you can have your American pickup truck, no it does not need to be so big it gets its own postal code”. We already know that the small independent contractor who does not need a massive truck will buy these. The small size and better fuel economy will attract them. Chevy hopes that weekend warriors will be happier with the improved fuel economy and not having the stigma of driving something called a “Larime Longhorn 1500 4X4 Hemi” to the office on Monday morning. They are hoping that the glitzy truck driver has woken up and smelt the gas bills. Chevy is hoping that they to will go for something a little smaller if it means better fuel economy and that it can fit in a parking lot.
Oh and did I mention that the new Colorado is going to be offered with a diesel?! Yep. Wicked fuel economy and towing ability are standard. Not since the Bush Sr. administration have you been able to get a compact or midsize pickup truck in diesel and the offerings were puny at best. This, ladies and gentleman, will be a game changer. Stay tuned for an interesting truck battle between Chevy and whoever else decides to drive into the midsize truck ring.
In closing, are we ready to “downsize” our rigs? are we ready to trade in massive payloads for better fuel economy? Will we choose a more compact size and versatile truck over a massive highway cruiser? Chevy seems to think so, I don’t disagree. I am pre-ordering a 4X4 extended cab in black, I just need to figure out the manliest way to secure my cat carrier into the pickup bed.