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NAIAS Future of Compact Trucks – Less Truck, More El Camino?

At the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the show floor of the first day of the media preview had ZERO compact trucks. Is this how automakers see them or is there still a future for compact trucks?

Future of Compact Trucks - NAIAS

Is this the future of compact trucks, more car less truck? Photo rendering from

The writing has been on the wall for automakers hoping to take their full-size truck and shrinking it into a compact. This model simply hasn’t worked as is evident in the death of the Ford Ranger, Dodge Dakota and Suzuki Equator. In fact, the really popular compact trucks (Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier) don’t really match their larger versions. In fact, one could argue that the reason they are still around is that they outsell larger versions.

In 2012, the Tacoma sold 141,365 pickups and the Tundra sold 101,621 trucks. For Nissan, the Frontier sold 55,435 pickups and the Titan sold 21,576 trucks. The exception to this rule is the GM twins whose big brothers outsold them handily.

What does this mean for future compact trucks? Who knows really. One possibility though is that manufactures might build a “car-like” compact truck. Before you quickly discount the idea, it makes sense. The truck market is consumed with building more MPG efficient, powerful and more comfortable riding pickups. An El Camino type vehicle would have a lot of this due to its unique design. Australians get this with many of their Ute pickups.

NAIAS Future of Compact Trucks - Holden Ute

It is strange looking, but could this be the future?

It might look weird, but it might fit a niche of the market that isn’t interested in off-roading, but still wants a truck.

What do you think Toyota needs to do? Offer a Toyota Tacoma and a car-like truck?

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