There was a time when vans came in a variety of shapes and sizes, from Chevrolet El Caminos muscle trucks to small Volkswagen vans and even “forward cab” flatbed trucks. Over time, however, they have taken over full-size and slightly smaller trucks of traditional size and shape. Last year, however, some of that old breadth and creativity is returning as more Americans abandon cars for trucks.
About a decade ago, cars, not trucks or SUVs, accounted for more than half of all vehicles sold in the United States, according to Cox Automotive, a company that owns several automotive and automotive websites. car dealer services. Now only 20% of Americans buy traditional passenger cars. Pickups, on the other hand, have gone from less than 14% of the U.S. market to now having the same market share as cars. The remaining 60% of the market is mainly SUVs and some vans.
With more and more Americans buying trucks, companies like Ford, Stellantis, and even Hyundai began looking for still unexplored niches in search of customers who never knew they wanted a truck.
Even for mid-size trucks, such as the Toyota Tacoma and the Ford Ranger, the competition has become tougher. This year, Nissan came out with a redesigned Frontier (finally after more than a decade). It is much more handsome, with a completely new body, a new interior and enough mechanical improvements to make a viable competitor to the well-aged Tacoma, the undisputed king of this category. Not surprisingly, sales of the new Frontier are rising rapidly, according to Cox Automotive.
The trucks became much smaller
Typically, basic model pickups are rear-wheel drive, placing the motorized wheels under the loading platform for the best traction when carrying heavy loads. The $ 20,000 base model of the Maverick, less than half the price of the average new vehicle, is also a hybrid. Hybrid trucks are not new. Ford sells a hybrid version of the F-150, but with the Maverick, Ford turned the hybrid into the default entry version, making hybridization the norm.
But despite all its hidden quirks, the Maverick still looks basically like a pickup truck. It has a square front and a simple grille in the shape of a grid. Its cargo box and cab, the part where people sit, are not completely at right angles as they are in most trucks, but this fact is partly hidden by the black plastic. Ford designers clearly went out of their way to make the Maverick look like a traditional van.
Like the Ford Maverick, it is a front-wheel drive crossover engineering-based SUV. Unlike the Maverick, however, the Santa Cruz looks and feels exactly like that. From the outside, it looks like a crossover, but it’s like someone was going for a giant spoonful of ice cream in the back. Inside, the slightly more expensive Santa Cruz also looks much nicer than the Ford, which has a different work truck atmosphere. The Santa Cruz is also much more refined, even fun, to drive compared to the stiffer, noisier Maverick.
The trucks had electricity
Electric pills used to look like an oxymoron. The trucks were about strength and capacity, while the first electric cars looked like small pods to drive around the city. But electric motors, connected to powerful enough batteries, provide immense traction power. Adding additional electric motors creates a simple and very capable all-wheel drive. In addition, powerful truck batteries can be used to power power tools and even charge other electric vehicles. It turns out that electric motors can be ideal for trucks.
Trucks like the Rivian and the Hummer will not compete with each other. The Rivian R1T can be expensive, with prices starting at almost $ 68,000, but the prices of the first Hummer electric vehicles coming out of the line start at more than $ 100,000. The Rivian, with smooth but all-terrain driving, is designed as a camping gear for outdoor enthusiasts. The Hummer EV is marketed as a performance truck. The Rivian R1T is you can’t lose speed and power, it can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in about three seconds, though it is built more for campers than for runners.
In 2022, the competition for electric trucks will start to be very intense. The Ford F-150 Lightning will go into production. Just days before the new year, General Motors will unveil its new Chevrolet Silverado EV electric truck, which CEO Mary Barra has described as “unmatched”. This truck is expected to go into production in 2023. At that time, the wedge-shaped Tesla Cybertruck could also be in production at a new Tesla factory in Texas.
After this year and next, the world of vans, loaded with tradition and with high expectations of towing, will no longer be the same.
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Last year also saw some competition for Ford in a very different part of the truck market. The Ford F-150 Raptor has been in the high-performance off-road truck market for over a decade. If truck buyers were rational customers looking for just the vehicle that best suited their daily needs, almost no one would buy a Ford Raptor, a truck designed for high-speed desert racing. But Ford sells a lot of Raptors and, presumably, “rational” has little to do with the buying process. Priced at about $ 65,000, it is one of Ford’s most profitable models.
Ford unveiled an updated version of this year’s 450-horsepower extra high and wide truck. The latest version is available with even larger tires (37 inches high) and a high-tech suspension that controls the terrain 500 times per second and automatically softens or hardens.
But that was also the year Ford’s competitor, Stellantis, came out with the TRX Ram, priced $ 10,000 higher than Ford’s. For that money, the TRX offers much more power. Its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 can produce up to 702 horsepower. As buyers pay for luxury car prices, the TRX also has a well-equipped interior. Strong pressure on the accelerator pedal causes noise from the large supercharger along with rapid acceleration. (Aside from its width with bolts and an almost bottomless thirst for fuel, it drives very well on paved roads.)
Ford has promised a more powerful version of the Raptor soon, so this dinosaur fight is not over.
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