On Independence Day: In Defense of the American Truck
Ever since the first official Volkswagen sales arm in the U.S. opened its doors in 1955, many Americans have elected to buy foreign. Indeed, it could be argued that since the Malaise Era of American automobiles, imported vehicles have represented better options for many car-buyers. I think it’s safe to say that era is past. American vehicles today are finer than they have been in years, offering the kind of safety, power, efficiency, and comfort that a 1976 Ford LTD couldn’t even dream of.
However, while American cars have taken some time to bounce back into the graces of the auto-buying public, American trucks never had to leave their perch at the top.
Take a look at the sales numbers of passenger vehicles today and you’ll find one name noticeably at the top: Ford F-150. America’s bestselling vehicle moves at least 50,000 units most months, eclipsing the numbers of SUVs and cars by a wide margin. We’ve talked about this subject a lot at the Truck Trend Network offices, and while many imported trucks are interesting, useful, and desirable, if you have a lot of heavy work to do, you almost have to buy American.
The best part of the active American truck market is the competition it breeds. In just a few years, the most powerful trucks and SUVs went from barely breaking 300 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque to creating almost double that. 500hp Ford Raptor? It’s a real possibility. 900 lb-ft from a consumer-grade diesel pickup? It’s now reality. Max towing in excess of 15 tons? You’ve got not one, but two options. Numbers that once seemed to belong to the medium- and heavy-duty crowd are now available to anyone with a driver’s license.
Current economic conditions suggest that the United States’ “chicken tax” may soon go the way of the dodo, and if that’s the case, we expect that competition to get even fiercer. If that first American import Volkswagen brings its Amarok pickup to our shores, you can bet it’ll ignite a light-duty-diesel brawl with the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon Duramax. And with Mercedes potentially bringing a new midsize truck to market, you can bet that the top-dollar Ford F-150 Platinum and GMC Sierra Denali will have some competition in the lux-truck game.
No matter. Americans have chosen domestic pickups over their imported brethren since, well, forever, and we expect truck manufacturers to rise to the challenge that new foes will throw down. And since we’re seeing an unprecedented amount of innovation (aluminum and high-strength steel construction, light-duty diesel powertrains, and 30-plus mpg efficiency), even without much foreign competition, there’s no reason to suspect the Big Three would ever pause to let the others catch up.
From all of us at the Truck Trend Network, happy Independence Day. This is a great nation and we can’t wait to see what trucks it produces next.