Texas Truck War
POSTED: Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 5:35pm
UPDATED: Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 5:37pm
The pickup truck may be the ultimate practical machine.
The reason is obvious. If you have something big, bulky or heavy to haul…this is the way to do it.
This 1948 Chevrolet is an example of what every pickup owner loves.
It’s a cargo bed out back, and the driver up front. It’s plain, simple, and it works.
Of course, some things have changed.
“And you can use it on a ranch,” says Chevrolet’s Lloyd Bierman. “You can use it on your farm. You can use it to go off-road. And as you said, wash it up and you’re going to church on Sunday.”
It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, Texans love trucks.
“Even if there’s no practical purpose to own a pickup,” says auto writer Tim Spell, “I think that every Texas male wakes up sometime in the middle of the night and says, ‘I’ve got to have a truck.’”
And if you are a company that makes them, Texas is the market that matters most.
Oh, they love their trucks in Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and lots of other places…even New Hampshire.
“Like I always used to joke, this is my hometown,” former Ram Truck President Fred Diaz told us. “I’m from Texas and I’m a proud Texan, and this is the biggest truck market in the universe, I always say. And it’s true. 1 out of every 5 trucks sold in the entire United States is sold right here in Texas.”
But for the Big 3 and their import competitors, Texas makes up fully one-fifth of all their truck sales.
In fact, every year, the Texas Auto Writers hold a Truck rodeo near San Antonio to choose the best of the best.
This year, it was the new Ram, and the year before, the mighty Ford F150.
But next year, it could well be this beast…the new Chevy Silverado.
So, for this part of our story, we traveling to the launch of the new Chevy Silverado. We’re travelling there in a new Ram pickup. I’ll be lucky if they let me park it.
We were invited to the official Texas launch, again near San Antonio, and saw the concern on the faces of big time, high-priced auto execs that this new truck scores well with the motoring press.
Whenever anyone does this kind of launch in Texas, they pull out all the stops.
And we all tried our hand at towing…
And the former head of the Ram brand, Fred Diaz was also eager to tout his wares at the Texas Auto Writers annual Texas Truck Rodeo.
“A lot of technology that we put into this truck to make sure we give out customers great capability, as well as best in class MPG,” he said.
So good was Fred at his job, like this presentation at the State Fair of Texas, that Ram is now rivaling Ford and Chevy in sales, and he was hired away by Nissan a month ago.
Why not, the Titan could use some good PR.
Ford has won the Truck Line of Texas award so many times, it probably ought to be retired.
“What we have here is the 2013 F150,” Ford’s Brian Bell explained. “This is an FX4 with our appearance package on it. What you see is a special stripe on the side. It’s got a flat black 20-inch wheel. This one has our all-new HID headlamps in front, twice as bright as the normal halogen lamps. Our new 2013 grill.”
“And frankly, if I were talking with a Ford rep or a Dodge rep, they’d be telling me the same thing,” we said to Bierman of Chevy.
“Clearly Texas is the right place to be,” he replied. “As we talked about before, 20% of pickups sold. We’re putting 50% of the output of that plant into Texas to start the campaign. So, Texas is incredibly important to us.”
So what is it about trucks in Texas? Whether you need it or not…whether you haul anything or not, we love them down here.
“It’s very much a macho, image thing,” spell explained. “Even if all you’re going to haul is raindrops, you still want a truck.”
And for the first time in awhile, all the big 3 have new versions of their trucks at roughly the same time.
“Right, you’ve got Ram coming out with a new one,” said Bierman, “Ford potentially coming out next year. Toyota says they’re coming out with a new one this fall or maybe spring of next year. So you’re right, there’s a lot of manufacturers coming out with new product.”
And in Texas, that may be more important than anywhere else.