Truck Market Gets Crowded

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Auto giants are spending a great sum to introduce new models and eventually grab a larger slice in the auto market. Toyota is preparing to deliver the first full-size Tundra pickups to dealers. Nissan has unveiled the longer and muscular versions of Titans. Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram units are just waiting for them at center stage. However, sitting on the throne is the unbeatable F-Series from Ford.

Indeed, the truck market is getting crowded each year and this poses a serious threat to the F-Series, which is the best-selling truck for more than two decades now.

By delivering the Tundra, Toyota expects an increase in big pickup sales by more than 60 percent in 2007. Toyota predicts it will sell 200,000 new Tundras this year. Next year marks the Tundra's first full year on the market and the automaker expects to sell 220,000 units. These figures are divulged by Toyota's officials at a briefing on their market strategy. Toyota is spending over $100 million just to market and sell the bigger and stronger Tundras. So far, it is the most spending the automaker has entertained.

Detroit automakers, led by Ford and followed by GM's Chevrolet, have successfully defended their posts in the lucrative pickup truck market. They account for 13 percent of America's vehicle sales. Ford Super Duty does not have to pave way for a high performance road car however it has what it takes to be powerful, efficient and admirable. The truck will undergo a redesign for this model year. The 2008 model will introduce a new 6.4 L twin-turbo Power Stroke Diesel V8 with piezo fuel injectors to replace the problematic 6.0 L Power Stroke Diesel V8. The engine is said to produce 350 hp and 650 ft&bulllb of torque.

The Chevrolet Silverado, the second-best selling vehicle in America, is a tougher version of the GMC Sierra, its platform-mate. However, the latter offers more luxury options. The Dodge Ram, on the other hand, has been named the Motor Trend magazine's Truck of the Year twice. Its newest version was designed for commercial upfit with stake, dump, wrecker, platform, service, and other aftermarket beds available, using a standard frame. Its 2007.5 version will feature a slightly different version of the Cummins B6.7 rated at 350 horsepower and 650 amount of torque.

To challenge the Chevrolet Silverado and other trucks in the market, Nissan unveiled the Titan. At first, the latter was never engineered to challenge the Detroit trucks. This is because of the fact that its annual production capacity is only 90,000 units while Ford alone sells 900,000 units in a year. For Nissan, the truck will serve as a good option for those seeking alternatives to the F-150, Silverado/Sierra, Ram and Tundra.

The Nissan Titan was praised for its combination of a roomy interior, strong towing capacity, aggressive styling, and innovative features, such as wide opening rear doors in the King Cab and a lockable storage compartment outside the bed on the driver's side. In addition, the Titan was listed by Edmunds.com as the best full-size truck.

Some auto analysts said Nissan is most likely to bear the brunt of Toyota's aggressive push into trucks, but it is responding with updated versions of the Titan. "We don't want to be the piece of Toyota's pie chart a year from now that shows where all their sales growth came from," said Larry Dominique, vice president for product planning at Nissan North America. Dominique added that he believed Toyota's truck would stimulate demand and boost sales. "We believe it's a wide open, full-size market -- not import against import, or domestic against domestic."

Alex Rosten, a pricing analyst at Edmunds.com, also noted that although Nissan is commonly viewed as being vulnerable, DaimlerChrysler AG's Dodge Ram truck looks exposed to him. "It's the oldest one out there," he said.

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