How to Beat Ford at the Pickup Truck Game
Ford is always the 800 lb elephant in the room when it comes to discussing pickup trucks. Why? Because last year they sold a new F-Series pickup truck every 19 seconds. When you’re have that kind of sales dominance, you have a bulls-eye on your back. But how have they been successful for so long? Because they build what the customer wants, but not necessarily what they need.
Doug Demuro, Jalopnik‘s resident warranty claims expert, talks about the new Honda Ridgeline that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show and why it’s more than enough truck than anyone needs, but still has a strong possibility of failing.
Now, I love all of you guys and gals. Even though you don’t always agree with what I have to say, I love the enthusiasm you all have for Ford trucks at this site. But here’s the thing; he’s right.
Many of you don’t use the capability of the trucks you’ve purchased, and even fewer of the general public do. How many times have you seen a Raptor mall crawling at the local Target looking like it just came out of a car wash? People buy trucks based on what they could do, not what they will do.
The new Ridgeline is capable of towing the toys that midsize truck buyers own. The extra storage (even though the bed storage might not be the most practical) is convenient. Plus, the fuel economy should also be good. It’ll climb most trails that are maintained. You should have no problems going camping in it.
So why will it not be a sales success? Because it’s what people need, but not what they want.
Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum and take a look at the Nissan Titan XD with the Cummins diesel engine. It’s a pretty solid truck. Also, it fits in a perceived void between the half-ton and 3/4-ton truck marketplace.
We don’t know how well it’s going to sell, since it just went on sale, but pricing is something to consider. While we think the truck is priced to be very competitive, there isn’t much of a price difference between the Titan XD and a F-250 with the Power Stroke diesel.
The Titan XD makes 555 lb-ft of torque. The Power Stroke in the F-250? 860 lb-ft. Also, the F-250 can tow several thousand pounds more than the Titan XD.
So even though you might only need to tow 11,000 pounds, you’ll look at the price difference and towing capacity difference and go straight for the Ford F-250. Not because it’s what you need, but rather because it’s what you want.
To upset the Ford dominance, the other truck makers need to start building trucks that people want. Ram has been doing a good job of that lately, and their sales numbers are increasing. General Motors is also growing in popularity. But Ford is still the king. They have the ability to look into the future and see exactly what customers are going to want, then construct their next-generation pickups based on that information.
Until someone can steal that ability from Ford, they’ll continue to dominate.
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