By the end of the year, the compact pickup truck segment will be just a tad more than 10 percent the size of the full-size pickup segment. Both Ford and Chrysler have walked away from the compact/midsize pickup truck because of declining sales and the fact they can offer a full-size truck with similar fuel economy at a similar price and make a bigger profit.
According to the Detroit News, much of what happens next in the segment will depend on how the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are received by both car and truck buyers. Much of their success will depend on pricing, but we won't find that out until late in the summer next year. In the meantime, the rest of the potential pickup players will carefully watch. One auto executive has gone on record as saying the magic price is $20,000 and the winning fuel economy number is 30 mpg. We'll see. Here's how things sit right now:
General Motors: Understanding that this is a risk, the company is almost giddy about the potential here with new models likely to follow the introduction of the Colorado and Canyon soon after they go on sale.
Ford: Will not be reevaluating its decision to kill the Ranger and is perfectly comfortable with F-150's ability to compete on price and fuel economy.
Jeep: Would like to get back to making pickup trucks, but needs the right platform, which will have to be quite different from any Ram pickup offered.
Ram: Doesn't see how to make it work but is watching the Colorado and Canyon launches closely. Advances in technology will make it difficult to offer a profitable product.
Toyota: It has the vehicle with a 65 percent market share in the segment; the Tacoma is a perfect combination of what Toyota customers want. Toyota can't see how more attention and competition can hurt.
Wild Cards: The attention this new segment is getting could mean the development of a new product that might make sense for a "non-truck" maker. Subaru and Hyundai could be the favorites here.