Truck wars: General Motors vs. Toyota

After having left the midsize pickup territory, the US automaker is returning to take on the Japanese.

By Benzinga Apr 18, 2013 3:28PM
Truck drivers Exactostock, SuperStock, SuperStockBy Jim Probasco

General Motors (GM) plans to take on Toyota (TM) in a mano-a-mano truck war, The Detroit News reported Wednesday.

The midsized trucks will do 95% of the workload of a big truck, according to Mark Reuss, GM's president of North American operations.

Reuss emphasized the new trucks are not makeovers of the older Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models, saying, "Don't think of them as Canyon and Colorado replacements, because they're not." Reuss did say that GM is evaluating whether to keep the Colorado and Canyon names.

The two new trucks, which will be a little larger than the Toyota Tacoma, target specific buyers. The Chevrolet version, according to Reuss, will serve as a lifestyle and sport truck, aimed at younger buyers who use trucks to haul recreation equipment and play outdoors. The GMC will go after more functional, work-oriented buyers.

Both will have a list of options to allow buyers to customize their vehicles to their activities. Both will get better fuel economy than larger full-size trucks and neither will share a power train with GM's larger trucks, Reuss said.

With the unveiling of these models, General Motors hopes to reverse a trend away from midsize and small pickups that started when sales slumped after the recession. The primary drivers, according to The Washington Post, were the fact that businesses curtailed spending and, of course, the drop in the housing market.

Ford Motor (F), which stopped selling its Ranger pickup in December 2011, has no plans to offer anything other than its full-size F-150. In fact, no Detroit automakers currently sell a smaller-than-full-size truck.

Jeff Schuster, an LMC Automotive analyst, told the Detroit News that he thinks GM will use the two new trucks, plus the full-size Silverado and Sierra, to combat both Ford and Toyota. "We see this more as a strategy . . . to use these two (smaller) trucks as entry-level trucks and allow the Sierra and Silverado to move upstream," he said. senior analyst Michelle Krebs said pricing would be a key. "Sales of small and midsize trucks have had a roller-coaster history, and whether there's a market there in the future remains to be seen. GM sees one, Ford does not, and Toyota has enjoyed good success with the Tacoma, but will the pie expand?"

Sales of the Tacoma this year are up 22.9%, through March.

After opening Thursday at $29.27, GM stock is down about 1% in afternoon trading.

More from Benzinga

As of this writing Jim Probasco had no position in any of the mentioned securities. 

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Apr 18, 2013 3:43PM

The reason people stopped buying small to mid-sized trucks was due to cost and rebates.  A buyer could purchase a full-size truck with rebates at nearly the same price as a small truck or even less in some cases! 


The increased functionality of a larger truck, and identical mileage ratings from the same V6 engines used in both sizes, steered buyers to the larger trucks.

Apr 18, 2013 5:42PM
I bought the 5cyl version of the Colorado in 2004.
All I can say is CHEAPLY MADE !!!

Apr 18, 2013 5:19PM

In 2012 GM sold 465,000 full sized pickups. Toyota sold 83.000 Tundras. There is no reason to believe the next small trucks from a reborn GM won't outperform and outsell the Tacoma as well.


Here's what CAR AND DRIVER had to say about the Toyota trucks:


TACOMA: "brakes feel weak, expensive, cruddy V-6 fuel economy, weak frame, weak performance, disappointing, jiggly ride and equally jiggly structure".


TUNDRA: "rough ride, quality issues have dinged reputation, interior materials look and feel cheap, jiggly ride".


Get the picture? Add to that Toyota's numerous recalls (and record fines for lying to the NHTSA) and one begins to see just who needs to improve.


Apr 18, 2013 5:36PM

Upper Mid-west Guy,


Who in their right mind buys a full size truck with a v-6 engine? (not many) The increased functionality and reason for buying a full size truck and not a small truck is for the v-8 engine. Another thing, In my estimation people who want to purchase a full size truck already know what their going to get in mileage (not the greatest.) If you want and need a full size truck mileage is not a issue at least not for me. 

Apr 18, 2013 6:50PM

The biggest mistake GM made was to discontinue production of the Chevy S-10 line of trucks.


They had a truck that was worlds apart from everything that came from the Asian countries, Europe, and even Ford and Chrysler...Why they dropped it is a mystery.

Apr 18, 2013 5:42PM

I would love to be able to buy a new mid-size pickup over a full size.  I had two Rangers in the past but outgrew their capabilities. And Ford's Ranger sales went down the crapper because a Ford never made a major body redesign in over 20 years. Ford neglected it.


Give me a mid size that can tow at least 6,000 lbs with a quality interior and I'll seriously concider it.  A V6 diesel would be a good start. 

Apr 18, 2013 4:24PM
I have a 2003 Saturn with 175,000 miles never a problem why would I buy a Toyota or Nissan. Not that Toyota or Nissan are bad cars my problem is that people are brain washed for some reason and believe that Toyota and Nissan are superior cars. Do your research people.
Apr 18, 2013 4:33PM
My last Toyota pu had 355,000 miles and still going strong when I sold it. My new one has 160,000 already it is the 6th in the last 25 yrs .GM would need to improve too much. 
Apr 18, 2013 3:58PM
I hope GM kicks the crap out of Toyota and sends these rice grinders back to Japan !
Apr 18, 2013 6:19PM
  I drive Tacomas to the car sales weekly for car dealers. They are the most uncomfortable road vehicles I've ever driven.   The bottom seat cushion is so close to the floor that you drive with your knees in the air and all your weight on your tail bone. That's ok if you are very short or a small woman.  Not a mans vehicle.  At my local toyota dealer, the garage area has stacks of new truck frames that are there to replace the rusted out frames on late model toyota trucks.  If you put one on a lift they will break into.  I've never seen that at any other make new car dealership.  THERE IS YOUR POOR DESIGN AND POOR QUALITY.  Have faith in your country-buy an American brand.  I don't care if Tacomas are built on the white house lawn, they aren't American.  My Dodge Dakota has 310k on it no rebuilds on trans or engine--same with my 99 caravan with 367k.  Buy American and you will feel better when you celebrate the 4th of july.
Apr 18, 2013 6:57PM
I like how the heading says "the US automaker is returning to take on the Japanese.".  Tacomas are made in Texas.  Wonder who paid Bezinga to write this one.
Apr 18, 2013 6:29PM

99% of people don`t need a truck.Americans want to have the biggest truck, biggest

boat, biggest wife, biggest house.

Apr 18, 2013 4:49PM
GM was DRIVEN out of the mid sized truck business because they cannot match the durability of the Tacoma OR it's off road capability. Let's see if they can get it right this time, I doubt it.
  I have no doubt that it will look nicer than the Tacoma, have more bells and whistles than the Tacoma, but it's durability will be all smoke and mirrors.
Apr 18, 2013 9:55PM

Well I just made a 5400 mile round trip via the Interstates to the left coast and back. Generally on these trips I see dozens of Fords on the side of the road in various states of disrepair. This trip the most noticable due to numbers were the Silvarados, Suburbans, and RAMs. Only saw three Toyota's and two had flat tires and one was a about a 1995 model pickup with a broken transmission or U Joint and about 4 Fords...So Toyota or a Ford which used to have the worst reputation as Found On Rode Dead...

Apr 24, 2013 12:46AM

I test drove a Toyota Tacoma, it was a very nice truck, I carefully compared the build quality to the Chevy colorado. I did not see much difference. I ended up purchasing the colorado, It is now 6 years old and never went back for warranty. Zero defects. I still want to try a Toyota after the Colorado wears out, but it looks like it is going to be awhile. I think GM did a good job on this truck, If they were that bad, they couldn't offer nearly 3 times the powertrain warranty, and for $3000 less money, I don't think it was a bad value. Resale is a non-issue for me, because I drive them until a major component fails. My S-10 now has nearly 350,000 miles on it and has been great. I don't see the difference.


Apr 18, 2013 7:04PM

If they build this truck to haul a small trailer say a two bike trailer and still get decent mileage count me in. Right now  I drive a ford ranger. Comfortable truck but fuel economy is not there. No better than a full size truck. I also agree that a v6 diesel would be a real deal maker, but knowing how GM operates I doubt that will happen. One can hope. Chrysler is the one American company that impresses me the most right now, even if they are foreign owned. They are on the right track.


Apr 18, 2013 7:42PM
Why would you want to buy a midsize Chevy pick-up with a V6??????????  Or you could buy a full size Dodge with 307hp V6 engine and 25mpg.   Chevy small V8 has 310hp with 21mpg......................................
Apr 18, 2013 5:42PM
Now be a good American and give more of your money to Government Motors.
Apr 18, 2013 6:01PM
I don't see why GM even bothers with the mid-size market? their bread n butter has always been the full size market they have dominated for years out selling Ford with the GMC Sierra & Chevrolet Silverado. They have tried this once before building the S-10 pick-up to compete with Ford's Ranger pick-up and it didn't go well! I say GM should just stick to owning the full-size half ton market and keep improving there to stay on top.
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