GM is Working on a New Small Pickup

By Chris Haak reports that GM is hard at work on a new small pickup – smaller, more efficient, and less-expensive than the unloved and slow-selling Colorado and Canyon – that will return the company’s small-truck offering close to its S-10 roots.

As we reported a few weeks ago, Mahinda’s forthcoming India-built compact pickup will also push the reset button as it pertains to size expectations for small pickups.  Over the years, both full-size and smaller pickups have grown significantly in size, cost, and capability.  Full-size pickups today (particularly the HD/Super Duty variety) are nearasdammit medium-duty trucks and considerably larger than their ancestors from the 50s and 60s.  Though full-size pickup sales figures have dropped considerably from their peak a few years ago, they still sell in signficant quantities to both commerical buyers and personal-use buyers.

Meanwhile, compact pickups that hit the market in the early 1970s evolved into – for the most part – midsize pickups, following the trend set by the Dodge Dakota in the late 1980s.  Dodge, Toyota, Chevrolet, and Nissan now all sell midsize and full-size pickups, but not compact pickups.  It’s almost remarkable today to find oneself in traffic behind an early Toyota or Datsun pickup because their cabs are so small (aside from the fact that many of them are now piles of rust powder, so their very sightings are becoming more rare).  The original Japanese import pickups were 5/8ths scale full-size trucks.  Only Ford continues to sell a true compact pickup in the US – the Ranger, of course – and probably only because it hasn’t been completely revamped since 1993.  The Ranger, however, will end its long production run next year, and no replacement has been announced.

Midsize pickups are now just too close to full-size trucks in price and capability to justify paying nearly as much money for the smaller truck as for the larger truck.  Fuel economy for some midsizers is worse than for other full-sizers.  Pushing reset on this market might not only increase sales and re-open a long-dormant segment of the market, but also help manufacturers with increasingly-stringent CAFE standards coming over the next several years.

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. If the US import duties on non US made utility vehicles weren’t so ridiculously high then the US would have a plethora of compact utes to pick from…

    …including Toyota Hilux, Mazda BT-50/Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Colorado/Izuzu D-Max, Nissan Navara, Volkswagen Amaroak….etc etc.

    And the Germans could be there with the cab chassis versions of the M-B Vito + Sprinter, VW Transporter + Crafter, Iveco Daily…..and the list goes on there too.

    Protectionism has its downsides.

  2. I drive a 1991 Nissan pickup and have considered buying something newer with amenities such as air conditioning and automatic transmission. Unfortunately the Canadian market hasn’t had a pickup that is better suited to my needs. Since this truck has a sound body and engine, I may have to drive it for another 19 years.

    Manufacturers- what I’d like to see you produce is a true compact pickup with a continuously variable transmission to increase fuel efficiency.

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