2021: The revolutionary year of vans

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There was a time when pickup trucks came in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from muscular Chevrolet El Caminos to cute little Volkswagen pickups and even flat-faced cab forward trucks. Over time, however, full-size and somewhat smaller trucks of traditional size and shape took over. Over the past year or so, however, some of that old breadth and creativity has returned as more Americans move away from cars for trucks.

A decade ago, cars – not trucks or SUVs – made up more than half of all vehicles sold in America, according to data from Cox Automotive, a company that owns various automotive and corporate websites. car dealership services. Today, only about 20% of Americans buy traditional passenger cars. Pick-ups, meanwhile, have grown from less than 14% of the US market to now as much market share as cars. The remaining 60% of the market are mainly SUVs and a few vans.

With more and more Americans buying trucks, companies like Ford, Stellantis, and even Hyundai have started looking for as yet unexplored niches in finding customers who never knew they wanted a truck.

Even for mid-size trucks, like the Toyota Tacoma and the Ford Ranger, the competition has stiffened. This year Nissan released a redesigned Frontier (well after more than a decade). It’s much nicer, with an all-new body, new interior and enough mechanical upgrades to make it a viable competitor to the aging Tacoma, the undisputed king of this class. Not surprisingly, sales of the new Frontier are up sharply, according to Cox Automotive.

Trucks have gotten much smaller

Getting even smaller, Ford released the Maverick. At a glance it looks like a small pickup, but beneath its conservative exterior it breaks all the rules. Sharing much of its engineering with the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport SUVs – though it looks nothing like either – the Ford Maverick can be purchased with all-wheel drive, but the base model is front-wheel drive. It’s almost unheard of for a pickup.

Normally, the base model pickup trucks are rear-wheel drive, placing the drive wheels under the load bed for better traction when hauling heavy loads. The Maverick’s $ 20,000 base model, less than half the price of an average new vehicle, is also a hybrid. Hybrid trucks are nothing new. Ford sells a hybrid version of the F-150 but, with the Maverick, Ford made the hybrid the entry-level version by default, making hybridization the norm.

The Ford Maverick looks like a fairly traditional pickup, but it sure isn't.

But for all of its hidden quirks, the Maverick still looks, basically, like a pickup. It has a square front end and a simple grille-shaped grille. Its dumpster and cab, the part where people sit, don’t meet quite at a right angle like in most trucks, but this fact is partly obscured by black plastic. Ford designers have clearly gone out of their way to make the Maverick look like a traditional pickup.

Hyundai designers, on the other hand, had no problem breaking the design. tradition with the new Santa Cruz. In fact, the executives of the Korean automaker insist that the Hyundai Santa Cruz is not a pickup truck but rather a “sports adventure vehicle”. OK, but it really is a pickup truck.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz takes a radical pickup approach.

Much like the Ford Maverick, it is a pickup truck based on the engineering of front-wheel drive crossover SUVs. Unlike the Maverick, however, the Santa Cruz looks and feels exactly like this. From the outside it looks like a crossover, but it feels like someone has taken a giant ice cream scoop from the back. Inside, the slightly more expensive Santa Cruz is also much prettier than the Ford, which has a distinct work-truck vibe. The Santa Cruz is also much more refined – even fun – to drive compared to the stiffer, noisier Maverick.

Trucks have electricity

2021 also saw the first of an expected wave of electric microphones. Rivian has started shipping their first R1T pickups to customers and they’ve already won MotorTrend’s Truck of the Year award. Just last week, General Motors began production of the GMC Hummer EV pickup.
The Rivian R1T has just entered production but has already won a major award.

Electric pickups once seemed like an oxymoron. Trucks were first and foremost about strength and capacity, while early electric cars seemed like little pods for driving around town. But electric motors, connected to sufficiently powerful batteries, provide immense traction power. The addition of additional electric motors creates a simple, high-performance all-wheel drive. Additionally, powerful truck batteries can be used to run power tools and even charge other electric vehicles. It turns out that electric motors can be ideal for trucks.

Trucks like the Rivian and the Hummer will not compete with each other. The Rivian R1T might be pricey, with prices starting around $ 68,000, but prices for the first Hummer EVs to come out start at over $ 100,000. The smooth-driving but off-road capable Rivian is designed as camping gear for outdoor enthusiasts. The Hummer EV is marketed as a performance truck. The Rivian R1T is no slouch when it comes to speed and power – it can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in about three seconds – but it is designed more for campers than for runners.

In 2022, the competition from electric trucks will start to become very heavy. The Ford F-150 Lightning will go into production. Days after the start of the new year, General Motors will unveil its new Chevrolet Silverado EV electric truck, which CEO Mary Barra has called “unmatched.” This truck is slated to go into production in 2023. At that time, the wedge-shaped Tesla Cybertruck could also be in production at a new Tesla plant in Texas.

The GMC Hummer EV entered production at the end of 2021
Tesla reportedly took over a million $ 100 refundable deposits for its Cybertruck. Ford stopped taking such deposits for the Lightning after collecting 200,000 reservations. Ford also recently announced that it would double its planned factory production for the Lightning given unexpectedly high customer demand.
Many of the potential customers, according to Ford, are not even current pickup truck owners.

After this year and next year, the world of pickup trucks, laden with tradition and towing high expectations, will never be the same again.

The latest piston engine stand

Ford introduced a new Ford Raptor with an updated design and improved suspension.

The past year has also brought some competition to Ford in a very different part of the truck market. The Ford F-150 Raptor has had the high-performance all-terrain pickup truck market on its own for over a decade. If truck buyers were rational customers looking for the vehicle that best suited their daily needs, hardly anyone would buy a Ford Raptor, a truck designed for high-speed racing in the desert. But Ford sells a lot of Raptors and, it must be assumed, “rational” has little to do with the buying process. With prices starting at around $ 65,000, this is one of Ford’s most profitable models.

Ford this year unveiled an updated version of the extra-tall, extra-wide 450 horsepower truck. The latest version is available with even bigger tires – 37 inches tall – and a high-tech suspension that checks the terrain 500 times per second and automatically softens or stiffens.

The Ram TRX outperforms - and costs - the Ford Raptor

But it was also the year that Ford’s competitor, Stellantis, released the Ram TRX, with a starting price $ 10,000 higher than Ford’s. For that money, the TRX offers a lot more power. Its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 can produce up to 702 horsepower. Since buyers pay the price for luxury cars, the TRX also has a nicely appointed interior. A strong pressure on the accelerator pedal causes a whoosh of the large compressor accompanied by acceleration. (Aside from its flared fender width and almost bottomless thirst for fuel, it rides pretty well on paved roads.)

Ford has promised a more powerful version of the Raptor coming soon, so this dinosaur fight isn’t over.

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