As Toyota introduced the Tacoma TRD Pro – what they call the baddest’ of their Tacoma mid-size pickup trucks – at the Chicago Auto Show in early February, they were already racing out to a wide lead in the segment again in 2016 – all with the TRD Pro, the baddest off-roader in their lineup, still to come.
Lead by the Toyota Tacoma, for the first two months of the year, the mid-size pickup truck segment is up almost 10 percent from the same period a year ago – selling just short of 58,000 mid-size pickup trucks so far in 2016. With this surge we expect segment sales to increase by as much as 15 percent over 2015.
Sales in 2016 will be driven by several factors including full-year availability of the new 2016 Tacoma line up and the addition of the 2017 TRD Pro to the Tacoma offering coupled with the GM 2.8L diesel engine equipped Colorado and Canyon now being delivered and the pending arrival of a luxury Canyon Denali plus the second half arrival of a new Honda Ridgeline.
By the Numbers
2016 Year-to-Date Sales U.S. for the segment were 57,698 units – up 9.3 percent over 2015
- Tacoma 26,889 Up 13% from same period 2015
- Frontier 13,197 Up 10% from same period 2015
- Colorado 12,902 Up 4.8% from same period 2015
- Canyon 4,710 Flat from same period 2015
Meeting the Demand
The somewhat unexpected demand coming out of 2015 (over 350,000 trucks sold) continues into 2016 and is stressing several of the manufacturer’s capacity – Toyota for Tacoma and GM for the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon – to build enough trucks for the market. Both Toyota and GM have work-in-process in the first half of 2016 to add capacity to meet the increased demand.
Toyota is adding production (shifts and equipment) at both their San Antonio, Texas and Tijuana, Baja California plants that will add over 14 percent to their total truck availability for 2016.
GM produces Colorado and Canyon at their recently expanded Wentzville, MO plant and, after adding a third shift last year, GM is now actively looking at moving the production of the GMC Savana and Chevrolet Express conventional cargo vans from Wentzville to an outside manufacturer in order to free up another line for their mid-size trucks.
The Nissan Frontier, the other mid-size truck available now, appears to have plenty of production available to meet their surprising surge in sales coming out of last year and continuing into 2016. In spite of having the oldest platform in the segment, their customer loyalty is very strong and, with a first of the year advertising push, sales have accelerated.
Going Forward 2016
In 2016, the new Tacoma TRD Pro will be available by mid-year. Chevrolet has been field testing their Canyon ZR2 Off-roader that they expect to challenge the Tacoma TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro, but no date for availability has been announced. GMC will have their Canyon Denali luxury edition available for sale later in the year.
The Honda Ridgeline, introduced at the Detroit Auto Show in January, is due on lots sometime midyear and will certainly attract Honda Ridgeline loyalists who have been waiting some time for a new truck. The Ridgeline is not ‘exactly’ a mid-size truck – it is a ‘tweener’, sized just above a mid-size but not to a full-size. For purposes of our evaluation, we are looking at it as a mid-size.
Full year availability of the new 2016 Tacoma lineup and the midyear arrival of the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro; a full year of Diesel Colorado and Canyon plus a mid-year Canyon Denali along with the new Honda Ridgeline; will add new sales for the segment in 2016 and take mid-size segment sales to near a half-million for the year by some estimates.
2017 and Beyond
- Nissan Frontier – The new Nissan Frontier is in the works, but is not expected to be available until mid-2017 badged as a 2018. Nissan is currently focused on getting the full line of Titan XD (also a ‘tweener’) and the standard full-size Titan launched into the marketplace in 2016.
- Hyundai Santa Cruz – The Santa Cruz sport truck concept has been approved for production, but no concrete details on final configuration or when it will be available have been revealed.
- Ford Ranger – After denying any interest for some time, they are reportedly taking a serious look now at reintroducing a Ford Ranger to the North American market. Rumors are all over the place as to the configuration of a truck and an arrival date, but 2018 seems to be a good bet.
- Ram – As Dodge, formerly produced the mid-size Dakota that left the segment in 2011. They have now been heard from, as company officials acknowledged this week at the Geneva Auto Show that they need a mid-size truck in their lineup as well. It is likely it will be developed and/or borrowed from a similar truck currently in development by Fiat in Europe.
We will continue to monitor the mid-size truck segment and keep you updated.