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Think Small: The Future of the Compact Pickup

Old 11-16-2011
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Default Think Small: The Future of the Compact Pickup

Half-ton and heavy-duty pickups keep growing larger. Whither the versatile compact pickup truck? They were a popular mode of transportation for many of us in high school, college, and beyond. The compacts were affordable, easy to work on, and had enough room in the bed for gear. Unlike many modern half-tons, compact pickups easily fit in the garage. So how come nothing major has happened in this truck segment in a decade? Why do we hear about all these great trucks around the world that aren't coming here?

First, understand that bringing global-market trucks to the United States isn't as easy as putting them in crates and shipping them. In addition to making the trucks comply with safety and emissions standards here, there is also the issue of the "chicken tax." This was originally imposed in the 1960s on products imported to the U.S. as a response to a tariff on products (including frozen chicken) exported to Europe. While the 25-percent tax has since been lifted on other products, it remains on light trucks. That is why vehicles such as the Ford Transit Connect are shipped to America as passenger vehicles, and reassembled here as light trucks.

With all that in mind, Motor Trend Detroit editor Todd Lassa says, "Compact trucks are dead." I disagree. Not only is there demand for compact trucks; there is a need for them, as fuel-economy standards continue to toughen. We have interviewed people in the know to get the latest news on compact pickups in the United States. Keep in mind that as of press time, the new CAFE rules weren't yet finalized. They could determine the fate of compact pickups.

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Old 11-17-2011
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