It will be interesting to see how well Chevy Trucks’ shift in campaign strategy will work out. Threatened once again by arch enemy Toyota’s foray into the truck category, Chevy is abandoning its decades-old "Like a rock" theme song sung by Bob Seger to, instead, wrap itself around the American flag with a campaign called, "Our country. Our truck." and a theme song from John Mellencamp.
According to auto industry analysts, Chevy, Ford and Dodge truck owners are indeed very loyal when it comes to their pick-ups. But, Toyota is renowned for its quality and has made unbelievable inroads in terms of North American market share. Although Toyota is a Japanese company, it has integrated itself into the American culture by opening a manufacturing plant right in San Antonio.
In my opinion it will come down to price, passion and quality. GM has been amazingly competitive when it comes to pricing, so who knows? And, Chevy Truck owners are genuinely proud of their trucks and their patriotic feelings according to what I’ve read. But, Toyota is synonymous with quality and routinely finishes at or near the top of the J.D. Power quality rankings.
So, gentlemen (and ladies) start your marketing engines and let the best truck win.
I live in little America and I can tell you right now that the Ford/Chevy argument has gone a bit by the wayside. When Chevy introduced the employee pricing, loyal Ford owners jumped ship. What most Chevy/GMC owners have now done is go the diesel route – more power, torque and better fuel mileage. These guys have to look at the bottom line. One guy just bought a Tundra and sure he gets the rice burner jokes – but everyone like the sleek look. The tides are turning and these manly men are looking to get the best bang for their hard-earned buck.
This one is going to be fun to watch, Steve.
I’ll go on a limb and predict Toyota won’t prevail here, and GM will win this round.
A little history: Toyota’s first full-size pickup, the T100 failed, but they learned from it and came back with a much better Tundra in 2000. Still, that didn’t unseat the Big Three’s sales dominance; they put out equally competitive products and Toyota’s still a distant fourth in large pickups, fighting with Nissan for scraps.
Could the 3rd time be the charm for Toyota?
I doubt it. A number of things have changed in the truck segment. Most obviously is that there are fewer buyers because of high gas prices. There’s a much smaller piece of the pie than when Toyota decided to upsize the Tundra. The prediction of 200,000 in sales seems wildly over-optimistic. The people who buy pickups will do it more because they actually need them, rather than for making transportation statements. And they will be even more bombarded by choice. That can’t be good for any of the five truck makers.
Toyota isn’t invincible. Their rep for bulletproof reliability has taken several hits lately from serious product recalls and problematic launches of the Avalon, Camry and other models. And their marketing lately shows a tendency towards the kind of smugness the Detroit companies used to specialize in (and the Germans still do).
A butt-kicking by GM might give them some attitude adjustment, and the media won’t mind raising some cheap patriotic fervor in the process.
Then you have to account for THE FACTORY. Toyota built an all-new Tundra plant near San Antonio. Between start-up glitches and production demands, is it possible for each of those trucks to be FLAWLESS in their first year of production?
Nissan had the same set of challenges launching its big truck three years ago, and it’s almost dead in the water sales-wise (they’re down to about 70,000 units) and I doubt they’ll get repeat buyers because of the problems. Toyota’s taking the same risk but at three times the scale.
They’re really playing high-stakes poker.
GM is definitely the underdog, but this is one area they truly excel at. Finally, both Ford and GM (and to a lesser extent Dodge)pickup buyers are brand-loyal in a way that no one ever is to those brands’ cars. Like Mr. T, I pity the fool who shows up with a Tundra at the Texas State Fair.
The consumer definitely comes out the winner in this four-way death match. Prices will be really, really low!