Truck News: What’s happening in the truck world?

There’s been all sorts of news in the pickup truck world lately. Here’s a digest of some of the things you might have missed.

First up, let’s talk about Ram.

Ram caught up with Chevrolet in pickup sales in March. Ram sold 42,532 trucks while Chevy sold 42,247. This is the first time this has happened since the 1990s (and Ram was part of the Dodge name).

Ram also recently revealed a few updates to its truck lines. For starters, its Pentastar V6 is so popular Ram is making it available on more truck models, including the fancier-trimmed ones.

Here is the new Ram Power Wagon.

You can read all about it here or watch it here:

And Ram is also offering its Ram Black Express trim on HD pickups.

Now, here’s some news about Chevrolet. Like I mentioned above, Ram pulled ahead of them in March, and there are plenty of reports that indicate Chevy’s folks were not too happy about it.

Chevrolet rolled out plenty of incentives in March, and it’s keeping those incentives coming this month. It also rolled out its High Country trim level for HD pickups. Take a look:

But here’s some really good news for Chevrolet: Edmunds.com and Vincentric are saying that when you account for insurance, depreciation, reliability, fuel and all over factors, the Chevy Silverado is actually the cheapest truck to own over a 5-year-period.

Meanwhile, Ford is still selling trucks — what else — by the truckload and getting ready for its updated 2015 F-150 to hit dealer lots. In case you haven’t heard, the new F-150 will have an all-aluminum body.

There have been plenty of stories about all the steps Ford has taken in planning this process out. For example, it’s doing a new recycling plan that’s supposed to save it $125 on each one of these new F-150s.

Ford knows that a lot of customers are skeptical about these new aluminum-bodied F-150s and has been putting a lot of effort into showing how much testing and abuse it’s been throwing at them. Check out this video, for example:

This new F-150 will have a second EcoBoost option: a smaller 2.7L V6. And it’s spending half a billion dollars on a facility to make those engines in Ohio. The truck is also supposed to get some really awesome LED headlights, too.

Ford got some especially good luck recently when TV host Jimmy Fallon chose its F-150 King Ranch pickup on his program after discussing the issue on several episodes. He even had a little competition to decide which Ford salesperson would get to sell him the new truck. The winner was an Illinois dealer.

The current F-150 was also recently named one of the most “Made In America” vehicles you can buy today.

The Blue Oval is also rolling out some new Super Duty trucks soon. Here’s a look at the new F-350 King Ranch.

Finally, here’s a piece of news that will not only affect all trucks, but pretty much all consumer vehicles: Starting May 1, 2014, 100 percent of vehicles with less than 10,000 pounds GVWR will have to have rearview cameras installed at the factory.

Just look at these new trucks!

The automotive media is abuzz thanks to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. While there are some pretty cars being revealed at the show, a big component of the excitement comes from two new pickups that were unveiled in the past 24 hours: the 2015 Ford F-150 and the 2015 GMC Canyon.

Here are what several news outlets are saying about these new vehicles:

Copyright General Motors Corp.

The return of the GMC Canyon

General Motors pulled the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon after the 2012 model year due to disappointing sales. The returning Colorado appeared late last year, and now the GMC Canyon is back too.

Before the unveiling, GMC did a fair amount of teasing on social media, including these shots:

 

Automotive News reports the Canyon has a distinctly different look from the Colorado:

“While the Chevrolet Colorado is sporty and sleek, the Canyon, its corporate sibling, looks a bit like a little brother to the GMC Sierra full-sized pickup. And that’s by design.”

Automotive blog Jalopnik has been advocating for smaller pickups for some time now. It was pleased with the Colorado, and its reaction to the the Canyon has also been warm. Blogger Andrew P. Collins even said this Canyon is a worthy truck for taking on Toyota’s Tacoma:

“Both the Colorado and Canyon are nice little trucks. They feel tiny if you move into one straight out of a Silverado or Suburban, but would more than fulfill the pickup needs of many consumers.”

It’s been interesting to watch the differing strategies of the different truck makers. General Motors is going with the “three-truck strategy,” by making it so customers have trucks of three different sizes available from each brand. Who doesn’t enjoy choice?

I do wonder if there’s enough market available for selling these smaller trucks. This Wall Street Journal article pointed out the midsize pickups accounted for only 1.7 percent of all U.S. auto sales last year.

USA Today points out that this new truck’s electronic package includes a Teen Driver mode that lets parents set speed limits and gives a “report card” of broken laws and misbehavior.

Copyright Ford Motor Co.

The 13th-generation Ford F-150

As everyone is reporting, this truck made big news with its weight savings brought about through the use of aluminum in the body panels instead of rolled steel.

The rumor mill on this issue has been running for months, with countless stories quoting anonymous sources leaking bits and pieces about the new body material.

Most recently, Automotive News published this piece pointing out that the US Postal Service’s delivery vehicles have had aluminum bodies since 1987, and have been working out pretty well (Don’t miss the clever GIF video) Also, just before the reveal, MotorTrend magazine had a little fun by claiming to have an image of the new truck before anyone else:

When the reveal came, Automotive blog Jalopnik said the new truck looked good when photos were released, and said it’s even better in person. They also had a little laugh pointing out the lower melting point of aluminum compared to steel in a less-than-serious fashion:

“See, steel has a melting temperature between 2600°F and 2800°F, while aluminum melts at a much cooler 1220°F. Many types of lava flows can reach temperatures of over 1750°F, no problem for steel, while causing aluminum frames to turn into glimmering custard.”

MotorTrend says SuperCrew F-150s will have the most weight savings, at about 700 pounds each, because they had the most steel to replace. Regular cab pickups will shed 500 pounds or so.

PickupTrucks.com went all-out with stories about each part of the new F-150 filling up its news section. Powertrains, Bed Tech and Trim Packages, Oh My! Autoblog’s Truck section had this piece, and included Ford’s video on the new truck:

The New York Times took the Q&A format for reporting on the new truck, but also included this close look into all the work and research and science that went into using aluminum for the body as well as the new 2.7L EcoBoost V6:

“Ford is using 5000- and 6000-series sheet — the numbers indicate the particular alloys — supplied by Alcoa and Novelis. These alloys are popular with automakers because they are easy to form, rugged and, in the case of 6000, provide the smooth ‘class A’ surfaces required for visible panels like fenders.”

Automotive News shared a nice bit of detail about that new smaller EcoBoost engine, which uses special materials and designs that are beyond my ability to explain, so I’ll just quote the story:

“The two-piece block has compact graphite iron on the upper section, while the lower half is made from die-cast aluminum.

“‘We used iron only where we need the strength, which is in the main bulkhead,’ said Bob Fascetti Ford’s vice president of powertrain engineering. ‘This whole thing, including the [bearing] caps are cast together,’ he said.”

All this tech sounds fancy, but it makes a difference. Jalopnik is pointing out that this new F-150 can actually do more for the environment than the Toyota Prius.

Anything I missed?

If you know of any good stories on these new trucks that should be added to this digest, email me at ladams@agricover.com with a link and a description.

UPDATE:

Ford did a sneaky little thing to show how tough this new truck is. It took a 2015 truck, stamped a 2014 body for it out of aluminum, then ran it in the BAJA 1000 race: