Sector Analysis: Pick-Ups

Date: Friday, March 23, 2012

Several players, including the likes of Ford and Toyota, are jostling for supremacy in a segmentwhere the established order is under threat. James Dallas reports.
The pick-up sector hit the news last year with a couple of major brands throwing new products into the ring, while others are waiting in the wings or, in the case of the market-leading Toyota Hilux, revising their offering.
First up was the VW Amarok. It arrived in showrooms last May in double cab form, powered by VW’s 2.0-litre common rail diesel engine with a choice of 122hp or 163hp output. VW has now confirmed that a single cab version will join the range in September, and an auto will be offered in November as an alternative to the six-speed manual transmission. The single cab will attract interest as a working vehicle but is only expected to sell in low volumes. At 2205mm, its load bed will be 650mm longer than the double cab’s.
The Amarok made its auction debut at Manheim’s Bruntingthorpe centre in November. In a closed sale a pair of highly specced double cab 163hp Highline models with selectable 4Motion all-wheel drive went under the hammer. One of the pair, with 8028 miles on the clock, achieved 98% of list price when it sold for £24,400 excluding VAT, while the other, with just 800 miles under its wheels, achieved 104% of list price and went for £25,800 (excl. VAT).
Ford’s Ranger finally went on sale in the UK in January. The sophisticated off-roader marks a major advance in comfort and kudos compared with its utilitarian predecessor, and a stylish new cabin will give the Amarok a run for its money. It comes with two Duratorq TDCi engines – a 150hp 2.2-litre and a 200hp 3.2-litre – both mated to six-speed manual or auto transmissions. Ford says a 125hp engine will join the line-up later. Prices range from £14,754 to £24,279 (excl. VAT), and four trim levels are on offer: XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak. A 4x2 is available but the 4x4 will take 90% of sales.
Nissan has not changed the Navarra – a top pick-up in terms of European sales – since sprucing up the line-up in 2010 and adding the 3.0-litre V6 Outlaw, but Toyota has given the Hilux – another European heavyeight – a makeover for 2012, both inside and out. The 144hp 2.5-litre and 177hp 3.0-litre engines have been updated to Euro5 too, with the latter available with an automatic as well as a five-speed manual transmission. The four-wheel drive-only Hilux is marketed as a two-door single cab, a two-door Extra cab and four-door five-seater double cab. Trim levels step up from HL2 to HL3 to the flagship Invincible.
The Isuzu Rodeo will be replaced during 2012, while Chevrolet is to return to the market in the second half of the year with a vehicle based on the Colorado show truck, and Mazda, Great Wall and Ssangyong are all also looking to enter the pick-up arena this year.

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