Sector Analysis: Pick-ups

Date: Thursday, September 20, 2012

Customers are spoilt for choice in the pick-up sector, but a slump in the construction industry has put the brake on sales. James Dallas reports
GDP figures for the second quarter of the year made grim reading with the UK economy shrinking by a sharper than expected 0.7%. The main blame for the fall was laid at the door of the construction industry, which was dubbed the “black spot in the economy” by the LibDem former Treasury spokesman Lord Oak­eshott, as housebuilding slumped to its lowest peacetime level since 1923.
It is ironic, then, that there should be a glut of new arrivals into the pick-up market. Although pick-ups have become more popular in the leisure sector, they are still the workhorses of choice for builders, and during the course of 2012, sales have suffered – down 22% to 11,100 at the half-year point.
The newest kids on the block hail from the Far East: from Japanese brand Isuzu comes the Rodeo- replacing D-max, and marking the entrance of a volume Chinese brand in the UK is the Steed from Great Wall. The IM Group imports both models to the UK and insists that in the new market they will not tread on each others’ toes, although it does concede that, with the Steed aimed firmly at the budget end of the market, buyers could be tempted to snaffle up a new one rather than plump for a used D-max, or Rodeo for that matter, with plenty of bruising shifts under its belt.
If one disregards price, standing shoulder to shoulder as new the D-max is by far the more capable vehicle. It has a payload of up to 1136kg for a start compared with the Steed’s 1050kg, and a towing capacity of three tonnes against the Chinese truck’s two-tonne limit.
From the eponymous entry-level model to the flagship Utah, the D-max is available in four trims, priced from £14,499 to £21,499, excluding VAT.
It is powered by a 163hp 2.5-litre diesel engine with combined fuel consumption put at 38.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 194g/km.
Isuzu offers the D-max in double, single and, for the first time in the UK, extended cab configurations. The line-up comes with a five-year/ 120,000-mile warranty, which comprises a 36-month/60,000-mile warranty plus an extension from Isuzu UK.
Great Wall makes no bones about the fact that it is selling the Steed on its bargain basement price tag. Two specifications are offered – S and SE – priced at £13,998 and £15,998 (excluding VAT) respectively. A 143hp 2.0 engine powers the pair and both are double cabs, but the SE gets a hard-top canopy to cover the load box. It is worth noting that the entry-level D-max is a 4x2 single cab but only £269 cheaper than the Steed S. Economy, however, will not be helped by the Steed’s official combined cycle fuel consumption of 34.0mpg and CO2 output of 220g/km.
Elsewhere in the sector Mitsubishi continued to freshen up its L200 range by giving its 2.5-litre Trojan DI-D double cab a 30% power boost to 175hp with torque increasing 27% to 400Nm. Trojan prices range from £17,999 to £19,324, excluding VAT.
VW further improved the reputation of its well-received Amarok with the launch of an eight-speed 180hp automatic during the summer to coincide with production of Europe-bound models moving to Hanover, Germany, from Argentina. VW says the move will increase supply numbers and reduce waiting times for UK customers. The 180hp version will replace the 163hp engine in both manual and auto modes. The brand says a single cab Amarok is also set for the UK.
Other new developments for the pick-up market include Ssangyong launching a Korando Sports pick-up aimed at the lifestyle market, while Chevrolet is also poised to introduce a production version of its Colorado double cab.
With Ford’s new Ranger bedding in and Toyota’s Euro5 and interior upgrades to the Hilux, there is an abundance of new pick-up product up for grabs. The sector just needs a shot in the arm from the economy…

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