Auto Industry Experts Talk Midsize Trucks
We’ve discussed the growing success of the 2020 Jeep® Gladiator as of late. When the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Launch Edition sold out, there was a wake-up call. The midsize truck market is making a comeback. Call it superstition, or just guesswork, but research indicates that the auto market could soon see a boom of midsize trucks in the coming years. That research comes from AutoForecast Solutions and LMC Automotive, able to provide forecasting and market intelligence for possible growths in the auto industry.
In early May 2019, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) first-quarter earnings call took place. During that time, the automotive group focused on finding a solution to the current gap in their lineup for the truck market. Most notable, midsize trucks. Mike Manley, FCA Chief Executive Officer, made it clear that the automotive group is aware that their current portfolio lineup has a hole, and they intend to fill it with vehicles.
Initially, a lot of success comes from the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, but there is a “but” in the back of everyone’s mind. Jeepers and Jeep enthusiasts most likely make up the majority of buyers. Is the success of a Jeep pickup truck enough to provide a foothold for midsize trucks? Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions spoke of the Gladiator as more of a novelty or lifestyle vehicle. It appeals to the same people who buy a Jeep Wrangler – they want to go off-roading. The Jeep Gladiator is simply a truck that fulfills that desire.
Even so, David Franklin, a vehicle forecast analyst for LMC Automotive, told the Free Press last year that there is still hope. Maybe not anytime soon, but by 2023, the midsize truck market could double by 50-percent in sales. His forecast comes from data provided by Information Handling Services Markit, or “IHS Markit”, a company that collects information for business in aerospace, defense and security, chemical, energy, maritime and trade, technology, and the automotive industry. Based on data collected by HIS Markit, there is clear growth, from about 250,000 midsize truck units sold in 2014 to more than 450,000 midsize truck units sold in 2017.
It’s true that last year, 2018, FCA mentioned a midsize truck was in the works during the production of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. The automotive group has also been known to resurrect old nameplates in recent years. FCA filed trademarks for “Barracuda” and “Cuda” in 2017. The “Gladiator” name belongs to the original full-size Jeep Gladiator pickup truck built from 1962 to 1988. From 1987 to 2011, from Dodge to Ram, automotive forecasters and industry experts are all looking for signs of the Dodge Dakota.
“[The Dakota] established what we think of as the midsize pickup truck market now.” – Fiorani
That’s a pretty bold statement, considering that FCA took the truck out production. That’s what it really comes down to in the end – production. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is nearly at capacity, and although a midsize truck was rumored, Manley has noted more than once that finding a cost-effective platform to use to build the truck is still proving to be a struggle. It’s all starting to sound like a play-by-play on ESPN with retired players guestimating how one team will fare in the upcoming game.