Compact pickups bounce back

With increased fuel costs, will compact pickups make a comeback?

According to Wards Communications, sales of compact pickup trucks in the United States edged up 2.1% for the first six months of 2005. Some 348,884 have been sold this year.

As the Specialty Equipment Market Association points out, this “is not a great leap forward, as sales of the vehicles in the first six months of 2004 were down 9.3% over 2003 levels. Still, new models such as the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma have managed to stem some of the bleeding in the segment.

“Most notable this year is the sales increase of the General Motors Corp. entries, which had appeared dead on arrival in 2004. Chevy Colorado sales have risen 50% in the year's first six months to 75,387 units, and Canyon sales jumped 86.5% ahead of year-ago to 20,246.

To date, the Colorado and Canyon have exceeded first-half 2003 sales of their predecessors, the Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma, SEMA observes.

Excluding June, when GM's “Employee Discount for Everyone” incentive program drove its U.S. sales to record levels, Colorado was up 40.1% January-May and Canyon sales rose 65.1% in the first five months vs. year-ago. The average industry incentive on Colorado has actually decreased this year, going from $3,034 in January to $2,860 in June, according to Edmunds.com. The Chevy S-10, by comparison, had an average $2,876 on its hood in June 2002. Canyon incentives are down as well, from $3,362 in January to $2,867 in June. June incentives were $178 below June 2002 spiffs.

According to Ward’s, sales of compact pickups reached their highest level in 1986, when 1.46 million units were sold.

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