Typical Truck Product Cycles Long Gone – New Products Coming Faster

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For decades, the typical product cycle of a truck was about seven years with powertrain components lasting a bit longer. Those days seem to be going by the wayside. As a full-size truck fan, this means no more waiting around for new technologies or improvements.

Typical Truck Product Cycles Long Gone - New Products Coming Faster

Changes are coming more rapidly to the full-size truck segment and this is a good thing for truck fans.



In the past few years, the full-size truck market has just exploded. Automakers are now depending on these profit machines to help their balance sheets and fund future vehicle development. This growth is also leading to a much more competitive market. Automakers are making changes more rapidly and this will benefit consumers.

Faster Market Reactions

As we told you last week, Toyota is working on a new 39-gallon gas tank for the Tundra (making it one of the largest in the class). We also are hearing from multiple sources that it will get an integrated trailer brake controller. No more aftermarket. And we also know, Toyota is working on tweaking the frame to improve the ride quality. That’s quite a few changes right after a new product launch.

Also changing things up is GM. Pickuptrucks.com is reporting GM will offer more gears in the transmission and maybe even start/stop technology as soon as next year.

GM’s changes seems to be a reaction to the 2015 Ford F-150 and the news Ram is pushing up its time frame. Ram will refresh its truck next year with a major overhaul coming in 2017. For reference, Ram’s last refresh was in 2013. This means, refresh in 2013, 2015 and overhaul in 2017.

There is also a new Nissan Titan coming next year and a new Honda Ridgeline which may debut later this year and you have a completely different segment.

We are also hearing the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier will be overhauled in the next few years. This is due to the introductions of the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado.

What does this all add up to? Every single truck on the market will either be new or recently refreshed by around 2015. Wow!

Profits, Competition Drive Market

The facts are the full-size truck market is a cash cow. Even conservative Toyota is responding to market demands faster than they ever have before. We got a chance to speak with Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager Bill Fay at the reveal for the Toyota Camry.

He said product cycles are really going out the window. Competition is now driving demand in all segments including the compact car segment. At Toyota, the speed of changes are happening more rapidly. Fay said Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda “isn’t a bean counter.” Akio wants to infuse excitement into the brand and isn’t willing to wait around.

We take that to mean, Toyota will be refreshing or rethinking every vehicle in their segment. While capacity restraints will continue to hamper the Tundra, if it needs a larger tank or a brake controller to be competitive, it will get it. Toyota will be working hard to fill any perceived weaknesses of the Tundra in the next year and we feel certain the 2015 Chicago Auto Show will feature many changes to the Tundra and Tacoma.

Could we see changes announcements of the larger tank, integrated brake controller and ride quality improvements to the Tundra being announced? Seems likely. A diesel? Maybe so. We know they have been testing one. How about a brand-new Tacoma? We know they are working on it.

The company that used to play it safe has now awakened to a more competitive marketplace. This is good for all truck fans and the next 18 months will be full of exciting offerings.

What excites you the most? What is on your wish list?

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  1. LJC says:

    This is no doubt exciting news and best for the consumer. However, there is a dark side to all this. Quality suffers and no automaker and its parts suppliers are immune to it. The only defense an automaker has, which does not work for all, is to back their product when the bad happens.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      LJC,

      Good point, faster development can mean less testing and quality concerns.

      -Tim

  2. Randy says:

    That is all excellent news. I hope Toyota is serious and will follow through with excellent QDR. “New” for the sake of new (like Ford) has seldom been a good thing.

    My eight month old 2014 Tundra has been an excellent truck in all areas except one significant area. So far, all the Toyota procedures of TASS Line for me and about 25+ other owners have not solved the problem. My dealer has pulled out all the stops attempting to resolve it; but Toyota is some sort of weird funky state of dumb corporate bureaucracy ………… and as of yet the problem is not fixed.

    Mike Sweers has told us all many times the new mantra is “give the owners what they want”.

    Well what this owner wants is “fix the thing that does not work” and I and at least 25 others I know about will be happy.

    So what is on my wish list?

    1. First and foremost is to address the largest current weakness – Quality. Yes it is true the Tundra is far better quality than Ford or GM; but it is still not at the level that will keep and retain owners. It is still not at the same level as all other Toyotas!

    2. Don’t let stuff leave the factory that does not work.

    3. Make certain that “all” components” are tested thoroughly before they go into assembly. Quite frankly I am surprised some heads did not roll on this one issue. Tundra still needs much improvement on the Q in the QDR. At a minimum bring it up to the level of Toyota cars.

    4. Work quickly and diligently in getting things fixed for owners – in other words put a stop to the customer service bureaucratic nightmare.

    5. When there are problems of this nature, keep customers informed so they have at least a clue and timeline for when the problem is going to be fixed. Keeping customers in the dark “is not the way to go”. Telling a customer “we do not know when it will be fixed is not acceptable”.

    Short Answer: I want better quality, the same I am use to with Toyota cars. I want things fixed that do not work.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Randy,

      I know Toyota has been working hard to improve their quality as of late. I’m not sure if they can ever get back to the reputation they used to have with so much units being manufactured as compared these days.

      Sorry to hear about a problem with your new truck. I must have missed it elsewhere, what is the problem?

      -Tim

      • LJC says:

        Yeah, I’m curious too.

      • Randy says:

        Tim,

        Well I am not the kind of person to post bad potatoes on the net. Useless I am at my wit’s end; so I do my best to keep my cool. Essentially, I am attempting to follow the necessary diplomatic channels to get it fixed. As of today I give my Dealer an “A” and Toyota a “F“ on this “one” item. Not having it fixed by now is the bad and sad part.

        I have been thinking about posting a detailed comparison between the F150 Ecoboost and the 2014 Tundra since there are none on the net (not real ones). The only reasons I have not is because this one item is not fixed……I would like to have it fixed long before a “bad potato” stage event. Overall there is no question the Tundra is a far better product than the F150 – I have lived with them both long enough to know that. So there are absolutely no regrets on my purchase.

        Hint: 2014 Toyota Highlander – Hush I’m not talking!

        Randy

        • LJC says:

          For what it’s worth, I have follwed the diplomatic channels with Toyota and found success. And I’m not the only one. Toyota will back their product. I had a long converstaion with a reputable service manager who worked for other brand dealerships and he says the same thing. Mainly, Toyota is much more likely to bend the rules to keep a client happy.

          I’m still curious what the problem you are having is. Your hint sounds as though it could be related to the entune system or smart-phone integration with the bluetooth system.

          • Randy says:

            I do hope there is a solution. It should be a very easy fix. In fact it should be an exceptionally super easy fix. I guess you could say it is a “lack” of communication between my dealer and Toyota. While both parties are clearly aware of the problem several times over the last several months there has still been no solution. It could very well be this is limited to a very small number of very early build trucks and mine happens to be one of them. Toyota does not have to bend the any rules at all, they just need to fix what did not work when it left the factory and still does not work today.

            In any event I will continue with the appropriate diplomatic channels.

  3. LJC says:

    Well, my wish list item is a backward compatiable selectable eLocker with a compass in the stock.

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