Ford, easily Canada's best-selling vehicle, sold 126,277 F-150 pickup trucks last year. General Motors was second with a combined 90,005 sales for its GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado and Ram was third with 88,521 sales.
The nearest passenger car? Honda sold 66,057 Civics. Canadians – in fact, all North Americans – love their pickup trucks.
What was once just a fixture of rural farms and construction work sites has become a familiar sight in suburban driveways and city parking spots. The pickup has gone mainstream.
"The pickup segment has a very diverse customer profile," says Ed Broadbear, vice-president of marketing for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Canada, which sells the Ram pickup. "With some of our other products, such as the Fiat 500, you can kind of hone in on what type of person will buy it.
"But with the truck segment, everybody is a buyer. From young to old, male to female, people who use it for work or for personal use, for towing a trailer, whatever. So it's more challenging to market it."
The interactive chart below shows the best selling truck and car for each of the major brands and how many were sold in Canada in 2013 and 2014. See how cars match up with trucks and how the Ford F-150 dominates the marketplace. Click on the dots to see the exact number of vehicles sold.
Of course, you can still buy a base-model, two-door, six-cylinder work truck for the job site. But auto makers have been broadening the spectrum of trucks since the late 1990s; options such as extended cabs, crew cabs, short beds and four-wheel drive have opened up the market to those who need the utility a pickup offers yet still need to drive the family around. And, with some prices approaching those of a luxury car, customers can find the comfort and safety amenities associated with a Mercedes or Cadillac.
Nissan's Titan has struggled in the Canadian market, but the company is set to introduce a new version later this year. The vehicle was on display at the Canadian International Auto Show. Richard Miller, the chief product specialist on the Titan, says the new truck will appeal to those who don't want to compromise between utility, versatility and comfort.
"When I was growing up, dad had a regular cab truck, and that was his truck," Miller says. "But we always drove mom's station wagon as a family. Today, we don't always have the luxury of having a car dedicated to dad just going back and forth to work and his hobbies on the weekend; it has to be a family car, too. The crew cab just morphed out of that need, in the late '90s, and became the new status."
The new Titan will feature parking sensors, as well as a unique four-corner camera system, that help drivers manoeuvre in tight parking spaces, an appeal to those living in urban areas. And all the truck makers offer opulent, high-grade interiors with rich leather and real wood befitting a luxury car – for a price, of course.
Honda will debut a new version of its mid-sized Ridgeline in a few years after a hiatus for the model. Hayato Mori, senior manager of product planning and business development with Honda Canada, says the new Ridgeline will be a more traditional truck design and should appeal to those looking for more casual versatility.
"We'll get what I like to call 'fashion' pickup buyers. Those customers lead an active lifestyle, but they're not using it to haul dirt. Maybe camping equipment, or towing, like a boat," he says. "A lot of it is image, a toughness. Even if people need that ability once a month, they do use it. But they also like to personify that image on a daily basis."
Trucks have developed over the past decade to the point where their ride and handling are more comfortable and capable for everyday use. But another reason for the popularity of pickups is fuel economy; auto makers have worked hard to make big trucks approach the efficiency of other SUVs and even larger cars.
"Today's trucks are getting much, much better at fuel efficiency," Mori says. "You still get the power but use much less fuel than 10 years ago. So the appeal is that I can own a tough-looking pickup and still not break the bank."
Broadbear agrees. His Ram 4x2 fitted with the 3.0-litre EcoDiesel is the most fuel-efficient light pickup on the market, rated at 11.6 litres/100 km in the city and 8.4 on the highway.
"When it comes to fuel economy, it hasn't been so much a reason to buy, but a reason not to buy in the light-duty segment. So we make sure to talk about [the fuel-efficiency of the Ram]," Broadbear says.
"That makes a lot more sense for consumers; they can drive it and still get good fuel economy. So I think that opens up a lot of the population for people who can consider a truck."
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