Pickup truck

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Ford F-150 Supercrew with tonneau, four doors, sidestep, and wind deflectors Ford F-150 crew cab -- 05-28-2011.jpg
Ford F-150 Supercrew with tonneau, four doors, sidestep, and wind deflectors

A pickup truck or pickup is a light-duty truck that has an enclosed cabin and an open cargo area with low sides and tailgate. [1] In Australia and New Zealand, both pickups and coupé utilities are called utes , short for utility vehicle. In South Africa, people of all language groups use the term bakkie, a diminutive of bak, Afrikaans for "bowl" or "container".


Once a work or farming tool with few creature comforts, in the 1950s US consumers began purchasing pickups for lifestyle reasons, and by the 1990s, less than 15% of owners reported use in work as the pickup truck's primary purpose. [2] In North America, the pickup is mostly used as a passenger car [3] and accounts for about 18% of total vehicles sold in the United States. [4] Full-sized pickups and SUVs are an important source of revenue for major car manufacturers such as GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, accounting for more than two-thirds of their global pretax earnings, though they make up just 16% of North American vehicle production. These vehicles have a high profit margin and a high price tag, with 40% of Ford F-150s selling for US$40,000 or more. [5]

The term pickup is of unknown origin. It was used by Studebaker in 1913 and by the 1930s, "pick-up" (hyphenated) had become the standard term. [6]


A 1922 Ford Model T pickup 1922 Ford Model T Pickup 2.jpg
A 1922 Ford Model T pickup
A 1961 International Travelette 1961 IHC Travelette.jpg
A 1961 International Travelette

In the early days of automobile manufacturing, vehicles were sold as a chassis only, and third parties added bodies on top. [7] In 1902, the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company was founded by Max Grabowsky and Morris Grabowsky who built one-ton carrying capacity trucks in Pontiac, Michigan. In 1913, the Galion Allsteel Body Company, an early developer of the pickup and dump truck, built and installed hauling boxes on slightly modified Ford Model T chassis, [8] and from 1917 on the Model TT. Seeking part of this market share, Dodge introduced a 3/4-ton pickup with cab and body constructed entirely of wood in 1924. [9] In 1925, Ford followed up with a Model T-based, steel-bodied, half-ton with an adjustable tailgate and heavy-duty rear springs. [10] Billed as the "Ford Model T Runabout with Pickup Body", it sold for US$281; 34,000 were built. In 1928, it was replaced by the Model A which had a closed-cab, safety-glass windshield, roll-up side windows and three-speed transmission.

In 1931, GM introduced light duty pickups for both GMC and Chevrolet targeted at private ownership which were based on the Chevrolet Master then in 1940 introduced the dedicated light truck platform separate from passenger car called the AK series . [11] Ford North America continued to offer a pickup bodystyle on the Ford Model 51, and the Ford Australian division produced the first Australian "ute" in 1932. [12] In 1940 Ford offered a dedicated light duty truck platform called the Ford F100 then upgraded after the war to the Ford F-Series in 1948. Dodge assumed truck production from Graham-Paige while the company did produce their own truck during World War 1 called the Dodge T-, V-, W-Series. International Harvester offered the International K and KB series which were marketed towards construction and farming and didn't have a strong retail consumer presence, and Studebaker also manufactured the M-series truck. At the beginning of the Second World War, the United States government halted the production of privately owned pickup trucks, and all American manufacturers built heavy duty trucks for the war effort. [11]

In the 1950s, consumers began purchasing pickups for lifestyle rather than utilitarian reasons. [11] Car-like, smooth-sided, fenderless trucks were introduced, such as the Chevrolet Fleetside, the Chevrolet El Camino, the Dodge Sweptline, and in 1957, Ford's purpose-built Styleside. Pickups began to feature comfort items such as power options and air conditioning. [2] During this time pickups with four-doors, known as a crew cab, started to become popular. Released in 1954 in Japan with the Toyota Stout, [13] [14] in 1957 in Japan with the Datsun 220 and in 1957 in America with the International Travelette. [15] Other manufactures soon followed. The Hino Briska in 1962, Dodge in 1963, [16] Ford in 1965, and General Motors in 1973. [17]

In 1963, the U.S. chicken tax directly curtailed the import of the Volkswagen Type 2, distorting the market in favor of American manufacturers. [18] The tariff directly affected any country seeking to bring light trucks into the U.S. and effectively "squeezed smaller Asian truck companies out of the American pickup market." [19] Over the intervening years, Detroit lobbied to protect the light-truck tariff, [18] thereby reducing pressure on Detroit to introduce vehicles that polluted less and that offered increased fuel economy. [18]

The US government's 1973 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) policy sets higher fuel-economy requirements for cars than pickups. CAFE led to the replacement of the station wagon by the minivan, the latter being in the truck category, which allowed it compliance with less-strict emissions standards. Eventually, this same idea led to the promotion of sport utility vehicles (SUVs). [20] [21] Pickups, unhindered by the emissions controls regulations on cars, began to replace muscle cars as the performance vehicle of choice. The Dodge Warlock appeared in Dodge's "adult toys" line, [2] along with the Macho Power Wagon and Street Van. The 1978 gas guzzler tax, which taxed fuel-inefficient cars while exempting pickup trucks, further distorted the market in favor of pickups. Furthermore, until 1999, light trucks were not required to meet the same safety standards as cars [22] and 20 years later most still lagged behind cars in the adoption of safety features. [23]

In the 1980s, the compact Mazda B-series, Isuzu Faster, and Mitsubishi Forte appeared. Subsequently, American manufacturers built their own compact pickups for the domestic market: the Ford Ranger, and the Chevrolet S-10. Minivans make inroads into the pickups' market share. [2] In the 1990s, pickups' market share was further eroded by the popularity of SUVs. [2]

International markets

While the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States since 1982, [24] the Ford F-150, or indeed any full-sized pickup truck, is a rare sight in Europe, where high fuel prices and narrow city roads make it difficult to use daily. [25] In America, pickups are favored by a cultural attachment to the style, low fuel prices, and taxes and regulations that distort the market in favor of domestically built trucks. [18] As of 2016, the IRS offers tax breaks for business use of "any vehicle equipped with a cargo area ... of at least six feet in interior length that is not readily accessible from the passenger compartment". [26]

In Europe, pickups represent less than 1% of light vehicles sold, [27] the most popular being the Ford Ranger with 27,300 units sold in 2015. [28] Other models include the Renault Alaskan (a rebadged Nissan Navara), and the Toyota Hilux.

The NOx law and other differing regulations prevent pickups from being imported to Japan, but the Japanese Domestic Market Mitsubishi Triton was available for a limited time. The most-recent pickup truck on sale in Japan is Toyota Hilux.

In China (where it is known by the English loanword as 皮卡车 pí kǎ chē) the Great Wall Wingle is manufactured domestically and exported to Australia. [29] In Thailand pickups manufactured for local sale and export include the Isuzu D-Max and the Mitsubishi Triton. In Latin and South America, the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, VW Amarok, Dodge Ram, Chevrolet S-10, Chevrolet D-20, and Chevrolet Montana are sold.

In South Africa, pickups account for about 17% of the passenger and light commercial vehicle sales, mostly the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, and Isuzu KB (Isuzu D-Max). [30] The Volkswagen Amarok and Nissan Navara are also sold.

Design and features

In the US and Canada, nearly all new pickups are sold with automatic transmissions. The Nissan Frontier, Jeep Gladiator, and Toyota Tacoma are available with manual transmissions.

A regular cab has a single row of seats and a single set of doors, one on each side. Extended or super cab pickups add an extra space behind the main seat, sometimes including small seats. The first extended cab truck in the U.S. was called the Club Cab and was introduced by Chrysler in 1973 on Dodge pickup trucks. A crew cab, or double cab, seats five or six and has four full-sized, front-hinged doors. The first crew cab truck in the U.S. was made by International Harvester in 1957, and was later followed by Dodge in 1963, Ford in 1965, and Chevrolet in 1973.

Cab-over or cab forward designs have the cab sitting above the front axle. This arrangement allows a longer cargo area for the same overall length. An early cab-forward, drop-sided pickup was the Volkswagen Transporter, introduced in 1952. This configuration is more common among European and Japanese manufacturers than in North America. The design was more popular in North America in the 1950s and '60s, examples including the Chevrolet Corvair Rampside and Loadside, Dodge A-100 and A-108, Ford Econoline, and Jeep FC-150 & FC-170.

The cargo bed can vary in size according to whether the vehicle is optimized for cargo utility or passenger comfort. Most have fixed side walls and a hinged tailgate. Cargo beds are normally found in two styles: step-side or fleet-side. A step-side bed has fenders which extend on the outside of the cargo area. A fleet-side bed has wheel-wells inside the bed. The first fleet-sided truck was the 1955 Chevrolet Cameo Carrier. Early trucks had wood-plank beds, which were largely replaced by steel by the 1960s. Some European-style trucks use a drop-sided bed with a flat tray with hinged panels rising up on the sides and the rear.

A pickup with four rear wheels instead of two is, in North America, called a "dually", which is able to carry more weight over the rear axle. Vehicles similar to the pickup include the coupé utility, a car-based pickup, and the larger sport utility truck (SUT), based on a sport utility vehicle (SUV).

The terms half-ton and three-quarter-ton are remnants from a time when the number referred to the maximum cargo capacity by weight. [31]

The last time Chevrolet and GMC used the Stepside style was on the 2007 Silverado and Sierra Classic models. Ford last used the Flareside style mostly in the 2009 F-150, but it continues on the Raptor variant.


1974 Dodge D200 with camper 1974 Dodge D200 pickup - camper special (4880939128).jpg
1974 Dodge D200 with camper

In the US and Canada, pickups are used primarily for passenger transport. Pickup trucks are often marketed and used for their hauling (utilizing cargo bed) and towing (utilizing body on frame design and long wheelbase) capabilities.

Equipping pickup trucks with camper shells provides a small living space for camping. Slide-in truck campers, though, give a pickup truck the amenities of a small motorhome, but still allow the operator the option of removal and independent use of the vehicle. [32]

Modified pickups can be used as improvised, unarmoured combat vehicles called technicals.

Pickup trucks are used to carry passengers in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. In Thailand, most songthaews are converted pickup trucks and flatbed trucks. In Haiti, Tap taps are also converted pickup trucks.

See also

Related Research Articles

Van Covered transportation vehicle

A van is a type of road vehicle used for transporting goods or people. Depending on the type of van, it can be bigger or smaller than a truck and SUV, and bigger than a common car. There is some varying in the scope of the word across the different English-speaking countries. The smallest vans, microvans, are used for transporting either goods or people in tiny quantities. Mini MPVs, compact MPVs, and MPVs are all small vans usually used for transporting people in small quantities. Larger vans with passenger seats are used for institutional purposes, such as transporting students. Larger vans with only front seats are often used for business purposes, to carry goods and equipment. Specially-equipped vans are used by television stations as mobile studios. Postal services and courier companies use large step vans to deliver packages.

Ford Ranchero Motor vehicle

The Ford Ranchero is a coupe utility that was produced by Ford between 1957 and 1979. Unlike a standard pickup truck, the Ranchero was adapted from a two-door station wagon platform that integrated the cab and cargo bed into the body. A total of 508,355 units were produced during the model's production run. Over its lifespan it was variously derived from full-sized, compact, and intermediate automobiles sold by Ford for the North American market.

Isuzu Japanese truck and bus and former car manufacturer

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Chevrolet S-10 Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet S-10 is a compact pickup truck that was produced by Chevrolet. It was the first domestically built compact pickup of the big three American automakers. When it was first introduced as a "quarter-ton pickup" in 1981 for the 1982 model year, the GMC version was known as the S-15 and later renamed the GMC Sonoma. A high-performance version was released in 1991 and given the name of GMC Syclone. The pickup was also sold by Isuzu as the Hombre from 1996 through 2000, but only in North America. There was also an SUV version, the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer/GMC S-15 Jimmy. An electric version was leased as a fleet vehicle in 1997 and 1998. Together, these pickups are often referred to as the S-series.

Chevrolet C/K Motor vehicle

C/K is a series of trucks that were manufactured by General Motors. Marketed under the Chevrolet and GMC brands, the C/K series included a wide range of vehicles. While most commonly associated with pickup trucks, the model line also included chassis-cab trucks and medium-duty trucks and served as the basis for GM full-size SUVs. Used for both the model branding and the internal model code, "C" denoted two-wheel drive; "K" denoted four-wheel drive. For third-generation examples produced between 1987 and 1991, these were replaced by "R" and "V", respectively.

Chevrolet Colorado Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet Colorado and its counterpart, the GMC Canyon, is a series of compact and later mid-size pickup trucks marketed by American automaker General Motors. They were introduced in 2004 to replace the Chevrolet S-10 and GMC S-15/Sonoma compact pickups. It is named for the U.S. state of Colorado. Along with rival Ford Ranger, the GM twins were the last compact pickup trucks on sale until 2012.

Ford Excursion Motor vehicle

The Ford Excursion is a heavy duty, full-sized SUV that was produced by Ford. The longest and heaviest SUV ever to enter mass production, the Excursion was marketed as a direct competitor of the 2500-series (¾-ton) Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL. Introduced on September 30, 1999 for the 2000 model year, a single generation was produced through the 2005 model year.

Ford Courier Motor vehicle

Ford Courier is a model nameplate used by Ford since the early 1950s. First used in North America for a sedan delivery, the Courier nameplate has seen use worldwide for multiple types of vehicles. The Courier nameplate was also used by Ford for a series of compact pickup trucks and would also see use by Ford of Europe denoting a Fiesta-based panel van. Ford Brazil used the nameplate for a Fiesta-based coupe utility pickup marketed across Latin America.

Toyota T100 Motor vehicle

The Toyota T100 is a mid-size pickup truck produced by Toyota between 1992 and 1998. It was developed strictly for the US markets, where larger pickups have a sizable market share.

Toyota 4Runner Compact, later mid-size sport utility vehicle manufactured by Toyota

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The Toyota Stout was a light truck produced by the Japanese automaker Toyota from 1954 through 1989. The Stout shared its platform with the Toyota Dyna until 1968, when the Dyna was given its own platform, called the Toyota "U". In Japan, it was sold at Toyota Japanese dealerships called Toyopet Store.

Toyota Hilux Motor vehicle

The Toyota Hilux is a series of pickup trucks produced and marketed by the Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota. The majority of these vehicles are sold as pickup truck or cab chassis variants, although they could be configured in a variety of body styles. The pickup truck was sold with the HiLux name in most markets, but in North America, the Hilux name was retired in 1976 in favor of Truck, Pickup Truck, or Compact Truck. In North America, the popular option package, the SR5, was colloquially used as a model name for the truck, even though the option package was also used on other Toyota models, like the 1972 to 1979 Corolla. In 1984, the Toyota Trekker, the camper version of the Hilux, was renamed the 4Runner in Venezuela, Australia and North America, and the Hilux Surf in Japan. In 1995, Toyota introduced a new pickup model, the Tacoma, in North America, thus discontinuing the Hilux/Pickup. The 4Runner is now a full SUV, and the more recent models of the Hilux are separate in appearance from the Tacoma.

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Panel van Cargo vehicle based on passenger car chassis

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Ute (vehicle)

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Isuzu Faster Motor vehicle

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Coupé utility Automotive body style

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International Harvester Travelette American light-duty pickup truck

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Automotive industry in Thailand Auto industry Thailand

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