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BringIt said:
I firmly believe that compact, 4 door pickups is the best vehicle to enter the US market first.

There is vertually no competition, and the bar on refinement and quality is probably the lowest of all vehicle segments.
Aside from the Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Chevrolet Colorado (7-year warranty), GMC Canyon (7-year warranty), Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Isuzu I-Series (10-year warranty)...there's virtually no competition.
 

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The Colorado, Canyon, and I-Series are still small pickups.

And the reason why these trucks are moving up in size has much to do with the shrinking market for small pickups...at any price. Just because it's cheap doesn't mean there's a market for it. For $11k, you can get an excellent used small pickup (I even priced a new Isuzu I-Series for $11,800) or a very good used full-sized pickup. Why would someone forego the added utility (and that is what these buyers want) for the "newness" of a truck from an untested brand name?
 

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Let's see....small truck market is shrinking because nobody (not a significant number of buyers) wants a tiny truck. The Ranger's cheap and small...and sales are dropping. Bring in an old-technology Chinese small truck and it will be no better, but the Ranger has 3,000 dealers with a known history.

New vs used is becoming a tougher and tougher thing since late model used vehicles today are of a higher quality than NEW vehicles of just 20 years ago. So if you can get a used 50,000-mile F150 for the price of a new little Chinese truck, which do you think the market will prefer? And Kia sells a few hundred thousand vehicles because they're decent products for their price...they're competing with NEW cars more than used ones.

Imagine a well-equipped 11,000-mile Ford F150 for $9,000 (I just found it on cars.com). Do you really think a truck buyer would choose a new truck the size of a Ranger for the price of a gently used full-sized pickup? As proof...Isuzu sells only a few hundred I-Series pickups each month at the low prices they have and they carry a 10-year warranty. Price isn't everything.
 

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BringIt said:
Again, I do not believe no one wants small trucks, especially with the gas prices these days. They don't buy small trucks because there are no good choices. The major car makers simply abandoned this segment because they don't make any money at all. The Ranger is dying because it's just way too old, and the price is not that much cheaper than a F-150, which Ford can build for the same money and promotes heavily (when's the last time you seen a Ranger commercial?)

Remember just a few years back everyone wrote off the small car market? Small cars were ugly and unattractive (remember the Echo?) Now with gas prices going thru the roof and a new wave of smartly designed small cars, the segment is booming.

Same thing can be done to the small truck market. A smart and attractively designed, robust and reliable, well priced entry would do quite well. (Again, keep in mind of the gas prices. Without that factor, small trucks or cars would not fly in the US market.)

Let's see, do I want a gas guzzling, used F-150, about to run out of warranty, with funny dog pee smell and unknown stains on the seats, OR I could have a small 4 door pickup, with that brand new car smell, backed by a 10 year warranty, do much better on gas, all for the same $9000? I'd take the new truck thank you very much.
The Ranger (and Mazda B-Series) is thousands of dollars less expensive than an F-Series, as are the GM triplets (Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Isuzu I-Series). Even with the 4-door Isuzu being sold with a 10-year warranty and a price well under $15,000, sales are still pitiful.

Gas prices are far from "going thru the roof" and the compact car market is doing well, but it's not "booming." Other than Scion's 150,000 additional sales, what vehicle is "booming" in that segment? Yaris? Echo sold very well in its first years too. Aveo? The Metro sold very well in its first years.

Pickups are, for the most part, designed to work. Some casual buyers are realizing that and moving to cars and "crossovers." And the people who actually use their trucks would rather have a full-sized pickup (a V6 F150 gets only slightly less mileage than a V6 Ranger) or at minimum a mid-sized pickup from Dodge or Toyota. There's little or no demand for a pickup smaller than those trucks in the US. If Subaru's Baja had been a bigger seller, I might be convinced otherwise. But I just don't see it.

As for price, off-lease F150s can be found clean (no dog pee) with plenty of mileage left on them. An F150 will routinely run well over 100,000 miles without a major problem...who's going to believe that a "no-name" brand from a country that has never sold a vehicle in the US will do the same on their first try? And who will repair it when something does go wrong?
 

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BringIt said:
Now try and sell that brand new 4 door Isuzu for $10,000 - you don't think they can sell 100,000 of them a year? Same with the Subaru's Baja (the styling is aweful I know). You'd be crazy not to.
No...I don't think that, and it's my job to study such things. If a four-door Isuzu could sell 100,000 copies at $10,000, they'd sell more than the 6-7k a year at just a couple thousand dollars more.

Buyers want to know that they can get service (which a new brand cannot guarantee)...and a used car already has a dealer network available. Buyers want to know that the truck will have some value in five years...ask Daewoo buyers what their cars are worth today. All these things point to a new Chinese truck NOT reaching 100,000 units of sales in the first few years of sales in the US.

American trucks are better equipped than the Chinese trucks. They're better quality. And they don't get taxed with a 25% tariff (which Chinese trucks would get).
 

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BringIt said:
The Isuzu is a Chevy/GMC knockoff, so no one in their right mind would buy a Chevy re-badged as an Isuzu (it's like a downgrade), that's where this particular problem lies. Now, how many Chevy/GMC/Isuzu sells in a year? Yes, a lot. Now reduce the price to $10,000... they'd flying off the shelves.
Technically, Chevrolet and GMC are knockoffs of the Isuzu pickup since Isuzu designed the truck in the first place. The Isuzu is already under $12,000 in transaction prices for extended cab pickups and a little more for crew cabs, they carry a much better warranty than the Chevrolet/GMC (making the GM brands a downgrade), and they sell far fewer than 10,000 units a year. The ONLY reason why Chevrolet and GMC are clearing 165,000 trucks a year is because they have somewhere above 5,000 dealers selling them, which brings us to the next point...
BringIt said:
Again, you're talking about dealer network and maintenance/repair services - I've said it's a given that whoever comes to this market, in any vehicle segment, must have this area covered, so it's a moot point. Ask Daewoo buyers? Why not ask Kia and Hyundai buyers?
Yes, they "must have this area covered," which they won't. It has taken Kia 14 years to build their current dealership network and they have no vehicles sold in volumes over 100,000 units a year. Hyundai has over two decades in the US and they have one 100,000-unit model. Unless you're talking 20 years after model introduction, my bet is against Zhongxing selling 100,000 of any model in the US in a year.

I pointed to Daewoo because Hyundai and Kia actually have some resale value. Daewoo does not. Yugo didn't. Price alone does not sell a vehicle, and I can almost guarantee that a $10,000 four-door pickup from China will compete more with 4-year old (or more probably 6-year old) used pickups. I can't imagine any significant number of new-truck buyers seriously considering a $10,000 "small" pickup from an unknown manufacturer when a $12,000 Isuzu or $15,000 Ford/Chevrolet is available with more cargo capacity and proven track records...and documented resale values.

BringIt said:
The 25% truck tariff only applies to 2 door single cab trucks (I'm pretty sure of it). That's why I keep saying a "4 door truck", and the truck can't be something right off the Chinese market, it has to be a design up to US standards - so we can assume it will be nicely designed, engineered, and equipped.
Actually the tariff applies to "trucks," 2-door, extended cab, or 4-door pickups and even commercial vans. There was even a point where 2-door SUVs were considered to be trucks under the same regulation.

BringIt said:
So one more time - I think compact pickup is the easiest segment to enter first and I gave my reasons. Which segment do you think would be easier or more ideal? Please provide your reasons and rationale.
You're probably right that this would be the easiest to enter. My point is that "easiest" doesn't equate to "easy." All of the obsticles I've mentioned are huge which is why the number of new light-vehicle manufacturers entering the US market in the past 20 years can be counted on one hand.
 

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Take whatever angle makes you feel best, but I was talking the same apples as you.
BringIt said:
The fact is no American is going to buy the same Chevy/GMC truck with an Isuzu logo on it.
This goes to my point. The SAME truck with a better warranty, a lower price, and established dealerships can't sell 10,000 units. And your point is that it's a lesser name. Do you think another brand entering the US market with no history and a $10,000 price tag will have a better name than Isuzu?

BringIt said:
I never said whoever it may be could sell 100,000 in the very first year.
Right, but even five or ten years will take STELLAR quality and a SPECTACULAR dealer network. Pickup truck buyers are particularly patriotic in the US, which is probably why the Ranger (and ancient vehicle) still sells 100,000 units a year. And yet another reason (on top of the tariff issue) that all pickups sold in the US are actually built in North America.

BringIt said:
Again, all of the obstacles you mentioned are well known, by everyone in the car industry, even all the folks on this forum. Nothing new there. Those same obstacles will only be greater if you try to bring vehicles in another segment, such as Bricklin's plan with luxury cars. At the very least, the obstacles are smaller when it comes to low-priced compact pickups.
The obstacles are smaller, but in the long-term selling something higher priced with even more features (Bricklin's BMW at a Chevrolet price idea) is a better concept. If you enter at the entry level, you're going to be saddled with the "cheap" label for a long time, like Hyundai who now builds very good cars but still can't shake the Excel heritage.

BringIt said:
The Chinese cars will eventually be here.
Yes. So will the Indian and Thai manufacturers. I even expect Russian vehicles at some point and there's the potential for Brazilian vehicles to return to the US market. But pickups have a financial handicap (except for Thailand who might be excempted from the "chicken tax" that charges 25% on pickups), even for low-cost Chinese manufacturers.

Enough of this apple and orange talk...I'm getting hungry.
 

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Range Rovers, Land Cruisers, and Cayennes are SUVs. Being four-door SUVs, they side-step the law. There was a time when regulators made a differentiation between a 2-door SUV and a 4-door SUV where the 2-door models were trucks and the 4-door models were "passenger cars," but Nissan sued and won making all SUVs "passenger cars" under the law.

Pickups of all bodystyles (as long as they have an open bed) are "trucks" and fall under the "chicken tax." I'm not sure how the law treats vans (specifically Kia, Hyundai, and Mazda minivans) since it was originally established to punish Germany who was exporting Volkswagen vans to the US.
 

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The actual regulation may not say "bed" but may refer to an opening from the passenger area to the cargo compartment. If you made a Bronco/4Runner-like vehicle, that would be an SUV. I do recall Subaru creating the BRAT with the jump seats in the bed to make it a passenger car and not a truck, therefore evading the tariff.

The "chicken tax" only applies to countries that the US does not have trade agreements with. If you were to build a truck in countries like Chile or Israel or the Dominican Republic, your vehicle would be exempt. Australia and Thailand have been working on similar agreements (the former may already exist).
 
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