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Smaller Pick Up Trucks May Be The Way To Go

Tuesday, 20 May 2008 | 9:59 AM ET
Ford
CNBC.com
Ford

Calling all truck lovers. Yes, those of you who drive a pick-up every day to work and those of you who just feel at home driving a big ol' F-Series or Silverado. Here's a question to ponder: Whatever happened to the small pick-up? You know, one like Ford's Ranger, which provided a basic, if sometimes unspectacular ride.

I ask it because of an article in the Detroit News about Ford considering a plan to revamp its pick-up line to include a smaller version of the F-150 and a next generation small pick-up to replace the Ranger. The move would be in response to gas prices that are expected to stay high.

Personally, I think it's a smart move for two reasons.

First, I think the booming middle classes in China and India will drive greater demand for gas in the years to come. So don't expect gas prices to fall back substantially anytime soon. Second, the pick-up has evolved into a supersized beast leaving a lot of people with the same bloated feeling you get after downing a super big gulp. Bigger is not always better.

Yes, I realize that the Big 3 have been in an arms race of sorts to top each other with a pick-up that delivers more capacity, more options for workers, more luxury, and a lot more room.

On one hand, it makes sense. These are moving offices for many people and they need a truck that can do it all. But on the other hand, pick-ups have evolved to the point where I half expect the next generation to look like one of those monster trucks that smash cars like pop cans.

Ford has been forced into pursuing this smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient truck line because it has to do something with gas running higher and higher. But, it's not alone. GM and Chrysler are likely doing the same. If they aren't, somebody oughtta check if the folks at those firms are living under a rock. This is one time where less may be more.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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