A pickup truck is a light duty truck having an enclosed cab and an open cargo area with low sides and tailgate. Once a work tool with few creature comforts, in the 1950s consumers began purchasing pickups for lifestyle reasons and by the 1990s less than 15 percent of owners reported use in work as the pickup truck's primary purpose. Today in North America, the pickup is mostly used like a passenger car.
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. In Australia and New Zealand ute, short for utility, is used for both pickups and coupé utilities. In South Africa people of all language groups use the term bakkie, a diminutive of bak, Afrikaans for bowl.
In the early days of automobile manufacturing, vehicles were sold as a chassis only, and third parties added bodies on top. 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, 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. In 1925 Ford followed up with a Model T-based steel-bodied, half-ton with an adjustable tailgate and heavy-duty rear springs. 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 Chevrolet produced its first factory-assembled pickup. Ford Australia produced the first Australian "ute" in 1932. During the second world war, the United States government halted the product of privately-owned pickup trucks.
In the 1950s consumers began purchasing pickups for lifestyle rather than utilitarian reasons. 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 like power options and air conditioning. Trucks became more passenger-oriented with the introduction of crew cabs in the Toyota Stout and the Hino Briska, was introduced in 1962. Dodge followed with a crew cab in 1963, Ford in 1965, and General Motors in 1973. Many modern pickups are considered luxury cars, having such features as AWD/four wheel drive, Bluetooth and DVD Players, front and rear cameras, heated/cooled leather seating, sunroofs, 22-inch polished aluminum wheels, and remote-release powered tailgates.
In the U.S.A., the 1963 protectionist chicken tax distorted the light truck market in favor of American manufacturers, stopping the import of the Volkswagen Type 2, and effectively "squeezed smaller Asian truck companies out of the American pickup market." Over the intervening years, Detroit lobbied to protect the light-truck tariff, thereby reducing pressure on Detroit to introduce vehicles that polluted less and that offered increased fuel economy.
The US government's 1973 Corporate Average Fuel Economy 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 the SUV. 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, along with the Macho Power Wagon and Street Van. The gas guzzler tax, which taxed fuel-inefficient cars while exempting pickup trucks, further distorted the market in favour of pickups.
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. In the 1990s Pickups' market share was further eroded by the popularity of sport utility vehicles.
Popularity in North America vs. worldwide
Full size pickups are vehicles particularly adapted for the North American market. While the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States since 1982, they have a tiny market share outside North America. Full size pickups are somewhat rare in Europe where high fuel prices make them unattractive to other than enthusiasts.  In America pickups are favored by low fuel prices, taxes and regulations that distort the market in favor of domestically-built trucks, and a cultural attachment to the style.
Full-size pickups and SUVs are an important source of revenue for GM, Ford, and FCA's Ram, accounting for more than two-thirds of their global pre-tax earnings, though the vehicles make up just 16 percent of North American vehicle production. The vehicles have a high profit margin and a high price, with 40 per cent of Ford F-150 selling for 40,000 USD or more.
The NOx law prevents pickups from being imported to Japan, but the Japanese Domestic Market Mitsubishi Triton is available. In China (where it is known by the English loanword as 皮卡车 píkǎchē) the Great Wall Wingle is manufactured domestically and exported to Australia. In Thailand pickups manufactured for local sale and export include the Isuzu D-Max and the Mitsubishi Triton. In Latin and South America the Ford Ranger, VW Amarok, Dodge Ram, Chevrolet S-10, D-20, and Montana are sold.
Design and features
Pickups come in a wide variety of sizes, cab, and bed configurations.
In the US and Canada, nearly all pickups are sold with automatic transmissions. The Cummins diesel-equipped Ram is the only full-size truck available with a clutch. It has an ultra-low first-gear ratio for heavy hauling. While the Chevrolet Colorado, Nissan Frontier, and Toyota Tacoma are offered with a manual transmission, Ford offers no manual transmission pickups in North America.
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. A crew cab, or double cab, seats five or six and has two full-size front-hinged doors on both sides. Cab-over, or cab forward has the cab sitting above the front axle. An early cab-forward drop-side pickup was the Volkswagen Transporter, introduced in 1952. This configuration is more common among European and Japanese manufacturers than in North America, since the style allows a longer cargo area for the same overall length. The design was more popular in North America in the 1950s and '60s, examples including the Jeep Forward Control, Ford Econoline, Chevrolet Corvair, Rampside and Loadside pickups, and the Dodge A-100.
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. This is termed step-style or well body cargo. A drop-side bed has a flat tray with hinged panels rising up on the sides and the rear.
A pickup with four rear wheels instead of two is called a dually.
Vehicles similar to the pickup include:
- the coupé utility which has a pickup truck like shape, but is car-sized. The same is true for the South African term "bakkie".
- the sport utility truck (SUT), a vehicle deriving from an SUV or crossover with four doors and an open bed. Examples include the Cadillac Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Honda Ridgeline, Hummer H2 SUT, and SsangYong Actyon Sports.
In the American domestic market pickups are general categorized as:
- Compact: introduced in the United States in the 1960s, compact pickups have a smaller footprint, and may have four cylinder engines.
- Full-size, or half ton: In the United States the best selling type is the full-sized, or half-ton. These carry the designation "1500" in the case of the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram, and "150" in Ford's terminology.
- Heavy duty: Heavier-duty pickups are designated 2500, 3500 (or F-250, F-350) and so on.
The terms half-ton and three-quarter-ton are a remnant from a time when the number referred to the maximum cargo capacity by weight.
Uses for pickup trucks
While in America most pickup trucks are used primarily for passenger transport, pickups are also used in law enforcement, the military, fire services, and for Pickup truck racing, a form of auto racing using modified versions of pickups mostly on oval tracks. Race pickup trucks are mechanically similar to coupé-shaped stock cars.
A monster truck is a vehicle styled after pickup trucks, but with extremely large wheels and suspension. They are used for competition and popular sports entertainment and in some cases they are featured alongside motocross races, mud bogging, tractor pulls and car-eating robots.
Equipping pickup trucks with camper shells provides a small living space for camping. Slide-in truck campers, on the other hand, 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.
Pickups are often used by practitioners of rolling coal. This is the modification diesel engine, so that the vehicle can emit an under-aspirated visibly polluting sooty diesel exhaust. Vehicles emissions controls are modified in open defiance of environmental regulations. It also may include the intentional removal of the particulate filter Practitioners often additionally modify their vehicles by installing smoke switches and smoke stacks. Modifications to a vehicle to enable rolling coal may cost from $200 to $5,000.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pickup trucks.|
- "Pickup". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
- Mueller, Mike. The American Pickup Truck. p. 9.
- Porter, Bryan (2011). Handbook of Traffic Psychology. Elsevier. p. 222.
- Zuehlke, Jeffrey. Pickup Trucks. p. 9.
- Mueller, Mike. Classic Pickups of the 1950s.
- "Encyclopedia of American Coachbuilders & Coachbuilding". Coachbuilt. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
- "1918 to 1928 Dodge Brother Pickups". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "The History of Ford Pickups: The Model T Years 1925–1927". PickupTrucks.com. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- "Trucking Timeline: Vintage and Antique Truck Guide". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "The Ute - Australia Innovates". Powerhouse Museum. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- "Toyota Vehicle Identification Manual", Toyota Motor Corporation, Overseas Parts Department, Catalog No.97913-84, 1984, Japan
- "Ram history page on Allpar". Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- "Chevrolet Avalanche press release". Archived from the original on 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- Bradsher, Keith (November 30, 1997). "Light Trucks Increase Profits But Foul Air More than Cars". The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
- Hunting, Benjamin (March 10, 2009). "Global Vehicles and Thailand Argue Against 'Chicken Tax' On Imported Pickups". Autobytel.
- Brown, Warren (April 13, 2007). "Greenhouse Real Wheels". Washington Post. Retrieved June 22, 2007.
- Brown, Warren (August 29, 2004). "The Station Wagon Stealthily Returns". Washington Post. Retrieved June 22, 2007.
- "Auto sales reach six-year high of 15.6 million vehicles sold, Ford F-Series takes the lead". NY Daily News. 2014-01-06.
- "How Do Europeans View the Ford F-150 Pickup Truck?". Carscoops. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- Lienert, Paul. "Insight: Big trucks still rule Detroit in energy-conscious era". Reuters. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
- "Chinese Pickup Truck Sales, Led by Great Wall Wingle, Surged 48% to 378,000 Units in 2010". ChinaAutoWeb.com. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
- "Ram 3500". Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Inama, John. "Want a Pickup With Manual Transmission? Comprehensive List for 2015". Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- "Pickup truck buying guide". Consumer Reports. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- Abel, David (July 28, 2014). "Rules have diesel enthusiasts fuming". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
- Dahl, Melissa (July 24, 2014). "Why Pickup Truck Drivers Are Paying $5,000 to Pollute More". Science of Us. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
- Kulze, Elizabeth (June 16, 2014). ""Rollin' Coal" Is Pollution Porn for Dudes With Pickup Trucks". Vocativ. Retrieved July 30, 2014.