Texas is truck country.
I just summed up this entire posting in one sentence. One very powerful sentence that I feel automotive manufactures need to always keep in mind.
I know many of you reading this may think I am nuts for considering that OEMs don't pay attention to Texas when it comes to trucks. They do usually pay attention to what is happening in Texas, and I doubt that the fact we Texans buy more trucks than any place else is totally lost on their marketing people.
So why is it that Toyota and Ford decided to show off their latest and greatest in cities outside of Texas? Ford released the Atlas pickup truck concept in Detroit with a huge splash, but can you imagine what the reaction would have been if they had decided to release the Atlas in Houston, Dallas or at the Texas State Fair?
To Ford's credit; Detroit makes a good bit of sense. The fact of the matter is that the Atlas is not a production truck. It is truly a one off concept truck. Yes they really have only built one! This is not a case of an OEM saying, "oh, we only have one," when in fact they have two or three. Detroit, being the biggest auto show in North America makes sense to release a concept where it will get the most industry attention. If the Atlas had been a production truck it would be a completely different story.
Now Toyota has ads that go out of their way to reinforce that their trucks are built in the Lone Star State. They are in fact built on the outskirts of San Antonio. So why did they release the 2014 Tundra at the Chicago Auto Show?
The "new" Tundra is not an entirely new truck. It is really just an update to the exterior and interior with no significant drive train, suspension or structural changes. Maybe Toyota picked to release the truck in Chicago because they didn't want to make too big of a deal out of it. Maybe they decided against revealing it last October at the Texas State Fair because they didn't have a completed version. No matter what the reasoning, at least Chicago makes more sense than New York. People in the Midwest do buy trucks, but they just don't buy trucks like we Texans buy trucks.
When General Motors released the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra in Detroit they showed it off to the media, but they didn't get to climb all over the truck. When they brought it to the Houston Auto Show they allowed us to climb all over the vehicles and I do mean all over. Even though GM showed them first in Detroit, before the North American International Auto Show was over, the Houston Auto Show had begun and their new trucks were in Houston on display.
I believe that it all comes down to that if an OEM wants to make a big splash with a new truck the best place to do that is Texas. We love our trucks in the Lone Star State. We use them for work and play. Trucks aren't just seen as automobiles they are a status symbol for many, and luxury cars for others.
After all, Texas is truck country.
Robert Edwards is a contributing writer to Victory & Reseda, based in the Houston area