American Men’s Love Affair With Trucks

It can be said in 2011 and indeed in the previous decade that American car manufactuers were not so much car makers but truck manufacturers. Trucks are in. They are “cool “with kids. They are the sports cars – the Ford Mustangs, and 1960’s “Muscle Cars” – the trendiest and desirable vehicles of our day bar none. Older owners like trucks both for their solidness, functionality and that being “king of the road” they feel safe in these large , imposing substantial vehicles. So much for little plastic Japanese style econo-boxes they say. Indeed it is surprising to look at actual auto industry sales and production numbers to note that truck sales dwarf the domestic North American car sales figures. Go figure as they say. The North American – US, Canadian and Mexican car companies should properly be called “truck companies” in 2011.

Yet it was not always that way that trucks in Winnipeg were so respected in the automotive marketplace. A truck was a truck, a utilitarian vehicle for work whereas a car was for people transport. Luxury vehicle were cars, never trucks. Indeed the American auto industry was able to keep this most profitable niche with such products as Chrysler Mini-van – Voyageurs , Caravans and the like , and Ford was able to command its most profitable product ever – the Ford Explorer SUV Sports Utility Vehicle almost exclusively as the dominant products in their respective market niches. It seemed that visiting Japanese management as well as those that called the shots back home at head office in Japan could not comprehend the logic. It made no sense to them. Who on earth would want, or pay for a truck when you could have a luxury vehicle of car they reasoned and rationalized. Diverting resources to trucking product development – especially luxury vehicles seemed lunacy and a passing fad at best. Hence the American auto industry soldiered , unencumbered for a given time period from relentless foreign competition in the auto industries , to morph into its present form of being predominantly not so much car makers but manufacturers of trucks and luxury expensive option laden SUVs.

For the General Motors Company the unveiling of their version of trucks was circa 1912. General Motors was not one single company in its formation but a conglomeration of various automotive manufacturers as the industry – and especially GM coalesced and consolidated. More often than not this is how budding industries grow from small operations started by individuals out of ideas borne in their creative minds, into a large industry with the “big boys’, which has both the financial and business clout to conduct, manage and finance such big scale ventures. One need only think of the computer industry with Steve Job’s garage and Mr. Packard & Hewlett tossing a coin to determine whose name came first in the company name sequence. Some of the pioneers do stick around, either because of business sense or original ideas. Most fall by the wayside as larger players enter the marketplace and either buy them out or the small timers find that either they cannot compete with the big boys , go to work for them , or just plain get bored. Regardless this is what occurred in the budding American auto industry in its early inception and development.

Indeed when GM attempted to expand its market and marketing solely out of this one rather limiting sales arena, it seemed that potential purchasers were not comfortable with purchasing these models. Some were even “intimidated” by them. In order to win the hears and minds of customers and potential truck purchasers GM planned and imitated many innovative , even wonderful publicity stunts in order to grow and improve sales into other market segments. One well like’s activity included a cross – country trip.

After the oil crisis of 1973 with shortages of gasoline for American drivers the more economical and fuel efficient Japanese cars had a toe-hold which only grew with time. Auto consumers depend on their vehicles for reliable transportation. Once stuck on a brand of car many are fiercely loyal. This is a two edged sword. Once confidence and brand loyalty is earned it is rather difficult to switch loyal auto buyers to another type of car. Yet GM reinvented itself as a company being essentially a truck, not car maker, selling trucks especially high end luxury trucks laden with options to consumers. In the business and marketing world this is called “reinventing a company”. V:15

The word “truck as in trucking and the transportation industry might have come from a back-formation of “truck as in trucking and the transportation industryle” with the meaning “small wheel”, “pulley”, from Middle English trokell, in turn from Latin trochlea. Yes the loneliness of the long distance trucker.Canadian truckers are folk legends.Another explanation is that it comes from Latin trochus with the meaning of “iron hoop”