Report: Toyota mulling a small, Ford Maverick-like pickup
Ford tentatively dipped a toe in the small truck market for the 2022 model year with the Maverick, a front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder vehicle whose soft rollout included little advertising.
The Maverick didn’t need the publicity. Buyer word of mouth and almost unanimously positive reviews made the truck a sellout almost immediately, and Ford still hasn’t caught up with the demand. Other manufacturers have noticed, and it seems likely imitators are coming.
From Toyota, perhaps. Automotive News asked dealers and Toyota management ahead of the national Toyota dealer meetings this week about a small, inexpensive pickup reminiscent of the Toyota Stout from the 1960s, which helped establish Toyota in the U.S. market.
Danny Wilson, dealer principal at Wilson Toyota of Ames in Iowa, former dealer council chairman, told Automotive News a unibody compact pickup would be a “great play on the heritage of Toyota.” Of course, its arrival would also give dealers another product to sell.
“We’ve obviously watched Maverick closely,” Toyota general manager Dave Christ told Automotive News. “If you think about our pickup trucks, they’ve gotten bigger over the years. You know, when you see in our lobby [at Toyota’s North American headquarters in Plano, Texas] we had a display of old and new—we had the original T100 next to the new Tundra—and it pretty much underscored how much bigger that product is today. And you can say the same for Tacoma, comparing it to the original Toyota pickup.”
Steve Gates, current chairman of the Toyota National Dealer Council, says he has been asking for a compact Toyota pickup since the early 2000s. And now that Gates has seen what the Maverick has done at his own Ford store, he’s even more convinced. “We’re absolutely sold out of Maverick, and we’re sold out as far as we can possibly see, and it hasn’t affected Ranger or F-150 one bit,” Gates said.
Automotive News speculates that a small truck could be built on the Corolla platform, likely made in the U.S. to avoid import taxes. “If you can find a way to build a higher fuel-efficiency pickup truck, that’s certainly something that helps with the regulatory need,” Christ said. “Could there be an opportunity there? I’m sure the market exists because Maverick’s done reasonably well.”
Reasonably well? That seems like an understatement. Maverick is essentially sold out, and commanding dealer premiums. Plus there’s the fact that it is an exceptionally well-done product. “It might not be a ‘real’ truck in the traditional sense, but this Maverick is definitely a first-rate low-price vehicle, with capabilities beyond that of the original Maverick or the previous-generation Rangers,” Hagerty wrote in a review of the 2022 model.
If it is coming, Toyota’s Maverick fighter is not imminent, Christ told Automotive News. “We don’t have anything planned,” Christ said. “We’re not announcing anything to the dealers. I won’t even say ‘yet’ because that would suggest it’s coming. But certainly, it’s something we’ve looked at.”