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TOW TOW TOW YOUR BOAT......trends in towing vehicles
When fishermen get together, we talk about boats, the hottest outboard motors, latest in fishing tackle and a buffet of other 'interesting' matters. In addition, because of the nature of my job, the subject of tow vehicles often comes up in conversation with fellow anglers, friends and readers.
Like many industries, the tow vehicle industry currently is also going through a transformation as consumers make strong demands on truck manufactures. We obviously expect products that can tote a heavy load but also do it with style, comfort and decent fuel economy. Towing vehicles is one subject where I do have some expertise as I have owned approximately fifteen full size trucks in the past twenty-five years and four in the last five years. Having driven that many different vehicles, I have seen and experienced much of the latest trends and innovations in this industry. It's pretty safe to say, in addition to boats, I also enjoy trucks
Included in the numerous trucks I have owned are full size SUVs, extended cab pick-ups as well as Chevrolet's Avalanche which is a little of both. I basically have had good service from most of these vehicles. Some performed better than others but all did a good job and towed my boats to various destinations with minimal problems. Chevy's and GMCs 2007 new truck design was a step forward for them. Their brakes, power train and stying all received good reviews.
NEW PLAYER IN FULL SIZE TRUCKS
According to Motor Trend Magazine, Toyota, already a leader in car manufacturing, has put GM, Ford, and Dodge on notice that they are also serious about gaining market shares in the full size truck arena. The SUV and full size truck markets have been very profitable for American automakers and GMC, Ford, Chevy and Dodge have dominated this market for many years. Worth noting is that Toyota recently built a new 1.3 billion dollar, state of the art, manufacturing facility in the heart of truck country, San Antonio, TX to produce their new Tundra.
With Tundra, Toyota is targeting users who have traditionally driven full size trucks produced by The Big Three automakers. An interesting side note is that the Big Three American Automakers are not exactly the same since Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth was purchased in 1998 by Daimler-Benz which is based in Germany. The latest news, according to CNNmoney.com, is that several months ago Daimler sold all but 20% of its share in Chrysler to Cerberus which is a mega investment firm. Cerberus has also aquired a 51% share of GMAC which is the financil unit of General Motors.
TRUCK BUILDING HEADED SOUTH
The trend is to build in the south as labor costs are less than half, according to industry sources. Hourly wage/benefits in the south being $15-20 per hour whereas costs in Detroit and New York run near $45 . An example, since 1997 Alabama went from making 0 vehicles to building over 600,000 annually in 2006 as several auto companies have located in Bama employing over 35,000 workers. Nissan builds its full size Titan next door in Canton, Mississippi which is a northern suburb of Jackson. Similarly, low labor costs and a strong labor pool were influential in Toyota's locating its new Tundra plant in San Antonio.
According to industry insiders, Toyota did their homework and surveyed large numbers of fishermen, hunters, contractors, ranchers and farmers to describe their dream truck. They then hired engineers/designers, both American and Japanese, with the task to build the ultimate truck. Did they succeed? No vehicle is without limitations but the Tundra is impressive.
I first heard about the Tundra when car shopping for the wife a new vehicle during summer 2006 at Lake Charles Toyota. The sales person was non other than Randy Derouen, who many anglers will remember from his long tenure at Lake Area Marine in Lake Charles. Lake Area Marine gave me my first boat sponsorship. Derouen, who has pulled his share of trailers, informed me of Toyota's plans to build a full size truck which would have more standard horsepower and higher tow rating than any half ton truck in the industry. As a truck lover, I became very interested and followed Tundra's production trail through the internet and industry magazines which basically resulted in me becoming an owner.
I have the Tundra SR5 model (mid-level package) with a 5.7 liter, six speed automatic, 381 horse power, 401 pound of towing torque with 10,800 pound tow rating. This high tech engine is available in several standard models, not just the elite packages and 18 inch tires are standard on all Tundras. Surprisingly, it is not a gas guzzler as I am getting between 12 -13 mpg pulling my big Skeeter but have not tested it without towing as it is usually attached to my boat. It is rated 16 mpg city with 20 highway. The 4- wheel anti-lock brakes and towing equipment are heavy duty and built to pull and stop a heavy load. It is a very spacious, well made half-ton truck.
As outdoor sportsmen in the US, we have multiple high quality tow vehicles to choose from and with Toyota's new Tundra and Nissan's Titan, the selection pool has expanded. A truck purchase is an important event for consumers as we use our vehicles to perform a wide variety of tasks. To compare how all of the major brands/models of tow vehicles stack up against each other go to Trailer Life Magazine or other similar publications for tow ratings. To compare apples to apples, rate half-tons vs. half-tons, three-quarter tons vs three-quarter tons and so on. Trailer Life Magazine is the leading publication for RV and trailer users. You can also simply Google Tow Vehicle Ratings.
Be safe when towing and allow extra space between you and the vehicle you are following, especially when towing on wet roads. Also, check brakes often and keep them well maintained so you will arrive safely at your favorite fishing hole. Enough of this computer.....time to get hitched!
Joe Joslin Outdoors
Copyright © 2007 by Joe Joslin Outdoors, DeRidder, LA 70634