Truck makers continue to cater to the contractor’s needs, making it easier to work in the field and use the truck as another tool of their business. That’s because truck makers know their small-business customers have a mixed use for their products. Without extra cash to spend on several vehicles, more and more contractors use their vehicle as a combination of a family weekend vehicle as well as a week-day work vehicle.
“As our personal-use truck market has dropped off, we now see people are wanting a really nice truck for themselves they can also use for work,” says Nataé Rayner, Toyota Tundra product marketing manager. “So we are actually getting a lot of commercial business from small-business owners who are ordering our double-cab and crew max configurations, still making them look very nice for personal use, but using them to tow equipment and materials from place to place. It’s a combination of work and personal use coming together as one.”
Solutions and Packages
Since the mobile office has been around for a while now, last year Ford introduced its Ford Work Solutions on the Ford F-150 and the Super Duty. This product has been enhanced for the 2011 model year that launches next month with four different elements to the package. The first element is an automotive grade, in-dash computer. Designed to function in different types of environments a work truck might go into, the computer also contains Bluetooth connectivity, both a touchscreen and wireless keyboard, a navigation system, and the ability to access a desktop back at the office to make changes to an invoice and print it right in the truck.
The second of four features is Tool Link. This uses RFD technology to bar code each tool. If the tool is not within the box of the truck, the receiver will not pick it up. Once a driver hops into the cab and punches up the inventory list, it will immediately tell the driver if all the tools are in the truck and, if not, which ones are missing.
“It’s all about maximizing their time on the job, and the truck is obviously as big part of that as a tool in the remodeling toolbox,” says Brian Rathsburg, F-Series Super Duty marketing manager for Ford. “A lot of these guys are in their trucks all day long. It’s their mobile office, so it’s got to be comfortable and accessible. That’s where the Ford Work Solutions becomes a terrific feature for the contractor.”
The third feature of the Ford Work Solutions is called Crew Chief, which is more for a larger remodeler that has several people out in the field. It’s basically an onboard device that allows one truck to keep track of where all the other vehicles are. It tracks vehicle location and other key data such as excessive speed, fuel consumption, idle time, driver performance and more. This information is accessible through any computer because the program is Web based.
The final element is called Cable Lock which is attached to the side of the box. It allows a remodeler to run a cable through all of their tools and it’s basically like a very robust, fancy bike lock. This solution is designed to keep things safe when leaving the jobsite or securing them overnight.
Enhancements to Nissan’s Titan for the 2010 model year include revised equipment packages and content — including a new SE Value Truck Package with cloth captain’s chairs, tow hitch, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, fog lights and more. Other key 2010 enhancements include the addition of standard side and curtain supplemental air bags, Vehicle Dynamic Control and standard Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS) on all models and two new exterior colors — Blue Steel and Navy Blue.
Toyota has separated its truck solutions into four different packages. The higher level packages are the Platinum and Limited Grades. The Limited includes leather seats, upgraded audio systems and 18-in. fully chromed alloy wheels, while Platinum adds a memory seat functions, DVD navigation system, backup camera, perforated leather and wood style interior trim.