The relationship between a remodeler and his or her truck is complex. On the one hand, the vehicle is supposed to be a work truck, a practical vehicle. On the other, like other tools, a person’s truck reflects his or her professional status. To outsiders, it also conveys an image of the business it represents. Parked at a jobsite or lumberyard, it’s a moveable billboard or an eyesore.
“Pickup trucks are a staple for remodelers,” says Richard Miller, regional product manager, trucks and SUVs, product planning, with Franklin, Tenn.-based Nissan North America, although he allows that remodelers in regions that get a lot of rain or inclement weather tend to gravitate toward vans.
“When we look at what [remodelers are] looking for in a vehicle, it’s an extension of their own personality, but also an extension of their company,” Miller says of the focus groups Nissan has conducted. “They want it to look professional, but they also want it to look like it’s capable and individual. Customers will put on their own custom wheels, or they might do a paint job or a wrap.”
For a segment of the pickup market, the truck is a dual-use vehicle, serving a business and personal function. “[Those buyers] don’t have the luxury of having a truck dedicated just for work and another for time off. It’s all the same vehicle; this truck has to meet both needs,” Miller says.
In addition, Miller says: “One of the top purchase reasons is the quality of the vehicle. They’re going to use it very hard; they’re going to put a lot of payload in it or they’re going to tow trailers, so they want them to last a long time. They don’t have the luxury of buying a new one every two or three years.
“[Those buyers] are looking for a dual-use truck they can personalize, giving it a more professional and rugged appearance, and they want quality, durability and reliability,” Miller sums.
“Like most commercial customers, contractors are buying a tool that needs to do a job and deliver a return on their investment. Smart buyers are looking beyond the purchase price to consider all the factors that will affect that return: purchase price, resale, fuel efficiency, repair costs, maintenance costs, fees, taxes, insurance, etc.,” says Dan Tigges, product manager for full-size trucks, GM Fleet and Commercial Operations, Warren, Mich.
Towing and Payload
Towing and payload are important considerations, too. Remodelers who use their trucks for personal transportation in addition to moving material will often have a trailer, Miller says. “They can unhook the trailer, take their truck and go,” he says.
“They always want to have reserve towing capacity,” Miller says. “They may have a 9,000-pound trailer, but they’re not comfortable with a half-ton truck with 10,000-pound towing capacity. They’d rather go with a three-quarter-ton vehicle that can tow 14,000 pounds just in case they need the reserve,” he explains.
Payload is a similar story, he continues. “Contractors don’t want to max out the vehicle and show up at the jobsite looking like they’ve overloaded the truck; it just doesn’t look professional.”
GM’s Tigges cautions that remodelers in the market for a new truck look carefully at towing and payload standards when making a buying decision. Old rules of thumb may not be accurate. “For years, each vehicle manufacturer used their own standards to come up with trailer ratings. For the 2013 model year, original equipment manufacturers worked with the Society of Automotive Engineers to create common standards under SAE J2807 [Performance Requirements for Determining Tow-Vehicle Gross Combination Weight Rating and Trailer Weight Rating]. These new standards reflect real-world conditions and establish a common formula and performance criteria that each vehicle must meet, which will allow for a true apples-to-apples comparison,” he says.