(CBS Detroit) — The new Ford Maverick is far from your dad’s Ford Maverick. And depending on your generation, that might be a good thing. The just-announced compact hybrid pickup truck could change the automotive market when it becomes available this fall.
The Maverick was once a compact two-door and four-door sedan. (Ford now no longer even sells sedans in America.) Marketed in the 1970s, it was basically an economical sports coupe, managing a thrifty 22 miles to the gallon in the days of the energy crisis. The six-cylinder carried an initial price tag of $1,995. That translates to about $14,000 in today’s dollars.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You Get Another Relief Payment?
The new Maverick is also budget-friendly, and environmentally friendly to boot. Ford revealed the latest — and smallest — entry in its truck lineup last week. As CBS News’ transportation correspondent Errol Barnett explains, “the F-150 reigns supreme, top-selling truck in America, top-selling vehicle in America for decades. And Ford just electrified that with the Lightning version. The Ranger is Ford’s second-best-selling truck right now. And so the idea for Ford is to not compete with itself, and really create an entry-level offering for those who either cannot afford or don’t need one of these supercharged large trucks, which are much more expensive.”
The Maverick, a four-door pickup, which seats five people, comes with a full-hybrid powertrain. It’s the first truck ever to have a hybrid engine that’s standard. The engine is strong enough to haul 1,500 pounds or tow 2,000 pounds, though it is only front-wheel drive. The Maverick also comes with a unique interior design, plenty of storage space, an eight-inch touchscreen and automatic forward-collision braking. Mileage is estimated to be around 40 miles to the gallon in the city, allowing up to 500 miles on one tank of gas. All of that comes at a base price of just under $20,000.
“Ford is hoping to allow this truck to be its own category,” says Barnett. “There really isn’t much competition in the small truck division of vehicles. It’s smaller than Ford’s midsize Ranger, but really it’s in a class of its own. It’s smaller than the Toyota Tacoma. There is another manufacturer, Hyundai Motor Group, which is releasing its own small truck, called the Santa Cruz. So the industry appears to be testing out in the U.S. the appeal of these smaller trucks, which has very popular older cousins, in the Ford F-150 and the Ford Ranger, testing to see if this is something consumers really want.”
‘Maverick Challenges The Status Quo, Stereotypes Of What A Pickup Truck Can Be’
Ford calls it “the truck for people who never knew they wanted a truck.” And it’s no surprise that the company thinks its latest vehicle can have potentially broad appeal. With the unique combination of features and versatility at the entry-level price point, the Maverick seems like a bid to expand the truck market. The hauling and towing capabilities could interest those who feel themselves being priced out of the market for a midsize truck. (Base-level pricing for the Ranger, Ford’s next model up, starts around $25,000.) The gas mileage, comfort and usefulness may attract those who live in an urban setting and might otherwise choose a crossover or sedan. And the low price may be attractive to entry-level buyers.READ MORE: Child Tax Credit: When Will You Get Your First Check?
“One analyst group called LMC estimates that Ford will sell roughly 40,000 to 50,000 of these trucks per year if — and it’s a big if — it resonates with audiences,” notes Barnett. “What’s interesting is Ford is calling upon the award-winning actress Gabrielle Union to promote this vehicle. Ford is touting that it’s the first vehicle to debut on its U.S. TikTok channel. So that kind of gives you a sense that this is a truck for younger people. It is trying to appeal to people who don’t have as much money to spend.”
“Maverick challenges the status quo and the stereotypes of what a pickup truck can be,” according to Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager. “We believe it will be compelling to a lot of people who never before considered a truck.”
Given the current state of the automotive industry, any vehicle in a consumer’s price range may be compelling. Semiconductor chip shortages are preventing Ford and the rest of the industry from manufacturing at capacity. So car dealers lack inventory. Used cars are selling at a premium due to shortages stemming from the pandemic.
Ford has indicated that the Maverick will be available this fall. But it hasn’t set an exact date. Industry and broader economic turmoil may have something to do with that. Should the market normalize, Ford’s new Maverick may be able to change the truck landscape.MORE NEWS: Child Tax Credit: How Much Will Your Monthly Check Be?
As Barnett points out, “it has a lower price point than many other trucks on the market. It has this hybrid capability, which is showing a nod toward climate change and the use of fossil fuels. And it has relatively little competition. So if Ford could strike the right note on those three points with customers, it will effectively own this category, in a way that other manufacturers just aren’t doing right now.”