TALK SHOP: Truck Trends with Steve Robinson of ReadyLIFT

Q: What does ReadyLIFT see as some of the biggest trends in the mid-size truck market?
A: The biggest trend may be expansion in general. You see brands like GM coming back strong to a category really owned by Toyota as of late. RAM (supposedly) is jumping back in and Ford is talking about a new Ranger. What may have started as a fuel-saving option is a growing category for sure.

Q: Do you think the mid-size truck market has made enough changes to its vehicle platforms to survive another economic downturn?
A: Yeah, I think so. Fuel economy, affordability, versatility, etc. I mean, again, it’s a segment owned by Toyota for quite some time (Although during its heyday, Ford Ranger sales blew the Toyota Tacoma out of the water.) The US manufacturers haven’t really embraced the category, failing to go all in on the mid-size trucks. I think they need to take a hard look in the mirror on these smaller pickups. You really shouldn’t be pricing them at the same levels as a full-sized trucks. I believe that’s always been the problem and why US producers seem to jump in and out of the segment.

Q: What’s ReadyLIFT’s most popular mid-size truck application?
A: You’d automatically think Tacoma, right? But it’s not! Our Frontier/Xterra small lift kits are, possibly because we are one of the few that make something for these models. It’s a great-selling kit at an attractive price. The kit makes the vehicle sit right and look good with a set of upgraded tires and wheels.

Q: Car and Driver poked at discussions of FIAT releasing a RAM Rampage model that would replace the Dakota. We saw a review in May of last year and then poof, nothing more was said. Being an industry professional, have you heard anything more about this? Any expectations that Dodge/RAM is going to make a move to do something with the Dakota line up?
A: That’s the same thing we all heard but nothing more that we know of yet. However, this is usually how it goes. It’s the OE’s way of testing the market and gauging consumer interest. I think it’ll happen because consumers like more competition in each segment.

Q: The 2017 Honda Ridgeline: Some impressive features but certainly outside the box in terms of traditional domestic truck preferences. What does the Honda Ridgeline need to do in order to garner additional support? Do you foresee it becoming a contender and does it have the ability to change the landscape of what we consider the mid-size truck market? What does ReadyLIFT have in the works for this vehicle model?
A: We’ll probably produce a small leveling kit/lift kit for the new Honda Ridgeline, as we’re taking a lot of inquiries about it. Honda has a following, no doubt, so there will always be people who will purchase based on loyalty. (As for making a splash among the giants, we’ll have to wait and see.)

Q: The 2016 Titan XD: A sharp full-size truck with good looking features, but still relatively small sales in comparison to the Big Three that own this space. What’s the future look like for the Nissan Titan? What does ReadyLIFT have lined up for this model? What do you believe are the Titan’s best features and does it have enough gumption to take on big guys like Ford, Chevy and Dodge?
A: It’s a great new truck. We noticed that sales started out a little slow, but gained momentum quickly. The reaction to the new diesel motor is strong. Some of those die hard diesel consumers are switching over to it! We feel like it will carve out its own space as an in-between option. It’s a little heartier than your standard half-ton model and boasts better fuel economy than a three-quarter ton. We’ll have a leveling kit, small lift kit and a large lift kit to complete our offerings for this vehicle.

Q: What kinds of cool things can we expect from team ReadyLIFT in 2017?
A: In the coming year, we’ll be releasing kits for the new RAM 1500 and 2017 Ford Super Duty with a complete line of leveling, several small lift options and some mega options. We’re focusing efforts on rounding out our line of quality products and filling in some holes where necessary. We just came out with a mid-sized (3.5”) kit for the F150, as well as a 6” and 8” kit for the Toyota Tundra. Next will be a 6”-7” kit for the RAM 1500 and a couple of new kits for the Toyota Tacoma. Our company acquired AMI Styling in 2016, so we’re working together to promote a new line of tow and recovery products for Jeep® manufactured right here in the USA.

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