The Truck of Today: An Expression of Personality or Occupation
Trucks were borne out of necessity in the 1900s, with farmers and tradespeople transporting heavy loads and customizing their vehicles to transport various goods and merchandise. However, what was once seen as a vehicle for work has since evolved to become an expression of personality or occupation.
At one time, consumers searching for a refined or family-friendly vehicle might have looked to the latest sedans or SUVs to suit their lifestyle. Whereas, if they needed something for work purposes, they might have looked at a truck, but now the line is blurring.
This is particularly evident in the Middle East where trucks have become ships of the desert, taking people across the dunes with ease and comfort. Brands that manufacturer trucks, like GMC, have played such a pivotal role in the growth of the region over the last 91 years that they are seen as part of the culture and way of life in the GCC.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, American automotive companies began to expand their horizons and build trucks after becoming aware of the growing market for farmers and tradespeople that needed an easier way to transport heavy loads and unwieldy cargo.
Over time, an increasing number of automakers in the segment, trying to outdo their competition, creating trucks that were bigger, stronger, and more agile – a pattern that continues to this day. Today, the truck segment has grown exponentially – even overtaking midsize sedan sales in the first quarter of 2017 in the USA.
The saying ‘competition is healthy’ was especially true in the world of trucks in the 1930s as more companies entered the fray with new engineering developments designed to unseat the competition. Back then, trucks were powered by a V4 or V6 engine, before the game-changing V8 came into play with more power. Shortly afterwards, four-wheel drive meant that trucks could go almost anywhere and have greater carrying capacity with 2.3-meter or 2.7-meter beds for cargo.
With fierce competition in the segment, trucks became easier to drive with automatic transmission, independent front suspension, power brakes and steering. This allowed less experienced drivers to operate heavy-duty trucks that were able to haul up to 4,500 kilograms.
However, it wasn’t long before the truck attracted a new demographic: the urban driver. In the 1990s, the GMC Syclone was turbocharged and inter-cooled with a 4.8-liter, V6 engine and 280 horsepower. With full-time four-wheel drive and lowered suspension, the Syclone was not just agile, in 1991, it was the fastest production truck on the market. As the popularity of trucks continued to grow, they soon became a status symbol on the road.
Today, the adaptation and acceptance of the variety of available models and equipment, enables buyers to choose anything from a basic truck for people who continue to use it for work, a rugged off-roader for the adventurers, a four-door family hauler to feature laden models with all the same comforts as a luxury car.
Trucks have now become an extension of their driver and it has become the norm for once heavy-duty workhorses to never see a day of hard labor in their life-cycle. Their versatility often suits the lifestyles of the urban adventurers – those who will use them both as a daily commute to the office during the week but also for trips to the desert or beach on the weekend.
With this shift, manufacturers are once again competing to take this segment. Today’s premium built trucks – packed with advanced technologies and safety features come in a number of varieties and offer different size and seating configurations to suit a diverse range of customers’ needs.
For the more discerning driver, there is also a growing market for high specification trucks such as GMC’s Denali range, which offers luxuries to rival those seen in premium brand sedans or SUVs.
Modern trucks may have stepped things up in terms of their refinement, their statement-making design (as seen on the GMC Sierra) and they may have all the mod-cons of a premium cars, however, their workhorse origins and essence still hold true. They can still carry and haul as versatile, hard-working vehicles capable of taking on all terrains and road conditions. The ability to blur the lines between versatility, comfort and refinement that has evolved over the years, means that trucks are now more than ever, a status symbol and lifestyle choice with the power to speak volumes about the person behind the wheel.