Full-Size Truck Wars Heating Up

The best-selling Ford F-150 continues to dominate the full-size truck segment, recording 214,191 sales in the first three months of 2019, compared to 214,611 in the same period last year, an increase of 0.2 percent. Meanwhile, its top two competitors, the Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500 and Classic, are battling for the number-two spot.

According to the latest figures, first-quarter sales of the 2019 Ram 1500 and Classic accounted for 120,026 trucks versus 114,383 Silverados. Silverado is historically the Number-2 vehicle. On the bright side, the full-size pickup segment, which also includes the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan, is growing at about 2 percent annually.

“It’s like they’re in the middle of a barroom brawl,” stated Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book. “Ford is looking across the aisle, with Chevy Silverado getting hammered by Ram, and they’re like, ‘We’re over here happy as clam.’”

The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling full-size pickup since 1977, a total of 42 consecutive years, and the best-selling vehicle overall for 37 years.

Mike’s Car Wash Named Best Ohio Employer

Mike’s Car Wash has been named one of the best employers in Ohio for the sixth consecutive time.  The Loveland-based company, which employs more than 500 team members, operates 13 wash locations across Cincinnati and Dayton, and 24 wash locations in all.

The statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best place of employment in Ohio to benefit the state’s economy, workforce and businesses. This year’s best-employer list included 41 companies.

“We are thrilled to have been recognized as one of the Best Employers in Ohio for the sixth year in a row,” said COO Ty Dubay. “Each year we receive this distinguished award, it reassures us that we are continuing to hold true to Mike’s tradition of creating a positive, fun and friendly work environment.  We attribute our continued success to our dedicated and talented team members, as we know that they are the most important part of our business.”

GM to Introduce Industry-First Carbon Fiber Truck Bed

Auto makers struggle to take every ounce of weight out of a vehicle. First came the aluminum truck bed for the F-150. Now GM is introducing its own innovation—an industry-first carbon fiber truck bed that will cut 60 pounds from the GMC Sierra.

According to General Motors, the CarbonPro bed replaces the standard inner steel panels and floor with carbon fiber. It is said to be dent, scratch and corrosion resistant. GM also claims the CarbonPRO bed is stronger and more durable than steel, will eliminate the need for a spray-in bedliner to protect the bed from rust and dents (a loss for the aftermarket), and increases cargo room by a cubic foot.

The optional CarbonPro bed is slated to arrive in limited volume at dealerships in June on the Sierra Denali 1500 and the Sierra AT4 1500 models. GM is ramping up production slowly and expects to have greater availability of the innovative bed in the 2020 model year

GM’s industry-first carbon fiber truck bed, the CarbonPro, will make its debut on the Sierra Denali 1500 and Sierra AT4 1500 in June.

Nostalgia on Parade at Classic Auto Show

On a sunny Southern California weekend in March, throngs of car lovers flocked to the Orange County Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa for the third annual Classic Auto Show. And they were not to be disappointed.

As far as the eye could see and beyond, the fairgrounds were filled with 2,000-plus vehicles of every marque and vintage, from antiques and street rods to imports, customs and everything in between. Included among the displays were vehicles from several local car clubs, plus others from the collections of five area museums—the Petersen Museum, San Diego Automotive Museum, Automobile Driving Museum, California Automobile Museum and the NHRA Motorsports Museum.

But the show had more to offer than just eye candy. There were live product demos on rust repair and body-filler techniques at the Restoration Station. At the Auto Detail Studio, which featured the Meguiar’s rig, company experts shared application tips and tactics. Another highlight was Women ’n Wheels, a lively two-day panel discussion with such leading ladies of motorsports as Linda Vaughn, Jessi Combs, Bogi Lateiner, Tegan Hammond and Lyn St. James.

Madico Enhances Installer Support Services

Window film maker Madico has introduced a new campaign featuring installer support programs, a dealer portal and educational initiatives. According to the company, the campaign, dubbed the New Madico Experience, features a redesigned website dedicated to strengthening window film dealers’ success through programs aimed at sharing industry knowledge, teaching new sales strategies as well as best practices for growth.

The new Madico Dealer Portal provides access to Madico products and sales support, along with a resource for current and prospective customers. A new e-commerce section of the site is due out this summer. Madico U, a new educational initiative, will be the cornerstone of the Madico Experience. The program combines online and in-person learning through videos, conferences, webinars and more. To learn more about the New Madico Experience, visit www.madico.com.

Jeep Gladiator Stands Out From The Crowd

The much-anticipated Jeep® Gladiator is poised to battle its way to the top of the hot-selling truck market. But it’s unlike any other truck—or Jeep, for that matter—on the market.

A modern-day twist on a classic, the Gladiator is not a traditional pickup. For starters, it has removable doors, a removable hardtop, fold-down windshield—and best of all for serious Jeep enthusiasts on or off-road—it comes standard with a manual transmission. Virtually unheard of today. “There’s nothing like it out there,” said TrueCar analyst Eric Lyman. “A lot of people are going to look at it and say, ‘Wow, that’s the coolest truck I’ve ever seen.’”

The all-new rugged-looking Gladiator Rubicon edition sports a removable hardtop, removable doors, fold-down windshield, sporty custom-embroidered leather seating and an ever-so-rare manual transmission.

Survey Says Gen-Xers, Millennials Embrace Classic Car World

According to Hagerty, the world’s leading collector car insurance company, Gen-Xers and millennials are as passionate, if not more so, about collectible vehicles than older generations. Last year, for instance, a Hagerty survey indicated that 78 percent of Gen-Xers and 81 percent of millennials “like, love or are passionate about” driving, versus 79 percent of Baby Boomers.

Last year’s figures also showed that more Gen-Xers and millennials sought vehicle values via Hagerty’s Valuation Tools and classic vehicle insurance quotes more often than Baby Boomers or pre-boomers by a roughly 53 – 47 percent margin. Given current trends, millennials, who comprise the nation’s largest generation, are predicted to become the hobby’s single largest group within five years.

“This shift was inevitable given the combined size of these generations,” noted CEO McKeel Hagerty. “We say, ‘welcome to the club.’ It’s great to see that younger generations are just as crazy about cars as their parents and grandparents.”

Gen-Xers and millennials are increasingly enamored of classic cars and trucks, with ’60s Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes and just about anything else from that era topping the list.

So what vehicles appeal to the younger generations? At the top of the list is the, ’65-’66 Mustang, along with Camaros, Corvettes and just about anything built in the late 1960s. Vintage pickup trucks are especially popular, as they offer both affordable transportation and an affordable way into the hobby. American nameplates are by far the most popular across all generations, with millennials leaning toward Japanese imports.  To foster love across generations, Hagerty recently launched a members-only Hagerty’s Drivers Club, the largest community of car enthusiasts, which offers access to events, discounts, services and magazine. www.hagerty.com.

Vintage pickups are moving up the list in popularity, appealing to younger enthusiasts looking for a more affordable way to engage in the collector car hobby.

Truck Hero Expands Footprint, Acquires Lund International

Truck Hero’s already substantial collection of companies in the vehicle-accessory market has just grown significantly larger with the acquisition of Lund International Holding Company (aka Lund), a portfolio company of Highlander Partners. The transaction represents Truck Hero’s fifteenth acquisition since its formation in 2007.

Buford, Georgia-based Lund is a leading manufacturer and marketer of accessories for passenger cars, light trucks, CUVs, SUVs and Jeeps, as well as the heavy-truck category, from such brand names as AMP Research, Belmor, Bushwacker, Lund, Rampage Products, Roll-N-Lock, Stampede Automotive Accessories and TonnoPro, among others.

Truck Hero, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provides a full range of truck-bed covers and other truck and Jeep® accessories, including hard and soft tonneau covers, truck caps, bedliners, floor liners, side steps, suspension kits, Jeep parts and off-road accessories. The company’s family of brands includes A.R.E., BAK, BedRug, Extang, Husky Liners, N-FAB, Omix-ADA, Retrax, Rugged Liner, Rugged Ridge, Superlift, TruXedo, UnderCover, e-tailer RealTruck, and the recently acquired BACKRACK.

“This is an opportune time to bring Truck Hero and Lund together,” said Bill Reminder, president and CEO of Truck Hero. “Mitch Fogle and the entire Lund team have built an impressive collection of great companies which will be a perfect match to Truck Hero. We look forward to working with Mitch and his team to leverage our combined capabilities to further build the company’s position as the foremost source for automotive aftermarket accessories.”

ColorBond Revamps Website To Improve Paint Selection Process

When ColorBond learned its paint color-selection page was displaying poorly on mobile devices, it set to work on a user-friendly website improvement plan. According to the company, the improvements are aimed at making it easier for customers to choose ColorBond’s car restoration paint products and order using their mobile devices, such as tablets and cell phones. Navigation on PCs was improved as well.

“As this is our most viewed page, we determined it was time to update the ColorBond website,” said Dennis Miller, web developer. “We constantly review what our customers need and found the user-friendliness of the website was becoming an issue when viewed on mobile devices. We need a responsive website that was mobile as well as desktop friendly.

“The new website was designed to improve the customer experience,” he added. “It’s now more convenient for people to shop with their phone. We want the ColorBond website to perform as well as ColorBond car restoration paint products.”

Surf City To Host 34th Annual Concours d’Elegance

Huntington Beach, better known as Surf City USA, will host the 34th Annual Concours d’Elegance the weekend of June 1 – 2 at Huntington Beach Central Park.  The popular Southern California event will feature the Rod & Custom Show on Saturday and the Concours on Sunday. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Children’s Resource Center at the Huntington Beach Library.

In addition to thousands of vintage, classic and modern automobiles and motorcycles spanning nearly every era, the two-day event will include live entertainment, Hot Wheels racing, a salute to Pony cars, vintage ‘Z’ cars and vintage motorcycles, capped off with an awards ceremony.

Other highlights include two new events: the Rolls Royce and Bentley Drivers Club of Southern California’s annual National Points Meet, and the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project affiliated with the California Air Resources Board. CARB will display an electric vehicle and provide electric vehicles from five different manufacturers for free test drives on Sunday. www.hbconcours.org.

The expansive grounds of Huntington Beach Central Park provide an idyllic setting for the 34th Annual Concours d’Elegance.

Maserati Reveals NBA Champion Ray Allen’s Custom-Crafted Levante

Just as Ray Allen was a star on the basketball court, his one-of-a-kind personalized Maserati Levante radiated star power at the recent New York International Auto Show. The latest creation of Maserati’s ONE OF ONE customization program, Allen’s Levante GTS SUV was inspired by the city of Miami.

The Centro Stile Maserati worked alongside Allen to configure the vehicle based on a broad concept to capture his love of Miami, his victories and personal history. The special Maserati features “Blu-Astro” tri-coat exterior paint, inspired by the astral blue color of the galaxy, but also the colors of Miami, along with carbon fiber details on the side mirror covers and door handles.  Other exterior enhancements include a dark chrome finish on air vent covers, grille, exhaust tips and badging as well as 22-inch diamond rims that sport a deep dark chrome tint, while brake calipers are finished in the same matte Blu-Astro paint.

Interior upgrades abound, with the instrument panel, center console, door panels and seats inspired by blue denim and the leather seats aniline-dyed in a special blue denim color. Carbon fiber trim throughout is characterized by blue thread woven into the structure to evoke the Miami cityscape and the ocean. Other features include specially designed floor mats and Allen’s signature embroidered behind the driver’s headrest so it can be viewed by passengers.

Blue on blue. Two-time NBA Champ Ray Allen poses with his ONE OF ONE personalized Maserati Levante GTS SUV at the New York International Auto Show.

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