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Why automakers' claims of 'my truck pulls more than your truck' here to stay, for awhile at least


U.S. automakers have finally agreed on a uniform standard to determine the towing capacity of a pickup truck, veteran auto journalist Bill Visnic tells us in his article in Edmunds.com.

Except, now that they've created it, automakers are backing away from actually using it.

Visnic says engineers from Ford, Chrysler, GM and Toyota, along with the Society of Automotive Engineers, worked for several years to create the standard, which would replace the hodgepodge of standards currently in place.

The aim is to end a confusing, annual rite in which each automaker claims to be superior in towing. These claims are based on individual automakers' towing tests that, miraculously, "prove" their pickup truck can tow the heaviest load.

There's a lot at stake here, acknowledges Visnic. "Towing capacity for a pickup is sort of like horsepower for a sports car."

He says marketing folks at the automakers were none too happy about losing their bragging rights, even if the claims were based on an apples-to-oranges kind of comparison. 

"And so now you've got foot-dragging at each of the automakers that make pickup trucks, except Toyota, to comply with the standard that they themselves developed," he says.

Chrysler and GM say they won't adopt the standard until the segment leader, Ford Motor Company, does. Ford says it won't adopt it until the 2015 model of its iconic F-150 is launched.

That leaves Toyota alone in adopting the standard this year. Toyota's Tundra is a distant fourth in the U.S. pickup-truck sales war.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.