Abandoned '09 deal will be used for '15 pickups

Detroit 3 adopt common standard for tow ratings

Abandoned '09 deal will be used for '15 pickups

Ford said it would delay using the standard until this 2015 F-150 goes on the market this year.
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DETROIT -- After a two-year delay, the Detroit 3 say they will use a common standard to rate the towing capacities of their light-duty pickups.

The standard will allow shoppers to compare accurately the towing capability of pickups. It also should reduce confusing claims from automakers.

The marketing confusion won't end, though, because the standard applies only to light-duty pickups. For heavy-duty pickups, automakers will still rate their vehicles with their own standards.

Spokesmen for Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group confirmed last week that they will join Toyota in using a towing standard adopted by the industry in 2009 to rate 2015-model full-sized light-duty pickups. A spokesman for General Motors said it, too, will adopt the standard if its competitors do.

The standard establishes various tests for towing.

Under the automakers' 2009 agreement, the standard -- which is likely to reduce rated towing capacities by several hundred pounds -- was to be in place for the 2013 model year. But Ford decided not to publish lower tow ratings for its 2013 F-150, spurring other automakers to follow suit.

Toyota was the only pickup maker to adopt the standard, called SAE J2807, and it did so two years early for the 2011 model year when it dropped the tow ratings for its full-sized Tundra pickup by 400 pounds.

Nissan says it adopts the standard on vehicles when they are redesigned, as it did for the 2013 Pathfinder. A redesigned Titan is due in 2015.

Ford surprised competitors in 2012 when it decided not to adopt the towing standard for the 2013 model year and said it would wait for the 2015 F-150 redesign. This caused GM -- which was preparing to roll out its redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duties -- to pull back marketing materials and even reprint owners' manuals.

Mike Levine, a spokesman for Ford, told Automotive News that the 2015 F-150 will get a new towing rating to go with its new aluminum body.

"As a founding member of the SAE trailer towing committee, we will meet SAE trailer towing standards," he said.

Tom Wilkinson, a GM spokes-man, said that "when the other two major manufacturers move, we will move at that time." Wilkinson said GM already knows how the standard will change the Silverado and Sierra's stated towing capacities.

"We already validate the trucks to [the J2807 standard]. It's just a matter of adjusting the numbers," Wilkinson said.

A spokesman for Ram also said that it would list towing capabilities for its 2015-model pickups to comply with the standard.

In a written statement, a Toyota spokesman said the company is glad to have company in complying with the standard.

"This will be most beneficial for customers, as previous methodologies created by individual manufacturers made it difficult for customers to compare tow ratings on an apples-to-apples basis," the statement said. "Toyota was always a firm believer in an industrywide standard, as evidenced by our adopting SAE J2807 back in 2011 and being the only manufacturer to adopt it until now."

You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at lvellequette@crain.com.


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