Remember when trucks were simple – and inexpensive?
They still are both – just not here. And ironically, they are built by the same company that will only sell you an expensive and complicated one, here.
Here, it will sell you a Chevy Colorado for $25,200 to start. This is the least expensive new truck GM sells in the United States. In China, GM sells a truck called the Zhengtu that starts at just over $9,000 through its Wuling subsidiary.
This truck would probably be of interest to many Americans – and not just because it costs less than half as much as the least expensive truck GM will sell you here. It has features you cannot get in any truck sold here – such as hinged, outward folding-flat bed walls that turn a compact-sized bed into a bed that can carry a full-sized truck load.
To get something equivalently spacious here, you’d have to buy a full-sized truck like the Chevy Silverado 1500 – and that one stickers for $28,600 to start. Even then, its bed isn’t as wide – or not, as you prefer, like the Zhengtu’s modular bed.
It’s just very expensive.
Because, of course, it has to be. Uncle will not allow such things as bed walls that fold outward – it’s not saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe! In fact, all it is is non-compliant with current federal folderol, such as bumper/side-impact/rollover standards and so on – per my recent article on the subject.
Same goes for the Zhengtu’s only having two air bags and lacking “advanced” safety “assistance” technology – which just means expensive electronically controlled idiot-proofing that you don’t need if you’re not an idiot. Things like Lane Keep Assist – an “advanced” technology intended to counteract not-paying-attention driving, which also annoys those who are paying attention but who don’t always flip the turn signal switch when making a lane change – which is unnecessary when no other traffic is present – by attempting to countersteer the vehicle back into the lane the driver is trying to leave because it thinks the vehicle is wandering off course.
And Brake Assist – which applies the brakes when the system decides you’re getting too close to another car or obstruction in the road – which an attentive driver is well-aware of and ready to brake if it should become necessary.
It often isn’t – as in the case of the stopped car up ahead with its turn signal on that is moving off the road. The driver can see that it won’t be there by the time he reaches that spot and so merely prepares to brake – just in case. The system cannot divine the fact that the “object” won’t be there anymore by the time the vehicle reaches the spot and so “assists” by applying the brakes unnecessarily and flashing lights to “alert” the attentive driver to what he already knows won’t be there.
The Zhengtu lacks such features. Also the gnomesayin’ super-sized “rims” (17 inches and taller, usually) that afflict almost every new vehicle and which add substantially to the cost of tires that size.
The Zhengtu has little wheels – and takes cheap tires.
It does not lack air conditioning and even has a touchscreen infotainment system; it also comes standard with a manual transmission – and averages 33 miles-per gallon, considerably better than the Chevy Colorado, which best-cases 25 MPG on the highway with its standard four cylinder engine and mandatory automatic transmission, which unlike the Zhengtu’s manual has lots of expensive electronics and when it fails it’ll cost more than the truck is worth to replace.
The Zhengtu’s manual may need a new clutch at some point.
To be fair to the Chevy you can buy here, it is capable of easily and comfortably exceeding 100 MPH while the Zhengtu’s maximum velocity is about 75 MPH, a function of its smaller 1.5 liter (vs. 2.5 liter in the Colorado) engine and its much less abundant horsepower (99 vs. 200).
But this is a truck, after all – and 75 is about as fast as you can legally drive anything almost anywhere in the United States, except for a few places such as Texas where you’re allowed to drive slightly faster.
A 100-plus MPH top speed is theoretically nice but largely useless – and very expensive. Also irrelevant (as well as hugely illegal) when you’re not on the highway. On a rural country road with a 45 MPH speed limit, being able to drive 100 MPH is kind of like being able to use your pistol to deal with a neighbor you don’t like. Certainly, you have the capability. But in both cases, using it is inadvisable.
But a $9k truck is very useful.
Among other things, it means you have to work less to own it, a very useful thing. It means you would have the money you didn’t have to spend on the $25 truck available to use for other things, also useful. Instead of just one truck – and many payments – you have a paid-for truck and money to buy an ATV, a tractor, lots of tools – or maybe get the roof replaced.
Even better, money in the bank.
Americans are broke because they spend too much. More finely, because they aren’t allowed to spend less.
That’s the point here.
The Zhengtu isn’t for everyone. But it’d be nice if such a truck were available for people who don’t need 100-plus MPH top speeds or all the “features” that you have to buy, if you want to buy any new truck that they’re selling here.
Many young people, for instance, cannot afford a truck like the Colorado – even used. But almost any young person could afford a brand-new truck like the Zhengtu, which would give them wheels and thus, freedom. Including the freedom to work, so that one day they might be in a position to afford a bigger, stronger more elaborate truck like the Colorado.
This was how the American vehicle landscape once was. A range of vehicles – all types – were available, some very fancy and expensive and others very simple and thus, affordable. The latter made it easy to the young to begin the motoring journey and for the frugal to motor without having to bleed.
America could use a truck like the Zhengtu.
It’s too bad we’re not allowed to buy it.
. . .
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