UAW strike's three-pronged attack focuses on popular midsize trucks, SUVs

2023 Jeep Wrangler

The United Auto Workers announced at midnight last night that they would begin targeted strikes at Ford’s Michigan Assembly, Stellantis’ Toledo Assembly and GM’s Wentzville Assembly — all three home to midsize pickups and, in the case of Toledo and Michigan, popular midsize SUVs. 

The Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator (just updated for 2024), Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon are all built on lines that have been shut down by the strike. The Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler, which share fundamental underpinnings with the Ranger and Gladiator, respectively, are also in on the party. GM’s Wentzville Assembly also builds the GMC Savana and Chevy Express vans, neither of which is a big player in the retail market.

While midsize pickups may not move in the quantities we see from the half-ton segment, all of these are fairly high-volume models. Ford sold nearly 120,000 Broncos along with more than 55,000 Rangers in 2022; Wrangler and Gladiator combined for nearly 260,000 units last year (181,000 of those were Wranglers) and the Colorado/Canyon represented more than 117,000 sales for General Motors.

Throw in the nearly 80,000 units for Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana, and production from these facilities equated to more than 500,000 units sold in 2022. 

Ford has been struggling since launch to deliver its wildly popular Bronco to waiting enthusiasts. With supply woes largely easing last year, the company caught up to a great deal of its pre-existing demand, but lingering supply chain and quality control issues have continued to plague the manufacturer even as general constraints have eased. Even earlier this year, Ford said it was selling every unit it could produce. The Ranger, freshly redesigned for the U.S. market, is still getting its feet wet. 

Jeep likewise has been on a tear. Sales of the 4×4 have remained so steady that the Wrangler 4xe became the country’s best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle pretty much by accident. Jeep just formally confirmed this week that a 4xe variant of the Gladiator pickup is on the way by 2025 — and they said you couldn’t sell hybrids to truck and SUV buyers. 

At GM, meanwhile, the Colorado and Canyon are sporting fresh redesigns for the 2023 model year, with production of both still ramping up. And while the Chevy Express and GMC Savana vans may not be popular consumer models, GM still sold more than 77,000 of them last year combined. 

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