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Old 02-20-2014, 10:03 AM   #1
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Manufacturer's Tow Ratings

There's an interesting article in the current issue of AIRSTREAM LIFE by Andy Thompson that offers a new perspective on manufacturer's tow ratings. When you figure that a full size truck can mean as much as $10,000 per unit in profits to GM, Ford and RAM, why would you advertise that a sedan or mid-size SUV is perfectly capable of safely towing a 6000 pound TT? Interesting premise that I can certainly understand.
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Old 02-20-2014, 10:42 AM   #2
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It is a great article and makes the manufacturer's risk versus reward argument very clearly. I thought the points about advertising were very well made, too; you just can't avoid those truck commercials, can you?
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Old 02-20-2014, 10:45 AM   #3
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There's an interesting article in the current issue of AIRSTREAM LIFE by Andy Thompson that offers a new perspective on manufacturer's tow ratings. When you figure that a full size truck can mean as much as $10,000 per unit in profits to GM, Ford and RAM, why would you advertise that a sedan or mid-size SUV is perfectly capable of safely towing a 6000 pound TT? Interesting premise that I can certainly understand.
Unfortunately, the theory that car manufacturers down rate their sedan's tow ratings to promote truck sale (which have a fat profit margin) does not pass a simple test, as Mercedes Benz, VW, Porsche, and BMW do NOT offer a pickup in North American market, yet they rate their sedans similar to GM/Ford/Chrysler.
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Old 02-20-2014, 11:08 AM   #4
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The fact of the matter is that probably not one in a thousand passenger cars are used for any substantial towing, so to keep costs down, modern cars will have very little "reserve " in their systems to expend on the rigors of towing.

Cooling systems will have very limited reserve when towing in the heat, and even drivetrain components like final drives and transmissions will have been designed with very little extra meat on their bones.

A car could last a long time towing so long as a driver wasn't in the habit of pushing the power meant for brief acceleration to its limits for long uphill pulls etc.

Today's cars are not cut from the same cloth as 50s, 60s, and 70s boat cars.
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Old 02-20-2014, 11:19 AM   #5
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rostam,

I think you missed Andy's point. There is no sales advantage to advertising tow ratings for automobiles, which few people will use to tow. There are many sales advantages to advertising tow ratings for trucks, which will be used for towing. Few people with purchase a MB, BMW, VW etc for towing.

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Unfortunately, the theory that car manufacturers down rate their sedan's tow ratings to promote truck sale (which have a fat profit margin) does not pass a simple test, as Mercedes Benz, VW, Porsche, and BMW do NOT offer a pickup in North American market, yet they rate their sedans similar to GM/Ford/Chrysler.
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Old 02-20-2014, 11:32 AM   #6
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why would you advertise that a sedan or mid-size SUV is perfectly capable of safely towing a 6000 pound TT? Interesting premise that I can certainly understand.

It is not just car vs truck. The factory towing capcity of my base entry model stick shift F150 was about 2000lbs stock, while the exact same model with an automatic transmission was in the 7000 lb range. Sure the torque converter helps, but not 5000lbs difference!

Another example is the 2006 vs 2007 Mercedes M-Class SUV. they are nearly idential trucks yet in 2007 the towing capacity somehow was bumped up by about 5000lbs! It is marketing and market segmentation.
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Old 02-20-2014, 11:41 AM   #7
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rostam,

I think you missed Andy's point. There is no sales advantage to advertising tow ratings for automobiles, which few people will use to tow. There are many sales advantages to advertising tow ratings for trucks, which will be used for towing. Few people with purchase a MB, BMW, VW etc for towing.

Bill
Bill,

I believe the point was sedan's tow rating's being down rated as they have a lower profit margin, so trucks with a large profit margin can be sold as TVs. And I explained why this theory does not fly. Did I miss something? I understand that you are focusing on the advertisement aspect of it, but that does not change the premise.

If you are in need of a Diesel mid/full size SUV, then MB, VW, Audi, and Porsche are the only game in town (Now we have GC diesel from Chrysler as well).
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Old 02-20-2014, 01:25 PM   #8
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Just because import auto companies don't sell pickup trucks doesn't mean that companies that do can't or won't promote higher margin vehicles.

What is interesting to me is how some import vehicles get derated when they arrive in a North America. Risk and reward again, in this case potentially influenced by the risk of litigation.
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Old 02-20-2014, 01:41 PM   #9
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I find all of this entertaining!
I actually believe that if you want to tow an Airstream with a vehicle that is not designed as a tow vehicle Andy is the best at the game.
The argument that a company might promote a type of vehicle simply for profit is a double edge sword though as I might simply ask how Can Am makes profit...Dont get me wrong, I like Andy, he is clearly a very bright, accomplished guy. I simply think he degrades his arguments for towing with a car when he invokes this reasoning.

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Old 02-20-2014, 02:31 PM   #10
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I think it is in my best interest to abide by the tow rating of the manufactures due to the warranty and legal issues involved. I will admit I am not a risk taker and will not tempt fate to find out if the manufactures or down rating the towing capacity to drive sales of trucks, I don’t know what the upside would be for me.
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Old 02-20-2014, 02:46 PM   #11
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I will admit I am not a risk taker.
Ya gotta know you're a risk taker - what else could one consider hurtling down a mountain pass at 60mph with 3 tons of aluminum and steel bearing down on you.

I think here, we all differ then on the things that make the risk most enjoyable.
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Old 02-20-2014, 03:25 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by rostam View Post
Unfortunately, the theory that car manufacturers down rate their sedan's tow ratings to promote truck sale (which have a fat profit margin) does not pass a simple test, as Mercedes Benz, VW, Porsche, and BMW do NOT offer a pickup in North American market, yet they rate their sedans similar to GM/Ford/Chrysler.
It's still risk versus reward, why would the German manufacturers see it any differently than their US competitors? There's little money to be made marketing sedans as tow vehicles so they don't take the risk. That doesn't make a VW Jetta, for example, a poor tow vehicle any more than a high tow rating makes a truck a good tow vehicle.
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Old 02-20-2014, 03:33 PM   #13
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Trucks have high ratings because they are tow vehicles. Cars are designed to carry passengers, although some make good tow vehicles. Trucks can make good people carriers also. Jim
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Old 02-20-2014, 03:51 PM   #14
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It's still risk versus reward, why would the German manufacturers see it any differently than their US competitors? There's little money to be made marketing sedans as tow vehicles so they don't take the risk. That doesn't make a VW Jetta, for example, a poor tow vehicle any more than a high tow rating makes a truck a good tow vehicle.
I am not 100% clear on this risk vs reward argument. Lets assume a Jetta can safely tow a 6000# trailer. What is the risk for VW that makes them rate Jetta at 1000#?
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