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The Chicago Auto Show may not have as many high profile introductions as the New York and Los Angeles shows and certainly the huge NAIAS in Detroit, but it’s commercially important. There are more cars on display in McCormick Place than at any other North American auto show, and unlike the Detroit show you can actually buy a car during the public days of the show – almost no retail activity (besides being able to buy Ryba’s outstanding Mackinac Island fudge) is allowed on the show floor at the NAIAS. The Chicago show is also important commercially, as in the sense of business to business commerce. Trucks and utility vehicles are always important at the Chicago show and Toyota has used the Chicago show before to feature their fullsize North American pickup, the Tundra. The Tundra was first introduced at Chicago a few years ago and now Toyota has used that show to debut the latest “all-new” version of the Tundra.
Those quotation marks are there because while the sheet metal is all new, the mechanical bits are mostly carried over from the previous Tundra, albeit with updates. Toyota has had a rough row to hoe with the Tundra. Few vehicle owners are as brand loyal as pickup truck buyers, which is a bit ironic since American pickups are very much alike: body on frame rear wheel drive layouts with a V8 driving through a live axle out back. Still, about 6% of the pickup market changes from year to year. That’s because many pickups are bought by businesses not concerned with brand loyalty but rather with the best truck for the money. Much of that 6% go to whichever OEM has most recently updated truck, so it looks like the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra which were just introduced in December will have a short window of opportunity to convince those fleet buyers to go with a GM pickup rather than wait for the new Tundra.