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Why is a pickup truck called a one-and-a-half-ton pickup?

Dear Tom and Ray:

Why is a pickup truck called a one-and-a-half-ton pickup? -- Nadeen

TOM: Great question, Nadeen.

RAY: A lot of people are confused by this. When a pickup truck is said to be a "one-and-a-half-ton" pickup, that means its payload capacity is 1 1/2 tons. Which means the maximum amount of weight it can carry, including passengers, is 3,000 pounds.

TOM: By the way, you can often tell a pickup truck's payload by its name -- or, more correctly, its number. Ford uses the number 150 for its 1500 pound pickups (F150), 250 for its 2500 pound pickups (F250) and so on. GM and Chrysler simply add a zero and use 1500, 2500 and 3500 designations.

RAY: Of course, tonnage is such an abstract concept that we've been campaigning for a new, more easily understandable payload designation. We want the average man on the street to quickly understand how much he can put in his vehicle. But so far, only Mercedes has adopted our new standard. You'll notice they have the ML320 and the ML430, which are rated for payloads of 3.2 and 4.3 mothers-in-law, respectively.
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