Chevy Montana
Tim Esterdahl's picture

Sources Say Chevy Will Bring Small Compact Pickup to the US - the LUV returns?

There has been talk for years about bringing back a "true" compact truck, ala the 1970s-80s size, back to the U.S. market. For many truck buyers, the new pickups have grown too large and too powerful for their needs. Many think a Chevy LUV type vehicle may do very well. Apparently, GM does too and may be seriously considering bringing one to the market.

At a recent press event, a Jalopink journalist finally beat down several GM engineers into suggesting they are working on a “new LUV project.” This off-the-record conversation could just be a reference to a test mule, yet a truly compact truck does have it’s merits.

The speculation since the article has appeared is that GM will import or build the Latin American Chevy Montana. The Brazilian built compact truck is pretty much just an updated Chevy LUV. The LUV was sold in the U.S. from 1972-1981 when it was replaced by the larger S-10. (FYI - LUV stands for light utility vehicle)

For those curious, the Chevy Montana is powered by a 1.4L 4-cylinder with a 5-speed manual transmission. And while this is plenty for that market, it is likely that GM will need to increase the size of the 4-cylinder as well as put their 6-speed transmission from the next-generation Chevy Colorado. In many ways, it may just be a smaller Chevy Colorado with the same engine and transmission.

Pros to the LUV

Bringing the Chevy LUV back could pay lots of dividends for GM’s truck strategy. They currently talk a lot about offering a product for every customer’s needs. This multi-prong truck strategy is really just PR speak, yet from a business perspective, it is great to offer every customer a vehicle to fit their needs.

Another pro to offering the LUV is that nobody else offers a product in that segment. This would give GM a leg up on creating a product unlike anything anybody else offers. Remember that the Toyota Prius did this years ago and it worked out pretty well for them.

While nobody really knows what the demand maybe for a compact truck, there is one customer who benefit from such a size – fleet buyers. Yes, there are those fleet buyers who need a HD model, there are lots that don’t. Consider the case of Orkin. The pesticide company uses thousands of trucks each day and these used to be Ford Rangers. When Ford discontinued the Ranger thinking that customers would simply buy the F150, Orkin didn’t. They bought the Tacoma instead. Why? Their employees could more easily drive it and the access to the bed was better than the F150. A smaller compact truck than the Tacoma would be an even better fit for Orkin and similar customers.

Also, it could appeal to the Gen Y buyers who have so far not bought as many new vehicles that previous generations have. This segment has been a hot topic for automakers and is the primary reason Scion has considered a compact truck from time to time.

Lastly and maybe most importantly, a compact truck would fit nicely in GM’s lineup with the pending CAFE requirement. A truck of this size should have outstanding fuel economy with its small footprint – a CAFE dream product.

Cons to the LUV

Of course, one of the biggest problems with building a LUV is turning a profit. These small trucks like compact cars simply don’t have much profit. The larger full-size trucks do and this is one of the reasons why the smaller trucks vanished. If Chevy builds the LUV and it sits on dealer’s lots, GM may have to sell it at cost or for a slight loss (see: Pontiac Aztek).

Plus, the LUV may not have any other compact truck competition; it would compete with GM’s mid-size offerings on the same lot. Competition is great in most cases, yet competing against yourself isn’t so ideal.

The reality is that bringing this size of vehicle to the market is full of risk. Yet, this “new GM” doesn’t seem to be averse to risk. GM's Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, recently said as much in an Automobile Magazine. He points out that critics said GM couldn't sell the Chevy Spark and the Buick Encore in the U.S. Yet, both products are selling really well and Chevy is having some difficulty keeping up with the demand for the Spark, according to Reuss.

"I love doing things that make sense, that no one else is doing," said Reuss.

With Reuss a big part of the executive team, GM may have the people in place that will push for this truck to come to the U.S.

What do you think? Is GM seriously considering a LUV remake?

Written by Tim Esterdahl

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Yes, I too believe that there is a real need for a small pickup truck in the North American market. Even the Japanese offerings have grown to mid-size proportions. For those of us that have owned a Love 4x4 and the slightly up-sized S 10, the viability and utility of a small fuel efficient pickup will be most welcomed to a market dominated by super-sized work- pickups. As to profits? That's Chevrolet's problem. I would be hard pressed to shed a tear for G.M.
I don't think there's nearly the market for them that many would believe. There is a good market for the small van, which we're seeing now selling in relative volume (ala the Ford Transit Connect and Nissan NV). For commercial use at this size, vans are more viable and have a much larger market. The small pickups that used to sell in that market were largely sold with bed covers and vans are more utilitarian. I highly doubt there's much of a consumer market for a small pickup by comparison.
I think it would be smart for GM to give it a shot. They are sitting on loads of cash, need to reconnect with pissed off customers and have a desire to be seen as innovative. As far as demand, who knows. Many people didn't think the Chevy Spark, Raptor SVT, FJ Cruiser, etc., would sell, yet look at how well they are doing.
It's funny that the top photo shows a dirtbike in the back of the LUV, because this is EXACTLY what I want a small truck for, to carry 2 dirtbikes to the trails. I currently have a '94 Chevy 1500 2WD with the 4.3 V6 and 180,000 miles. It still runs awesome but even though it's just a standard bed without extended cab, I still have difficulty finding parking spots i can fit into. Plus mileage is only 20mpg highway. My truck is not a daily driver, my Audi is. But id like to get down to 1 vehicle and I would prefer it to be a compact truck with MANUAL tranny, 4WD, and good gas mileage (30mpg combined). Put a diesel 4 into this LUV and Im sold, Chevy. I dont need 4 freakin doors or extended cab, I need to park in standard slots on the street.
I have a 2005 Colorado and have been looking for a replacement. I think the new Colorado is too big and expensive and the Nissan and Toyota platforms are too old and dated. I would buy something like this especially if offered with AWD.
I can't wait for GM to launch these trucks. Huge demand.
I'm ready! Prefer #1,awd 2nd fwd or 3rd rwd
I love (no pun intended) the idea of a compact pickup truck, but I'm not a fan of FWD pickups like the Montana. FWD and vehicles used for serious hauling don't mix because traction over the front wheels will decease as the load in the bed increase. If you only need a very light-duty FWD hauler the market currently offers the Ford Transit Connect and the Nissan NV200. GM will come out with a cargo van based on the NV200 in 2015, however no FWD pickup in NA is currently available. Perhaps a FWD pickup would sell if it was priced low enough. Maybe GM could use an AWD drive-train like the new 2015 Jeep Renegade that defaults to FWD until there is wheel slippage that will engage the rear wheel drive to provide AWD only when needed.
I'd buy it right now. I don't want or need a full size or almost full size pickup. I just want an occasional light hauler for the Home Depot and Lowes runs or to take the mower to the shop. I want something that easily fits in the garage and gets good gas mileage. I hope they bring it here soon.
Here is one more potential customer who doesn't understand why this large market segment for truly compact pickups is being ignored. Yes, profit may be a problem, but demand is there. So profit will come. Crew or 3-door extended cab. Diesel option. I'm in. GM, I hope you are still reading this old post. Cheers.
My dream life style truck would be something like the Holden Ute with a small diesel engine and a manual transmission.
I would buy a veh like that in a second.I dont need a giant truck.something to pick up stuff with like washer dryer.trucks coasting 40.000.grand are crazy
I think it should be brought back the chevy luv had so many fans. There is also a whole page of chevy luv trucks
I also think there is a need for a compact pickup in NA, however I was never a fan of the LUV or Montana. I think something more along the line of a 21st century S-10 would sell better as long as it had RWD or AWD. Forget about a FWD truck.
I concur w DrLou. The Montana doesn't really float my boat. But it is the right size for 98% of the stuff I'd use one for. And convenience of parking a smaller vehicle is of value. It is just that the "small" pickup has been gaining heft with every new generation of vehicle since the last S10 iteration. I'm putting my vote in to Chevy to bring out a real pickup in genuine compact size.
Absolutely WH., I also would love GM to produce another real pickup and/or an El Camino type of truck.
Yes! This would be perfect! I would love to have the utility of a truck but the size and fuel economy of a car. Frankly the Colorado would be over-kill for me and the cost is prohibitive. I would make great use of a small bed but have little need to tow anything of much weight. The Colorado is as large as the Silverado of yesteryear. For this bed to fit a moped, lawnmower, snow blower, etc. would really appeal to others like myself. I feel that if it is light enough the Colorado transmission and engine choices would be overkill. If the Montana can haul 1700 lbs in the bed with 99 hp, for the US the Cruze transmission and the 1.4 turbo or 2.0 turbo diesel would be perfect options.
If it would be made, you can bet I will purchase one. I'm retired, no need for a large pickup, but I do get yard waste and the odd bag of peat-moss to transport. This would fit nicely in my garage, and into my lifestyle. I had big cars once, but now I love compact. Easier to park, fun to dive and good on fuel.
Absolutely! I drove a 1972 LUV for several years back in the early '80s that I got for a song from a guy because the oil warning light kept coming on. I replaced the sensor for a few bucks and never has that, or, any other, problem with that sweet little beast. I've been dreaming of getting another one and waited expectantly for the introduction of the Colorado and would have bought one; but, the thing was larger than the 2007 Silverado I already had. I will snag a new LUV the day they are first offered.
I just found this article. Ive been a true believer in the LUV. My 1st 4x4 was a 79 truly amazing 4x4. Bringing back camaros and mustangs, etc. has left me wondering why not the first light utility vehicle. Im sure there are changes and modifications that can be made to accomodate the many uses the LUV has performed. I would be thr first inline to purchase one. Thank you for at least considering this.
plain and simple not everyone needs a ( Tank ) to drive. s10 was the right size for your everyday kind of guy. I do think this type or size of truck would sell.
I also hope Volkswagen will import their Brazilian made Saveiro to the north American market, or Fiat Strada, Peugeot Hoggar, etc. Look it up, these are cool little ute's.
Agree it would sell but make in USA before I buy one.
What I don't understand why old names must be maintained in America. A new concept or design would be best with a new name I think. No more El Camino, LUV or Ranchero please. That was in the past. Name it more urban like, in today's times.
Welp. It never happened.....
Keep holding your breath..Maybe some day the Chevy LUV will return! The 2047 Chevy LUV! Ford Courier is coming back
Pssssst. Yeah you. You wanna buy a Maverick pickup?