The new Chevrolet Colorado is going to be revealed next week at the LA Auto Show. This new truck cannot come soon enough for Chevy. In the past few months Chevy’s truck sales have dropped off a cliff, while at the same time other manufacturers and even Chevy’s other vehicles, are recording world record volumes. The double digit declines in sales have let stealthy rival Toyota pass GMC in truck sales, and if the slide continues, Chevy will be neck and neck with Toyota in all but heavy duty pickup truck sales.
Chevy quit on the Colorado, just as Ford quit on the Ranger, and Dodge quit on the Dakota, a few years back. First they quit modernizing the small trucks, then after they died on the vine, the companies stopped building and marketing them. The thought at the time was, why sell a smaller, less expensive truck, when we can barely keep up with demand for our larger and more expensive ones? It was thinking like that put both GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and Ford into debt as deep as it had even been. The Toyota Tacoma meanwhile grew a few percent a year, until wouldn’t you know it, it became a vehicle that sells now in the hundreds of thousands per year. Go figure. Higher gas prices, a recession, and other factors all conspired to make small trucks desirable again. Now Toyota has about a decade of new, loyal truck fans thanks to the decision by the big boys to drop out of the affordable, compact truck market. If you think this is an exaggeration, you are wrong, and our recent overview tells the tale quite clearly.
The new Colorado, and the GMC twin, the Canyon, could both be sellers in the 50K to 100K range depending upon how much effort GM puts into the new vehicles. They could even sell a lot more since the Ranger and Dakota are not going to be around to be tempting “American” alternatives. At their peak in 2005 they sold about 160,000 per year combined. The Colorado could be an excellent fuel-saving alternative for those who want the functionality and coolness of a truck, but also have a limited budget for both the vehicle and the fuel. GM could put class-leading engines and content in the vehicles, or they can mail it in as they have on the Malibu, which leads in pretty much not a single category in its class. We will soon know.
GM now has viable four-cylinder turbo, V6, and even twin turbo V6 options that could make the Colorado and Canyon trucks extremely interesting to a new breed of compact truck buyers. The styling will be edgy to attract new younger buyers, and GM could make sporty versions of the trucks with 2WD and a lowered suspension. These would be more attention getters than plywood getters, but they would build a buzz around the new trucks. The new look shown above has a little bit of a resemblance to (listen don’t break your keyboard when you read this, OK?) the Honda Ridgeline. Gasp!
The new Colorado will be built in the Wentzville, MO plant. For those keeping track, that is in the United States. GM does not build all the trucks it sells in the US. So the new trucks can use the made in America theme if that helps. Although with the only rival being Toyota, which makes all of its trucks in Texas (also in the US), that may not be the most inspiring motivation for buyers.
Truck sales at GM help to fund green cars that lose money like the Chevy Volt, the Spark EV, and other government mandated transportation excuses. The new smaller Colorado and Canyon might actually help the environment more than these insanely low volume, incredibly expensive to build vehicles. The sheer volume potential for small trucks in the US, many of which will be bought instead of a used gas-guzzling full size truck, or stripped version of a new gas-guzzling pickup, could actually reduce the use of gasoline. Image that. Make money, help reduce the amount of fuel used, and take some market share back from Toyota. Sounds like a plan GM should have embraced about ten years ago.