Chevrolet has had a difficult time deciding if its Cruze-based MPV, known as the Orlando, is a good fit for the US-market. Initially, Chevy debuted the Orlando concept at the Paris auto show, and said it had no plans for a US-market version. Then it was approved for the US ahead of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, and now, according to Automotive News [sub], it’s off again. The (up to) seven-passenger MPV, built on GM’s “Delta II” compact architecture will be sold in Europe, Asia, and even Canada… just not in the US. Chevy spokesfolks explain:
The best thing to do for Chevrolet is to focus on the brands we’ve already brought to market: the Traverse, Equinox, Malibu and, soon to come, the Cruze. We feel that with those vehicles, Chevrolet has plenty of options for the modern family.
Of course, Chevy sells all three of those vehicles in Canada as well… so how are these three options “plenty” for US consumers, but not for our friendly neighbors to the North?
According to AN [sub], GM’s most vaunted “car guy” executive (now that Bob Lutz has hit the dusty trail) Mark Reuss made the move to cancel a US-market Orlando… but why? The short answer: GM’s product pipeline is jammed with compact-to-midsize crossover/MPVs. With Chevy, Buick and GMC versions of the Delta-II MPV as well as possible Buick-GMC versions of a Gamma II-platform (Aveo) MPV planned, GM had a lot of products to fit between the more-MPV-like Aveo and the Theta-platform crossovers (Equinox, Terrain) in its 2012 lineup. By offering a seven-seat compact MPV in the US, GM would be creating competition for the more profitable Theta and Lambda (Enclave, Traverse, Acadia) crossovers… and that’s the good scenario. The bad scenario would be the Orlando selling at Mazda5 levels.
And then there’s one more crucial consideration: with a Volt MPV5 being shown at the Beijing Auto Show, there’s a good chance the five-seat plug-in is coming to the US. And because the MPV5 looks so much like an Orlando with a Volt grille slapped on, GM’s planners might have thought that the MPV5 would be more successful in the US as a plug-in -only model. And maybe they’re right. Still, the Orlando is one of the more compelling (if awfully named) vehicles to be teased by GM of late… we can’t say we’re thrilled to see the US-version canceled.