Having recently invested in an all-new global compact car, the Cruze, it was inevitable that Chevrolet would eventually come out with an MPV based on the Cruze’s underpinnings. When the unavoidable people-mover debuted at the 2008 Paris Auto Show as the severely handsome Orlando Concept, its clean yet distinctive look certainly got our attention. And with initial plans calling for US production (Hamtramck), it seemed that The General really was ready to put up to seven Americans in a compact-car-based vehicle. But after we called the Orlando “The Cruze To Wait For,” GM entered bailout hell and the Orlando was canceled and uncanceled for the US market with every new executive that passed through the RenCen.Now, with the first images of the production Orlando hitting the web, the post-concept reality of Chevy’s “Delta MPV7″ reflects its troubled development.
The very European-looking concept has been softened into what looks more like a US-market crossover (i.e. something you might spot in Orlando)… but it’s going to be made by Daewoo in South Korea, and is focused on the European market. And based on the current plans, Americans looking for this kind of car from GM will have to spring for a GMC Granite “Urban Utility Vehicle.” Because apparently GM’s product planners think Europeans are into generic, American-named people movers, while Americans are looking for over-the-top designs and an upmarket brand from their fuel-efficient kiddy haulers. On the other hand, as little sense as that premise makes, the production look of the Chevy Orlando won’t exactly inspire anyone to contradict it.
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?
Ain’t it Granite? As Curbside Classics recently explored, GMC has a long, proud tradition of uglifying otherwise palatable Chevrolet products. In this case, the Chevy Cruze-based Orlando compact MPV was beaten with GMC’s patented professional-grade ugly stick, transforming it into the this “Urban Utility Vehicle.” “Granite was conceived as a new type of vehicle from GMC – one that could stretch people’s ideas of what a GMC can be,” said Lisa Hutchinson, product marketing director for GMC in the Granite presser. Which is a fantastic-sounding way of announcing the destruction of the last remnants of GMC’s truck-tough image. But hey, at least the core brand value of cubist-nightmare styling remains intact.