By on June 30, 2010

Yesterday we suggested that this line drawing of a smaller-than-full-size Chevrolet pickup meant that Chevy would be “recommitting” to the US market for compact pickup trucks. Today, however, Bloomberg reports that Chevy is planning a mid-sized truck for production in Thailand, and that GM is focusing its smaller pickup efforts on the developing markets in South East Asia and Brazil (importation to Europe is also planned). GM’s Martin Apfel explains

The logical consequence is to build where the customer wants it, as that keeps your costs down. [Thailand and Brazil are] the two centers of gravity for midsize trucks

Adding insult to injury, GM is building up its diesel egine plant in Rayong, Thailand, as it prepares to build this smaller pickup. Which means that, like Mahindra and Volkswagen, this primarily diesel-powered small pickup likely won’t be brought to America to cannibalize GM’s full-sized lineup. Once again, US small-truck demand and emissions standards will likely conspire to keep this little truck out of America.

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15 Comments on “Chevrolet Mid-Sized Truck Planned, But Not For US?...”

  • avatar

    The demand for small trucks went the way of the dodo bird here in the States…practically extinct. Which is sad, really. A small, basic truck would be ideal for light duty work around the house, but the vast majority of pick-up truck buyers here (not counting commercial use) rarely ever use their full-sized F-150’s and Silverados for much more than attempting to look manly in their driveway.

    • 0 avatar

      They don’t want to sell you a small truck when they can sell you a full sized truck with its bigger profit margin. And before any industry pundit says there isn’t a market for small trucks I’d counter that they priced the small truck out of the market.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem isn’t that consumers prefer big trucks as much as it is that there’s no value proposition behind a smaller truck. The Ranger is just not worth it next to a stripped or lightly-used F-150 (ditto for GM and Chrysler). The Tacoma and Frontier make for a slightly more compelling packages, but I’d expect that as the Tundra gets more traction we’ll see the Taco wither and die and the Frontier is a non-presence.

      The other problem is that most of the small trucks aren’t very good, and cost pressure isn’t going to see them improve.

      Small trucks won’t be sold in North America until someone figures a way to make them cost-competitive. About the only way to do that would be to leverage a unibody platform, at which point “truck people” will walk away.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not so much about profit margins being higher, it’s that all cars (big or small) have a significant amount of the same content in them now:
      Driver, Passenger, and side (x2) airbags.
      ABS controller.
      Engine Computer.
      When it’s the number of systems and tools that are the majority of the cost as opposed to the raw materials then it’s harder to justify buying 7/10ths the truck at 9/10ths the price.  Might as well plunk down the little extra to get the full size.

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    I think they are dumb if they don’t bring it here in the states. I would LOVE a decent compact pick-up. My favorite vehicle that I have even driven on a regular basis was one that I technically never owned. My Dad’s old 1987 Nissan hardbody regular cab 4 x 4. He misses that truck to this day.I hope nissan does what they said they would and downsize the next frontier. I have absolutely no use for a full size.

  • avatar

    you can tell by the bed design, especially the ribbed upper portion (that doesn’t sound good but I don’t know how else to describe it) that this is not a pickup destined for the US. In Central/South America you see the pickups have this “lip” on the top of the bed, whereas US trucks generally don’t.

    The Isuzu D-Max, if you recall, took the same development path…originally developed for Thailand I believe but ended up here as our Chevy Colorado. This could be a re-peat. But I wonder if Isuzu is doing the development, or GM proper. I also wonder if it will be a new platform or not. I like the overall size/proportions of the Colorado, and would have bought one already if GM had actually shown any effort in building the truck. It was a half-assed effort at best (poor drivetrain choices, poor reliability, sloppy build quality) and therefore doesn’t deserve my dollar.

    • 0 avatar

      NN, sorry but not. Those things are on old Jap pickups and IIRC on the Mahindra. But no modern pick up has that. If it does its for Asia only. The new S10 )in Brazil) has started to appear in the press. It doesn’t have that. So, maybe Central America and some of the Andean countries that inport a lot of Chinese/Indian “rubbish”. But in the South of South America, no.

  • avatar

    You want a small diesel pick-up or utility van in the US today? Good luck. ’86 and older Toyota and Isuzu P’ups running, in good shape easily sell for more than new. Even 200Kmile Sprinters resale is big.

    Thats probably the biggest reason we wont see that again here. The manufacturers still want to sell a new, bigass V8 truck every 3 years or so. Things that last forever, get great mileage??? Not a good business plan.

  • avatar

    psarhjinian’s right about small trucks. Most buyers can’t find value in them when the full-size offerings are as compelling as they are.

    My brother-in-law just traded in his extended-cab 2007 Frontier for a 2010 Tacoma quad cab. I drove the Nissan once and I would absolutely refuse to drive something that small/uncomfortable. A smaller Frontier would be an instant fail. I can’t believe that they actually built that on the same frame as the Titan, which is a good idea that may keep costs down if it weren’t for the fact that the Titan’s a fail also. Dodge might have been able to pull that off with Ram/Dakota if they tried, but they didn’t.

    He did say that he looked at Tundra vs. Frontier and the comparably-priced Tundra had much less in the way of options than his Tacoma does. Last time I compared Ram/Dakota the two most equally equipped trucks cost within 2k of one another and yet the Dakota lacks space and fails to improve fuel economy.

    Most around-the-house trucks that homeowners have (mine included) also serve daily use needs, including family-hauling. I have two kids under 6 and have to transport my toddler nephew on a weekly basis and see no potential way to do that in a small/mid-size truck. If the truck were a third/weekend vehicle a small truck would do the hauling duties just fine, but I can’t afford an additional vehicle for that role. I can afford a sub-optimal commuter vehicle that fulfills more roles much easier. I won’t sacrifice utility unless that sacrifice is met with a greater cost savings. None of the small trucks offer it IMHO, and based on sales numbers I’m far from alone.

    • 0 avatar

      My responsibilites also include carrying a backseat of small children so a four door truck would be necessary but the MPG isn’t impressive on the foor door trucks. It reaches into the full sized truck MPG terriotory.

      My solution was to buy a lightweight trailer for our CUV. In my case I wanted a REALLY lightweight trailer similar to the ones I saw in Europe and I bought a Brenderup 1205s. 1200 lbs rating and I generally carry 750 lbs or less. They make trailers of all sizes and capacities. I get by on household projects just fine this way and we can carry our camping gear/bikes/tents/etc. I recently carried camping gear for 12 kids on a Scout week at camp. No problem and certainly not heavy enough to justify a 16 mpg fullsized truck. I usually lose 1 mpg pulling the trailer lightly loaded behind our CR-V.

      I bought the top so we have wet weather cargo space. That was the problem with our previous generic open top trailer. Had to work around the weather. Recently hauled my fullsized tablesaw to a friend’s house and put down a bamboo floor. Saw and other tools were safe and dry during a heavy downpour.

      If we can get somebody to sell a CUV with a truck bed on the back and a small turbo diesel I’d be sold on the idea. I do not like the seating position in most of the small trucks I’ve driven with a low seat, my feet straight out in front of me. I prefer the more upright seating of my CUV. I guess what I want is a modern version of my ’78 VW Westfalia as a crewcab truck. Compact, upright, and roomy inside all the while getting 25+ mpg gas or 35+ mpg with a small diesel.

  • avatar

    I have a pickup as a 3rd vehicle – if it ever needs replaced, I’d be down for something a more compact but could still handle a 4×8 sheet of plywood.

  • avatar

    I guess the best hope for a good affordable small pickup would have to come from a manufacturer that does not make a full size truck so as to not step on the toes (and big profits) of the full size model, [i.e don’t make the Colorad/Canyon too good and affordable, b/c then it will take away sales from the Silverado/Sierra line of thinking]

    I’m thinking Hyundai.

  • avatar

    I would love a small, utilitarian (to the extreme) pick up that gets pretty good fuel economy for every day driving and can carry say 1,500 – 2,000 lbs. of cargo. I would even take something car-based, like a Cruze-based Rampage or Rabbit type vehicle. Okay, maybe a creature comfort or two since I would use it as a commuter, but a rubber floor covering would be good enough for me.

  • avatar

    Actually, Mahindra’s 2 and 4-door diesel pickups are in fact coming to the US. Yes, there have been some roadblocks, but Mahindra says they will get over them and launch in the US. In fact, not that long ago, the president of the company’s automotive sector announced that they will be in the US December 2010. So forget about these stories – I really think American OEMs have given up on midsize pickups in the US. Which is unfortunate because it’s clear from the blogosphere that there is a trucking community that wants smaller pickups.

  • avatar

    Good old Detroit. Give up on wagons and then minivans and then small trucks and small cars and electric cars. Make up all sorts of statements about how the American consume doesn’t want these. Meanwhile the imports step in to build these products and make a good living doing so.

    Way to go Detroit. Wonder if my first turbo diesel four door truck will be a Mahindra?

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