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GM Boosts Production as Sales Surge for Midsize Colorado, Canyon Pickups

Maker will add 3rd shift, 750 jobs at Missouri plant.

by on Sep.16, 2014

Chevrolet will offer both a fuel-efficient I-4 engine and a more powerful V-6, with a diesel coming a year later.

With sales exceeding initially cautious expectations, General Motors plans to sharply boost production of its new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups.

GM will add a third shift at the plant in Wentzville, Missouri that produces the two midsize trucks. That move will create another 750 jobs at the factory, which also produces the Chevy Express and GMC Savanna full-size vans. GM had previously invested $513 million at the Wentzville plant to handle the addition of the new pickups, creating 1,315 jobs in the process.

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The maker has taken an unusually large number of early orders for the Colorado and Canyon models, it says, about 30,000 so far. There had been plenty of concern that GM might miss the mark with the two trucks considering the decline in the midsize segment over the last two decades.


VW, Jeep Again Looking at Options for U.S. Pickups

A resurgent midsize pickup segment could draw new contenders.

by on Mar.06, 2014

The current VW Amarok is not sold in the U.S. market and may be too small to import.

Only a few years ago, the pundits were writing off full-size pickups as dinosaurs set to vanish from the market. But last year they set their best sales mark since the crash of the U.S. automotive market.  Now, many analysts are starting to rethink forecasts predicting the demise of the midsize truck segment.  That apparently includes product planners for both Volkswagen AG and Jeep.

In recent years, the segment has dwindled to insignificance and key players like Ford and Chrysler have abandoned their entries. Ford actually developed a new version of its Ranger for global markets but decided against bringing it to the States.

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But with General Motors counter-programming, as it were, with the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models, might other manufacturers follow?

There are several who continue to consider their options, including both of the Korean carmakers, Hyundai and Kia.  But the makers most likely to take some action could be Detroit-based Jeep, and German giant Volkswagen AG — which already has an option available, the midsize Amarok pickup it sells in a wide range of overseas markets.


Honda Offers Glimpse of Next-Gen Ridgeline Pickup

New truck due in "less than two years."

by on Dec.10, 2013

A new sketch hints at what will be the reborn Honda Ridgeline midsize pickup.

While Honda plans to pull the plug on its edgy little Ridgeline pickup at the end of the 2014 model-year, the maker isn’t walking away from what some analysts believe could become a newly resurgent market segment.

A sketch released by the Japanese maker offers a hint of what the next-generation Honda Ridgeline will look like, an accompanying release suggesting the next-gen pickup “will come to market in less than two years.”

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As with the soon-to-disappear version of the Ridgeline, the next model is being developed in the U.S., its prime market. Work is being split between the Honda R&D Americas operations in Los Angeles and Ohio.


GM Truck Offensive Picks Up Momentum

Chevrolet, GMC, add more models, target up-market buyers.

by on Sep.26, 2013

The upcoming launch of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon will highlight GM's new truck offensive.

General Motors plans to unveil  its new mid-sized pickup trucks during the press previews at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November – the new Chevy and GMC models part of a broad offensive the Detroit maker hopes will take advantage of the sudden surge in truck sales.

The introduction of the two midsize pickups will follow the launch of GM’s new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size models, and target a segment of the market now dominated by the Japanese.

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“We think we have a real opportunity with that truck,” said Chris Perry, marketing chief for the Chevrolet division, referring to the new Chevy Colorado pickup. The GMC model will be dubbed the Canyon.

Since GM killed off the old Colorado and Canyon models, Detroit makers have left the segment to the Japanese, with models like the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and the Honda Ridgeline. And with sales on the decline, it has been anything but certain whether the domestics would try a comeback.


Ford Considering Downsized F-Series Pickup

But Detroit maker looks at car-based alternative.

by on Feb.22, 2013

Ford has yet to find a replacement for the old Ranger, which ended its long production run in 2011.

When Ford announced it would finally pull the plug on the long-lived Ranger compact pickup a few years back, many expected the maker would simply replace it with the all-new Ranger model it had develop for worldwide use, launching it into production in Thailand in 2011.

Surprisingly, Ford stressed it had no intention of offering a new Ranger in the U.S. market, insisting that for the price it would have to charge for the global Ranger model buyers would all but certainly opt for the bigger F-Series, long the American market’s most popular truck. Indeed, there’s been a steady shrinkage of the compact pickup segment over the years, buyers either upsizing or abandoning trucks entirely, Ford officials insist.

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So how respond to General Motors’ decision to deliver an all-new Chevrolet Colorado, never mind the ongoing presence of the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier? By shifting into an entirely new direction, Ford officials hint, that was pioneered by Honda with its distinctive Ridgeline pickup.

In other words, what some are dubbing the Ford F-100 just might adopt a crossover, or car-based, platform, a senior marketing executive reveals. That might seem a surprise considering the mixed response the Honda Ridgeline has generated.


Buick, GMC Plan Nine New or Updated Models

Brands hope to accelerate pace of growth.

by on Sep.21, 2012

A new version of the Buick Enclave, one nine new models coming from the luxury brand and sibling GMC.

Buick and GMC will introduce nine new or significantly updated models over the next 12 months, starting this autumn with completely redone versions of the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia crossovers.

At GMC, the new additions to the product line will include the rebirth of the Canyon midsized pickup truck, which will be built in Wentzville, Missouri. Last month, General Motors closed an assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana that had been producing its smaller trucks. The timing for the all-new GMC Canyon’s launch will be announced later.

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The return of the Canyon runs counter to recent industry trends.  Ford, for example, abandoned its long-in-the-tooth Ranger, Chrysler also got out of the midsize truck market.  But, “We believe that introducing a new, agile and efficient mid-size Canyon will meet the needs of many pickup buyers,” said Tony DiSalle, vice president of Buick and GMC Marketing.


Are Makers Reconsidering Small Pickup Market?

Maybe yes…maybe no.

by on Jul.12, 2012

Not for us - Ford has no plans to bring the all-new version of the Ranger compact pickup to the U.S.

This story has been updated to reflect GM’s plans to launch a next-generation version of the Chevrolet Colorado pickup.

They were once the vehicle of choice for Baby Boomers on a budget and others who wanted a simple, affordable and highly functional set of wheels.  But time hasn’t been kind to the compact pickup which has all but vanished from American showrooms.

Could those small trucks now be ripe for a comeback, however? A Chrysler official is indicating that maker might be thinking twice about its options while the Korean makers apparently continue to look for an opportunity in the segment. On the other hand, General Motors has decided to scrap its two current compact offerings, while Indian maker Mahindra & Mahindra has abandoned plans to enter the U.S. with a long-delayed compact pickup.

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“Historically, if you go back to the ’80s, the compact or midsize pickup segment was bigger than the full-size segment,” Chrysler’s Vice President of Product Planning Joe Veltri tells the Detroit Free Press, adding that, “Based on our data, young males still aspire to own a pickup.”


Ford Ranger Plant Ready to Close

Last compact pickup rolls off the line this week.

by on Dec.13, 2011

Production of the long-lived Ford Ranger is finally coming to an end.

The auto industry is back and providing one of the few sources of new jobs in an otherwise struggling U.S. economy.  Or so one might believe in most parts of the country.  Just don’t try to convince the workers at Ford’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

The maker hasn’t set a specific time yet but sometime around Friday it is expected that the last Ford Ranger will roll down the assembly line and the 86-year-old plant, located just outside Minneapolis, will finally shut down.

Though Ford has added thousands of jobs since the depths of the recession and promised to add thousands more as part of its new contract with the United Auto Workers Union about 800 union workers will be idled by the Twin Cities shutdown unless they can find a way to transfer to some other plant in the Ford network.

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The creaky old factory has actually lasted far longer than most of its workers had anticipated.  A report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that rumors of the factories demise were already circulating by 1949, shortly after the plant was converted back from war production.

“It looks like (they were) right, but it took Ford quite a while to finally get around to it,” the paper quoted 80-year old former autoworker Del Peterson.


First Look: 2012 Chevrolet Colorado

Thai debut spices up introduction of new compact pickup.

by on Oct.05, 2011

The all-new Chevrolet Colorado makes its debut in Thailand before an upcoming U.S. launch.

When General Motors launches an all-new version of the Chevrolet Colorado in the months ahead it will be bucking conventional wisdom that says small pickups have fallen out of favor with American buyers.

That helps explain why GM took the wraps off the Chevy Colorado in Thailand, a market where demand is still straining manufacturers’ production capacity.  A prototype of the small truck was first unveiled at the Bangkok Motor Show last March.

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“This is a vehicle built tough for the people of Thailand, by the people of Thailand,” proclaimed GM Thailand President Martin Apfel, noting that the Asian nation will be just the first market for what he described as “GM’s most significant play in the midsize pickup truck market ever.”

Those in the States who have been eyeing the Colorado don’t need to worry.  It will make its way here in a hurry, with a preview scheduled for next month’s Los Angeles Auto Show.


Honda Insists Sagging Ridgeline “Here to Stay”

Japanese maker considers major changes to edgy pickup.

by on Oct.04, 2011

Honda hopes the 2012 Ridgeline Sport will improve flagging demand for its quirky compact pickup.

Mark Twain could have written the script, it seems, officials at Honda asserting that reports of the demise of the slow-selling Ridgeline pickup have been greatly exaggerated.

Despite a slew of speculative articles sweeping the Internet insisting the Japanese maker has decided to kill off the compact truck, Ridgeline will remain part of the Honda line-up for “the foreseeable future,” according to the manager of truck planning.

But what’s unclear is whether that means we’ll continue seeing the Ridgeline as we know it.  The once critically acclaimed pickup adopted an unusual crossover, or car-based, platform rather than the traditional frame-based chassis.  Analysts now are speculating whether a next-generation Ridgeline would migrate to something more classically truck-like.

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“I would like to lay to rest any rumors about the future of the Honda Ridgeline,” said Honda Truck Product Planning Manager Sage Marie. “In no uncertain terms, the reports in the media that we have plans to discontinue the Ridgeline pick-up truck are false. To the contrary, Ridgeline has a significant role in the Honda line-up and it is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.”