Written by administrator Saturday, 08 October 2011 13:34
By: Bill Visnic - Senior Editor, AutoObserver.com DETROIT — Midsize pickup trucks — they used to be called "compact" before they got too big for that to make sense — were presumed left for dead by the Detroit Three, but a variety of moves in the past week indicate that General Motors isn't carving any headstones after all. GM hasn't said anything definitive lately about the fate of the midsize Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon nameplates, seeing how their assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, is scheduled to close in mid-2012. But GM doesn't have to, as it has now all but said a new midsize pickup is coming. And it'll be no emerging-market leftover. It looks magnificent and will be built in the U.S. It's no coincidence that just prior to agreeing with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union on a tentative new labor contract, GM showed a concept version of a new midsize pickup at last week's 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show soon to be built in Thailand. There aren't a half-dozen pickups in all of Germany, so some wondered what the Colorado Rally Concept was doing in Frankfurt. But when details of the new GM-UAW labor contract emerged, it became clearer: The Colorado Rally is the trial balloon for the next-generation Colorado/Canyon in the U.S. The UAW's summary of the contract provisions said matter-of-factly that GM's commitments to new products to be built in the U.S. include (at its Wentzville, Missouri, assembly plant), "full shift added and new midsize truck program." If anyone needed more confirmation GM intends to build and sell a next-generation midsize pickup in the U.S., the company doubled down on its clues when it issued a press release with a Bangkok dateline this week boasting that "Chevrolet's highly anticipated new-generation Colorado has been put through final testing in Thailand as General Motors prepares to produce the midsize pickup in its Rayong assembly plant." Press releases about GM products being introduced in Thailand typically are not the stuff of U.S. media relations. Chevrolet provided no details about the Colorado Rally concept save that it is powered by one of GM's new turbodiesel four-cylinder engines. Diesel power is one factor that could vastly improve the fuel-economy portion of midsize pickups' current problem, but diesel-engine cost makes the new diesel engine family an unlikely option for U.S. consumption, although GM has found a way to make the new diesel engine family cost-effective for the Asia-market Colorado.
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