Sources: GM Working on Return to Small Truck Roots

Sources: GM Working on Return to Small Truck Roots
1982 Chevrolet S-10

While other manufacturers have announced plans to completely abandon the slow-selling midsize pickup segment, General Motors apparently thinks there's still life and new opportunity to be found in small trucks. GM is said to be working on a new compact runabout that's reminiscent of the original Chevrolet S-10, according to our sources.

The current Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins have been steadily losing sales and market share over the past few years. Year to date, the Colorado is down 30.3 percent from a year earlier and the Canyon is off 28.5 percent. Newly retired former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz said in February that the future of the two trucks were uncertain and, last year, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said it was GM's plan to end production at the Shreveport plant where the Colorado and Canyon are produced by 2012.

The two biggest players in the segment today are the best-selling Toyota Tacoma, which still sells more than 100,000 units annually, and the long-in-the-tooth Ford Ranger.

But some have complained that the Tacoma is too big -- it grew to its current size in 2005 -- and expensive. And Ford says it will end production of the Ranger next year because small truck buyers can make do with a small car or fuel-efficient F-150. Small truck buyers have also moved into full-size pickups because the cost of entry-level half-ton trucks is often close to the price tag of midsize pickups.

Those reasons are said to be enough to open the door for GM to potentially offer a modern take on a small truck that's similar in size to the compact pickups of the 1980s, when the segment sold more than 1 million trucks annually.

Through April of this year, only 87,985 compact and midsize trucks have been sold, according to J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network sales figures.

The key elements of success for GM's future small truck would be fuel economy that’s greater than its full-size pickups and a window sticker that’s significantly less. It would also be a completely different and smaller platform than the planned next-generation overseas version of the Colorado that will be built in Thailand.

GM isn't the only manufacturer still serious about small trucks. Chrysler has said it hopes to produce a successor to the Dodge Dakota, which ends production in 2011, and Toyota's subsidiary Scion has said it's also considering offering a true compact pickup.

If our sources are correct -- and we're confident they are -- we think this is a brilliant move on GM's part to take advantage of a segment that's only down on its luck because the product choice today is so poor.

Comments

As the owenr of a now-decade old, 125,000-mile Nissan Frontier Crew Cab, I still think of my truck as being "right-sized." For one thing, it fits in my garage with enough room I can get around it, front and back, with the garage door down. I can carry people in the back seat without complaints, and I can carry lots of cargo, especially with the tailgate down and the bed extender in place. Plus I average 20-21 mpg, even with an aging V6.
However, I know my truck likely won't last forever. I'll want to replace it with another pickup, but not a full-size one or even the new "mid-size" trucks that are almost as large and as expensive as full-size pickups.
What I'd want is a truck my size, but hopefully with a clean diesel that could get 25-plus mpg on the highway.

Never a gm guy myself Ive had a quite a few people I know w/ s10s over the years all loved them also know quite a few people w/ colorados/canyons and hated them and had nothing but problems most of these people had perviously owned s10/15s and sonomas glad to see them going back to the smaller roots Id love to see something like the first gen dakotas outta dodge as their new non fullsize truck although I do love my 02 dak

It's about time someone pulled their head out of their A$$ and saw the potential in the mini trucks. Seriously!! With CAFE coming, why wouldn't they.

Great news. I bet that if GM comes out with a compact, Ford and Dodge will follow suit.
I agree that the Tacoma is too expensive.
Kudos to GM.

The Colorado/Canyon trucks are hideous and way too expensive. GM should have cut those trucks before cutting Pontiac or Hummer! The front of them looks like the old Avalanche and for a fully equipped one, you could buy a nice full size truck. As for Toyota, I'd rather buy a Tacoma than a Tundra, but the price difference is minimal. This all started because they all got into the "bigger is better" race and soon enough, all compact trucks became mid-size ones that were as expensive as full size trucks.

I think GM could hit a home run if they can build a true compact pickup with all the modern day amenities found in full size trucks, with great gas mileage. I'd love to buy a new Chevy S-10 with a long bed as a 3rd vehicle to haul things around, while still driving my sports car and my wife having her full size SUV. I can't afford today's mid size trucks anymore and I don't like the 30 year old Ford Ranger. Do it GM!!!!

@Lou,

When has Ford and Ram followed GM. More like Vice-Versa.

Just saying.

Give us something with a 4 cyl diesel that can be carried over to smaller SUV's and you will have a winner.

I'll only believe when I see it. Until then, I can't buy anything GM says.

I've owned two S10s over the years. One with a 4cyl, 4spd and the other with a 4.3L V6, automatic.

While each truck had it's strengths and weaknesses, I loved the 4 banger because of it's economy; not to mention that it was fun to drive! I've just parted with the old '87. It was just going to be too expensive to do a restoration on it.

I'm now driving a 2003 Ranger. And, for now, it works just fine. But I'd really like to buy one more, brand new small truck.

Looks like the Ranger is going away, the Tacoma just isn't my style, and I'm so disappointed with the Colorado!

Americans build the best full size pick up trucks in the world. Sure wish they'd give me a good reason to buy a small, economical, well built small truck.

The Chevy Colorado is junk. My wife's office mate bought one during the cash-for-clunker and he HATES it. My wife rode in it when they went to a meeting and says the ride is horrid. He says he only gets 18 mpg. I've looked at the pickup closely because I've been looking for something. The fit and finish is awful, the interior is cheap. When we went for a ride, it rattles something terrible. I wouldn't keep one if you GAVE it to me. He has since bought a used pickup on ebay, and wants to unload this pile of c r a p . Any suckers?.....errr I mean takers?

@Ty,

Bob and Bobby1971 will take it. Let it be done, let it be written.

If this isnt an April fools joke or a car pickup I may be in buying another GM truck .

God Frank still on your tired "GM copies everyone" bull-crap... Grow up you got nothing...

@Ryan: What about a highly fuel-efficient 4-cyl gas engine, like the Chevy Cruze 1.4L? A diesel is going to be too expensive for a tiny truck.

I think that Ford is going to see how the EB engined F150 is going to sell, and wait and see how much of it's Ranger clientele will do what they theorized: buy a car or an EB F150.
@ Frank -
Ford will be less inclined to kill the Ranger if they see that their biggest Domestic rival (sort of) is going to re-enter the compact market. Ford has the best chance to a pre-emptive strike with one of their existing global Ranger platforms.

Dodge Ram is rumoured to be developing a unibody Dakota replacement. I hope that they have studied the Ridgeline- the best seller that it is;)

I've been saying for years (I know many others have been saying it as well) that somebody should get a small economically-priced work truck on the market.

I don't need a zillion cup holders, sat-nav systems, etc.

Make it sturdy, give it a four cylinder five-speed and spare the frills. They'd sell 'em literally by the truckload.

@Lou,

As mentioned in the article, only 87,985 compact and midsize trucks have been sold. Not much of a market there is it?

@Jake,

Who the hell is talking to you?

Give it a nice little 4cyl turbo diesel (say 200hp/350ft-lbs tq or so) with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions and I would definitely buy some for the business.

If the only engine option is a small gas engine, I wont buy it. Most modern gas engines are quick and get reasonable mileage when the truck is lightly loaded; but throw a heavy toolbox in the bed, a couple 250 lb guys in the cab, and an air compressor or something on the hitch and you'll have to wind the piss out of the gas engine to feel like you are going anywhere. The diesel, on the other hand, will chug right along and get better mileage in the process.

If Mahindra can design a small diesel pickup for the U.S. market, GM should have no problem.

The Colorado/Canyon trucks are in trouble for these
reasons: 1. Butt-ugly; 2. Underpowered; 3. Cheapo interior
materials & design; 4. Overpriced; 5. Not well built, in terms of ride quality. It's not that they're too big. The mid-size thing
can be a mark in their favor. If GM would deal with these
issues, correct them, and improve on the quality of the
trucks, they'd have a great product. Here's how to do that:
1. Redesign, along lines of full size trucks, but with some
distinct cues; 2. Better engines, like an inline 6, or the 3.6
DI V6, maybe both; 3. Redesign interior, w/ slightlty larger
space, just enough for more head/leg room. Console w/
floor shifter option; 4. Bring the price down some. Nobody's
gonna shell out big money for a piece of crap, unless their
brain is stuck in neutral; 5. Suspension and chassis work,
modifications to improve ride. These changes could make
the trucks a better prospect for someone buying a small
truck. Feel free to come w/ other ideas to improve these
trucks.

I think where GM failed is that they designed and developed the Colorado/Canyon trucks with Isuzu. The exterior isn't all that bad looking, but the interior just looks like a typical 80s Japanese brand interior. I think what would make the Colorado/Canyon more competitive is if they would redesign the interiors and considerably drop the sticker price.

@ Frank - correct. It is a small market, but what will happen to that market when fuel prices climb and stay high?

GM needs a replacement for the Colorado/Canyon - they are rated as the top 10 worse vehicles made.
I guess GM guys can go out and buy a F150 EB just like the Ranger guys. LOL

Mahindra - I doubt that they'll ever get their crap together.

This move would make sense to me. Seems like a perfect time given CAFE standards and volatile fuel costs to introduce a small truck, not another mid or full-size truck.

someones gotta call you out on your bullshit Frank...

GM Working on Return to Small Truck Roots

Will this truck come with a year subscription to OnStar and "Big Hair" monthly. LMFAO

Bare Necessity Truck ??

http://thelab.gmblogs.com/bare-necessity-truck/

40mpg truck ?

@Lou,

Fuel prices have climbed in the past and people still buy full size trucks.

Maybe Ford is up to something as they think people will go from Ranger to F150.

It's obvious people want compact trucks but the market is not their. Perfect example is the demise of the manual transmission in full-size and HD Trucks. I could be wrong. Maybe GM is up to something as well.

Time will tell.

@Jake,

Sure buddy. Whatever makes you sleep well at night.

G'nite.

GM, I'd like to see a dessert runner small truck as well, Please make it happen.

@ Frank - the thing that is killing compact/mid size trucks is the retail price and fuel ecomony. The gap between full size and compact is not big enough.
I was at a "mega" car sale where all brands were present on the same site.
A plain jane Toyota Tacoma access cab 2 wheel drive with 4 banger and auto trans. was around 24,000.
A Toyota Tacoma Double cab 4x4 TRD was pushing 38,000.
A GMC Canyon 4x4 was 30,000 with rebates.
I could get an F150 SuperCrew short box with 3 valve 4.6 and 6 speed auto after rebates for 34,000.
GM/Chev crewcab 4x4's were 30,000 - 34,000 after rebates.
Same goes for Ram.

That's why the market sucks.
Maybe Ford is right.
Why buy the econobox when you can get a full size for a slight premium.

@Lou,

EXACTLY!! Thank you.


As for you're comment regarding:


"Toyota Tacoma Double cab 4x4 TRD was pushing 38,000".

This is freakin outgrageous. For that price, I'd get a Raptor and have real fun with it.

Use the 2.4L from the Terrain and Equinox with an 5m or 5 speed auto and get 22/30 mpg - but offer it for both 2wd and 4wd.

For more power and one hell of a ride, stuff the 3.6 DI 300 hp engine from the Camaro and CTS (already rear-wheel drive platform engines) and achieve 18/26 mpg - but be sure to offer the 6m and 6L60e tranny with it.

Problem is GM is probably thinking along the lines of a pickup version of the Chevy Equinox.

Underpowered? The Colorado I5 engine makes more power (242 HP) than Ranger V6 (207 HP), Dakota V6 (210 HP), and Tacoma V6 (236 HP). Their I4 (185 HP), Ranger I4 (143 HP), Frontier I4 (174 HP), Tacoma I4 (159 HP), even their 4-banger makes more power than the competition. The only midsize-truck that has more power is the Frontier with their V6 (265 HP), but the colorado also has the option of having that 5.3L under the hood.

You forgot torque numbers there Jr.GM or should I say conviently left it out.

The I5 in the Colorado is a piece of junk. GM should have put in a V6 to start with on the Colorado. It certainly would have helped out in sales. The I5 was worst in class in towing and pretty sad in reliability. It was not the leader in class unlike the 4.3L V6 in the second gen S10 when it was available. (with the exception of the pos gas hog Dakota V8)

However I will agree with you that the I4 is a decent design. Use the I4 what it is designed for.. ie commuter its a good engine.

While I would like to see GM get back into the small size truck segment. I dont think a good cost anaylsis can be presented that would support that platform.

My 2 cents.

- DB
'02 S10 ZR2

@Jr. GM

Wow it can make power new like that, how about down the road and that is the issue...

Give respect where it is due, the first GM compact trucks were built by Isuzu!!!

@oxi,

Yup, it was the Chevy Luv. If I recall correctly, Mazda built the Courier for Ford.

ford ranger isa cheap pickup,,,the problem is a small pickup,whit the price of big pickup..

I remember when i had a 1984 GMC S-15 2.8L v6 5-speed stick shift trans, extended cab 4x4. It was a great Little truck, put 230,000 km on it with very few problems( except for lack of power going up the mountain grades). It would be nice to see a nicely equiped new small tuff truck from GM. Too bad diesel would make the little trucks to expensive to build and sell at a reasonable price, although in a mini truck you only really need a fuel efficiant 4 cyl to get the loads the truck can haul around easily enough.

1. Use a small diesel as power
2. Keep size of current Caynon but make it ride better and look like the full size
3. Get the price down into the lowwww 10k range maybe max out at 15k for 4X4. Entry level should be inexpensive.
4. Build a boat load!

I think Mahindra will take care of the smaller pickup Truck Market this December when they debut their small diesel pickup truck in the states!

GM should open a can of whoop-ass on everyone.

Way to go GM! Its about time someone in the big three has seen the light. Build it tough and price it right and watch it fly off the lot! The competition is (boneheadidly) pulling out of the small truck market while the only competitor left is expensive toyota. I see opportunity here.

just when I thought all hope was lost!!!

This is GREAT news

I like the canyon/colorado and the ranger

but the gm twins are CHEAP interior and the ranger is OLD

The only things i ask is that
1) a standard tranny is an option on EVERY TRIM
2)Cheap price not build

I hope GM gets the small truck right this time. IMO, the Isuzu (Chevy Luv) that predated the S-10 was a better truck than the S-10 ever was. Here in Ohio, it's hard to find an S-10 that isn't rusting out . . . like the Vega's of yore . . .

Rumor has it that it is going to be based off the holden platform. Front wheel drive uni-body. Supposedly a hot seller down under.

I love the comfort of a mid sized truck. As much as I need a big work truck I will always drive my dakota around and it is perfect if you just want to collect scrap metal or do some light handy work.

TruckBuilder: the Holden Ute isn't front wheel drive, it's rear wheel and AWD.


Do you think they finally may sacrifice a little bit of power for fuel economy? Car companies are so adamant about improving fuel economy without sacrificing power. But they don't just "not sacrifice" it, they bump it up several notches. We are getting into diminishing returns here. $1200 for 10 more horsepower and 1 more MPG. Yeah thanks, lose 200 HP and give me 15 more MPG. Would be nice to have a bare bones truck that looks nice, and gets me from point A to B hauling 500-1000 Lbs sipping gas like it was tea. Well that's my hope atleast, everyone else always seems to differ from me.

"Small truck buyers have also moved into full-size pickups because - the cost of entry-level half-ton trucks is often close to the price tag of midsize pickups." That is the big mistake. That and the fact that they moved them into the half ton truck territory in size. Almost full in size, almost full in price. Buyers were confused and piss*d. Somebody make a small truck with a small price - rocket science at its finest.

I owned a 1998 GMC Sonoma Highrider.. and sold it around the 160,000 mile marker. I only sold it because the extended cab only seated one, and wasn't going to work with a baby on the way. I had the truck for years and loved it. I did very little to it over the years and worked it hard towing stuff, hauling stuff, and tossing it around in the occasional mud. It's still running and looks great, I keep in contact with the current owner. I sure miss it. GM.. BRING BACK THE S-10 and SONOMA but make them what they used to be please.



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