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

We were told that it would be a uni-body design and not a body on frame design. That is why they claim we won't get it because we are set up to run traditional body on frame and that one of the closed uni-body car plants would be easier and cheaper to get tooled up. But you can't believe anything that GM say's so we will just have to wait and see. Because under the new image GM is the exact same company that they were before the fake bankruptcy.

Never say never but, It'll never happen.

" 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."

Mike, this sounds like the Malaysian Proton pretty underpowered to be really useful. Not much payload and limited towing potential.

GM please let it be body on frame desing.
Thank you!

i own and drive a 97 s10 and i love it. if they are gonna get back into this market there are a couple things they need to do, offer a small diesel with a 6 speed auto, keep the vortec 3.7l as an option, and finally since they killed hummer bring back the zr2 give it 33's and lockers and front and rear solid axles!!!!! id be the first person to buy one!

Hey ford?! are ya listening? people still want a small pickup!

I left the compact trucks for a mid-size, the cabs did not offer the space for us and carry gear behind the seats...

I do not seek a full-size, too big and heavy and wide for off-roading and they typically lack proper ground clearance for their weight...

Nope, mid-size is good for us, plenty of room in the cab (I have Access cab), still got a decent 6 foot bed in back and simply swapping in a pair of adjustable Bilstein 5100's up front and BFG 265/75's, I am over 12 inches of front ground clearance already!

GM, Ford, Nissan, VW and Fiat have compact pick ups in South Africa.

GM through its Opel brand called the Corsa. The motors range from a 1.4 petrol to a 1.7 turbo diesel, the entire range gets excellent gas milage and are really good work trucks for their size.

Ford has the Bantam with a 1.6 motor. It's one of the best on the market excellent performance, payload, reliability.

VW has the Caddy, not a big fan its basically a Jetta with a bin on the back. It' does the job but the corsa and bantam are far superior.

Nissan has a small compact called Champion. Very popular little vehicle too. It won't sell here to be fair.

Fiat hasn't had to much experience but the ground work has been layed and there is potential for a better product evolution.

All in all GM and Ford can bring their products over here and they'll compete very well with the Tacoma. Their mpg's would be a better selling point by itself.

wow GM the S10 sales are really really bad and yet they still want to spend money on making somthing that no one is buying sounds like a smart one Goverment motors not.

I love my 04 Colorado it has the I5 and has been great to me. I wish GM had started offering the V8 option earlier though but oh well. I plan to keep my colorado for a while and I plan to drop a a LS based V8 into it.

I think the unibody could work. Make it like a hybrid of the s10 and the el camino. Offer a reg cab w/ 7-8 foot bed and ex cab w/ 5-6 foot. Engine choices would be 4-cyl gas and diesel and a v6 gasser for a sport model. 4x4 would have to be an option, but if this isn't designed to be an off road monster, maybe use a single speed transfer case to keep weight down. If 1st gear is low enough, you don't really need low range anyway. I drew up this concept w/ a charger front clip when I heard they were replacing the dakota, now I need to figure out what a chevy would look like

Have to agree with Mike L. An I-4 gas engine coupled with a turbo should supply sufficient horsepower and torque to perform most jobs a compact truck will be put through. You guys need to get off this fixation of a diesel engine. Sure, the torque numbers may be greater. But the government is not slowing down on imposing stiffer emission standards. So the cost to you keeps rising. Look at what's happening to the full size products and the sticker shock it's creating. Can't justify it on a compact truck (especially with diesel fuel prices where they are today). I hope GM considers this proposal.

I hope this actually comes about, the S-10s were reliable to a fault, with decent mileage and power for their time. I see lots of people bringing up diesel, but with engine cost, emissions, and higher fuel costs, A diesel doesn't make sense in a small truck. The higher mileage would take 5-10 years to recoup the added costs.
Requirements to make this right:
1. Body-on-Frame: Needed for good capability
2. Styled after the new Silverados, or a new-retro of the old S-series
3. DI 2.4 for the 2wd Models
4. DI 3.6 for the 4x4 Models and 2wd Option
5. Manual Trans available on ALL trim levels
6. Manual Transfer Case option! I don't trust the switch!
7. Regular Cab, Extended Cab, and Crew Cab
8. Best for last: Bring back the ZR2 Option as a TRUE off-road trail truck! My old ZR2 was just the right size for this.

If the 3.6 can get 30mpg in the Camaro, there's no reason it can't hit that mark in an S-10 sized truck. Granted, the ZR2 Package with a DI 3.6 will be getting pricey, but I think it could still compete. I mean, the Camaro sells for 24k with a 3.6, no reason the new ZR2 S-10 can't come in around 25-26K, which would be a heck of a deal! And a DI 2.4 in a 2WD should be under 20K and push mid-30s mpg with a stick.

Unfortunately, up until now, the big three have only seen dollar signs when they think of trucks. This has caused them, in my opinion, to move away from the motivating factor behind most small truck purchases - fuel efficiency and price. If mileage is only marginally better, and price is only marginally cheaper, yes, people will opt for the bigger truck. These makers have constructed their own market decline.

Mike, I'd be curious to see an article about the cost differentials between small and big trucks over the years, say GM small and large in the 80's, 90's and today. I'll bet the gap has gotten a lot smaller. I'd make the same guess about fuel efficiency too.


@Lou - you mention "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".

As a truck guy who is now a happy camper with a new Taco DouleCab PreRunner 2WD driver, i'd like to add my two cents.

Here in the Tampa area, $24K will get you very close to what i paid for mine mentioned above (well $27K with T,T,T). I have pretty much everything a Taco could have except the front differential.

My gas mileage is approx 20-21 every tank, closer to 20 when i run the A/C and closer to 22 in the cooler months w/o it.

But you're right about the 4x4 TRD pushing $40K, for that price i'd be driving a full-size Bow-Tie Duramax crewcab...maybe a year or two old but still has hundreds of thousands of miles left on the engine and tranny.

Speaking of Chevy trucks, i traded in my S10 last November for my Taco (and as i've referenced in a previous blog) i went looking for full-size Chevy,Ford,Dodge and none of them would come down in price (low/mid $30K range). So i started looking at midsize trucks and what's really left besides the Taco and Ranger? The Dakota looks like a combination of things and no one ever made up their mind on how it should finally look, and the Colorado/Canyon terrible twins rode and looked like crap. The Ranger looked nice but rode like i was sitting on the rails. I wanted to buy American, but after one test drive in the Taco, i knew that night that was the truck i was going to get.

Long story short, to each his own, what we buy is based on family needs/consideration, our budgets, and then our pride. I originally wanted a different truck, but after test driving all midsize and fullsize trucks, the Taco fit the bill and met all my needs. Isn't that what it's really all about?

Having constructive comments about another brand is fine, but continually bashing someone else's ride means you just don't get it. I see ya'll at Ocala National Park's dune trails!


Bring back the utility of the truck! The ever shrinking box size is terrible. The 6 foot box was the SHORT box years ago. Now it is the long box with 5 foot and 4 foot boxes becoming common. I want a truck to haul things not just be an open-trunked car. Best small truck I ever had was an '87 Jeep Commanche with a 7 foot box and 4.0 liter engine.

Dear GM, have a diesel available and make it more attractive than the Mahindra truck (should be easy to do) and I will buy it.

Don E. - totally agree. Bring back the utility of trucks and make the base bed size 6' and nothing smaller. Sure, offer trucks that people/families are cross shopping with SUVs - with all the extras, but sell real utility trucks again at good prices and the cool factor still in and the luxury out. Anything smaller than a 6' bed means it's being used like an SUV not a truck.

Lest we have all forgotten about the BNT concept from just last year. For those that don't know what that means google it and look for the blogs from the design studio. Great stuff. I think if GM can pull it off it could be a major cash cow.

Thumbs up to GM for reconsidering small trucks! I actually like the Tacoma but with no real competition except the elderly Ranger, there's no motivation to keep the price down. Re the diesel issue, I'd love to see one as much as the next guy but with our emissions regs, that may be unrealistic. The current direct-injected 4's and small 6's make enough power/mpg and if they can keep the weight down and give me a manual transmission with 4wd, I'll be perfectly happy.

Maybe this move will spur Ford into bringing the global Ranger stateside...I really hope so. And maybe with an EcoBoost 4...

@hoodman - Listing the prices I observed at a sale is not bashing.
In my home town the Toyota dealer does not budge from MSRP. the same goes for the Toyota dealerships in towns close by.
My wife and I bought a 2010 Sienna last fall. The only real competition was the Honda. They did not budge from MSRP either. We did not like the Grand Caravan. We had one and it was a POS. There isn't much competition left in the mini van ranks.
Trucks on the otherhand - are hugely competitive price wise, with the exception of Toyota. Again- the dealers in my area do not budge from MSRP.
A Toyota Tacoma Double cab 4x4 would be the perfect truck for my family but I can get a GM, Ford, or Dodge full size (with factory discounts for close to the same price). A GM 1/2 ton crewcab is almost the same length as a Taco double cab long box.

"Maybe this move will spur Ford into bringing the global Ranger stateside...I really hope so. And maybe with an EcoBoost 4..."

The Global Ranger will be as big or bigger than the Tacoma.

Whats the proposed timeline for this project ?

My 98' Sonoma/4.3 V6 is running great with very few problems! Good solid, fun to drive pick-up. GM you have the technology and the new preppy V6 awaiting. Bring it on....... .

@DB

I've had a 95 S-series truck with the 4.3 V6 and it was a piece of $hit compared to the 3.5 I5 in my Canyon. The I5 is so much smoother, and aside from the cylinder head issues fixed for free by GM, is reliable. Compare that to the constant fuel injection issues with the 4.3. The S-Series could never get 25 mpg hwy in a Crew Z-71. And the S-Series highway handling was unstable feeling at best.

People who complain about the ride quality in a Colorado/Canyon should be driving a car. For a truck, it has almost too smooth of a ride. Go drive a HD truck and then compare the ride.

For the looks, it has a very similar design to the 03-06 Silverados and the Avalanche... but apparently those trucks are not ugly? The sales have suffered because GM doesn't promote the trucks or keep much inventory. When was the last time you saw a GM commercial for either of these trucks?...2005?

My only complaint with my truck at 50,000 miles is the interior, its blah and has some minor rattles, but thats it. I venture to say that most of the people bashing the Colorado and Canyon have not driven one or owned one.
Mine is an 06, before that I have driven an S-series, Silverado 2500, and a 1500 Suburban, so I'm not a newbie when it comes to trucks.

and considering you can't buy a Civic for less than around $15K, how do some of you expect them to build a decent truck for that ?

Design an S-10 for 2010+ and put the 1.4 turbo that's going in the Chevy Cruze in it. Done!

I love my Canyon. I got a high of 25 mpg & avg 19 mpg mixed driving (inline 5 3.7 liter). As for towing, it's rated @ 5500 lbs. Plenty for my needs. The interior is quiet. It has 4 doors (crew cab) and the climate control & sound system are OK. I usually replace the stock sound system soon after I buy a vehicle. I haven't had to in my Canyon. If you want ear-bleeding bass, go ahead & replace it. Anyone who says "it's got poor build quality, the interior sucks, bad for towing" apparently has never been in one! They are obviously homers for Taco's, Rangers, or gas-guzzler Dakotas. One thing I enjoy is watching the "HEMI's" on the flanks of the Dodges try to catch me as I zip by on the interstate. They downshift & burn a lot of gas to try & regain their "road honor" but most just give up when they can't pull me in. Too bad, so sad! It's fun to drive my Canyon, it's comfortable & my 90+ yr. old in-laws find it easy entry & comfortable to ride in the rear seats. As for price, I did Cash for Clunkers & negotiated my way to 33% off MSRP total. You aren't that good at bargaining? Sorry, take up scrap metal collecting, start with your local used car ads for the inefficient gas guzzler full-size p-u's there. Oh, by the way, I traded in a GMC Sierra with 158K mi that got 12 mpg. for my fun-to-drive Canyon. Go to colorafofans or 355nation wewbsites to see what the owners say about their trucks.

2.4DI base, 2.0T, and a V6 to appease the skeptics. 6-speeds across the board. Target: 30 mpg highway. Next time oil spikes people are gonna re-think how much truck they really need.

“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. “ I agree – this segment is in dire need of something new. But I’m afraid GM is years away from bringing a compact pickup to the market. I’m personally more excited about the news that Mahindra’s pickups will start to appear in showrooms by December 2010. Their diesel compact pickups actually exist and are ready to take on the US market. Based on what I’ve read, these trucks will deliver great performance and mileage (30 MPG) at an affordable price.

Chevrolet should remember to "give the customer what they want" and then market it properly

Long overdue. They have a chance to build something really cool, and appealing to a wide demographic. Let's hope they do.

I had a 95 s10 4cyl 5 speed and the trans blew at 90000 and then I blew a head gasket before 100000, If I ever have the desire for another small Gm truck I hope someone slaps me, I guess they were ok as long as you didn't put a load on them but if you worked the little thing it wouldnt hold up. Other than reliabilty problems it was a nice driving truck.

The Mahindra release is being held up by GM/Mahindra purchase agreement. But this is a secret so please don't tell anybody.

The 2010 Toyota Tacoma is a peice of crap they got to big and the ride is worst than any truck you have rode in and the seats are typical Toyota very uncomfortable, I bought a new 2007 Tacoma and drove it only 1200 miles, the engine surged me into traffic, complained to the dealer,he said it was normal, test drove the 2010 its the same dam truck as the 2007, drive one on a short trip, your back will be killing you, and the noise level is terrible, gas mileage poor, price way to HIGH!

Die Colorado!!!!!!

Die Colorado!!!!

I have a 2010 Tacoma and absolutely love it. It gets a good 5 to 6 mpg better than the 1999 Ranger I just got rid of. Actually, I think the full sized trucks get as good, or close to Rangers in the mpg catagory. Maybe that's why their end is near.

Build it in springhill TN and you will make a boat load of money

you are crazy my truck is awesome i get around 25 mpg in my i5 colorado and its lifted better then s10 no questions asked if you think otherwise go test drive one then the other if u like the 355 more the s-dime your smart if not whatever get over it s10 is dead for a reason guys

Bring back the GMC SYCLONE!!!!!!! I WANT ONE!!!!

i'm 24 and i'm from Germany.
my first truck with 18 was a s10 91 with a 2,8L engine.
and now i drive since 4 years a s10 4x4 2000 with a 4,3L engine and i love my truck. i hope the next generation will become the name s10 back. and i hope they bulid a powerversion like syclone. 5,3L 6speed transmission something like that ore a 4,5L duramax diesel.

had a late 80 ts ranger with manual n 4x4 with 2.6 L just fine drive all week on a tank of gas with nitrogen shocks it drove like a sports car/ loved it/ price was good my sons took my lead we bought 3 at once/ who decides what i like

Bring on the compact pickup again: cheap, no frills, reliable.

As for the "reliable" bit, I'll have to wait to see what the General does and not buy in the first year. Been there, done that, replaced too many trannies :)

I bought a 97 S10 new in jan 97 with 2.2 five speed and still loving it after over 13 years. I know it won't last forever and would love to see GM revive the S10 with a new ecotec 4 cylinder 5 speed with just the basics. My truck always gets over 25mpg around town and probably at least 30mpg on the highway no matter how I drive it. I think a new truck should at least get this kind of mpg taking into account it would have more horsepower and be lighter than my current S10. Also it has to have RWD, Cab, Bed, and Frame in order to be a truck. I've read some speculation about it being a unibody design but this would just make it an elcamino no matter how you slice it. We want a truck that is around $15,000 without all the bells and whistles. I don't even want AC myself and don't think it should be standard but a comfortable seat and good looking aluminum wheels are a must.

Larry Edsall's comments are spot on and exactly the way I feel. He echoes the needs of many of us. Efficient, modest sized pickup that is not a monster in a parking lot or a long-distance torture chamber. I believe all of the manufacturers -- except maybe Mahindra --misunderstand that a diesel compact pickup will sell well to a segment of the market. The mass marketing people have missed the concept of a profitable, stratified market, opting instead for a mass, homogenized one.

Personally, when I went to buy my truck, I wanted the smallest available... The Canyon was too tall, and the dakota was longer... So I grabbed the Ranger, and I've been happy with it. I live in downtown toronto, and I got sick of not having space for something and trying to cram stuff in the back of the car, but driving the F-150's I've rented felt like I was driving a bus.... I'm a little guy so I don't need extra leg room. If whatever the put out makes me as happy as the Ranger does.. i'll buy it, but I'm gonna drive this baby into the ground first.

Why can't we get the good small-size pickups already available with diesels in Europe? They have been available for years with lower climate changing emissions than most US cars?

What is the problem and does it lie in Detroit or Washington?

Factual Insights Please?

. . .about some comments that the 355 (colorado/canyon) are ugly. Are you serious? These are THE BEST looking trucks in my opinion currently offered across the board! Yes, the price point is off but go price a dakota compared to a Ram or Tacoma to a Tundra. What's left to be said? And some complaining that the spartan interiors are cheap? Good God, these are trucks, people. We, as spoiled Americans have gotten too used to being pampered in every way including our vehicles. If you want luxury in your ride, go buy an escalade or a navigator!



The comments to this entry are closed.