Chevrolet Colorado Midsized Pickup to be Made in Wentzville as GM Tries to Forget Bankruptcy, Hummer and Shreveport

The all-new 2012 Chevrolet Colorado range has single, extended and crew-cab body styles is the product of a five-year, $2 billion vehicle program developed across five continents for customers in more than 60 markets.

General Motors broke ground today on a $380 million plant expansion to its Wentzville Assembly facility to build the newly re-designed Chevrolet Colorado midsize pick-up in 2014.

In the sad language oft used when describing the floundering U.S. economy, GM said it is “creating or retaining” about 1,260 jobs hourly and salaried jobs. The new Chevrolet Colorado is based on an all-new midsize truck architecture developed by GM do Brasil within GM’s global product development organization.

This honest description from GM is an oblique way of noting that the Colorado pickup – which for a time outsold the once dominate but now dead Ford Ranger pickup – and its GMC Canyon sidekick are now built at the soon to be closed Shreveport plant. The Louisiana plant also built gas guzzling Hummers prior to the GM bankruptcy and taxpayer bailout, which resulted in the demise of Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn. Attempts to sell the Hummer business to the Chinese failed, apparently when the Chinese central government refused to approve the deal.

The latest version of the Colorado, which replaced the S10, originally debuted in Thailand last fall. Thailand is the world’s second largest pickup truck market after the U.S because of tax subsidies. In Thailand, the Colorado lineup includes 2wd and 4wd regular, extended-cab and crew cab body styles. Gasoline and diesel engines are available, including a new 2.5-liter and 2.8-liter turbocharged diesel engines that produce broad torque bands engineered for excellent cargo and towing capability. Colorado appears to have all the product attributes that make for a marketplace success. GM has withheld U.S. specifications thus far.

Ford Motor, too, has a brand new Mazda-developed pickup truck that just went into production in Thailand. Ford is billing the compact pickup truck as a global entry – it will be sold throughout Europe, Asia and South America, but thus far, says it has no plans to offer the Ranger in the U.S.

Ford, of course, once dominated the compact pickup truck market in the U.S. until years of product neglect combined with an assault by Toyota and Nissan pushed it to a footnote in the segment. This first forced the closing of Ford’s Edison, New Jersey plant. The remaining plant in Minnesota did not survive the Ford UAW contract last year and is now closed.  It was – and remains – a stunning amount of business to cede to the competition.

The GM expansion – Wentzville builds Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana cargo and passenger vans – comes as Ford Motor insiders say that the company is reviewing its decision to close the Twin Cities plant and drop the fuel efficient Ranger from its lineup this year. Ford executives had maintained for years that the super-sized F-Series pickup was all it needed in the U.S. market. Some still do.

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About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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