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Monday, October 10, 2011

Chevy to launch new Colorado pickup in U.S.

General Motors said today that it will sell a new, mid-sized truck in the United States under the Chevrolet Colorado nameplate.

GM wouldn't release timing or product details. The company launched production of the new pickup last week in Thailand with plans to roll it out to other markets globally.

It's unclear if the truck also will be sold under the GMC brand, which currently sells Colorado's sister vehicle, the Canyon. GMC spokesman Joseph LaMuraglia said only: "We do not comment on future product plans."

The pickup is based on GM's new global, body-on-frame, rear-drive platform for mid-sized trucks.

GM didn't say today where the U.S. version would be built, but last month, the UAW disclosed that GM intends to build a new, mid-sized pickup at its Wentzville, Mo., assembly plant. GM's plan was part of the new four-year UAW contract inked last month.

In a statement, Chris Perry, Chevrolet's vice president of global marketing and strategy, said: "We think the design, capability and fuel efficiency of the new Colorado will make it attractive to U.S. customers."

The truck will be larger than the current Colorado, which is considered a compact. The vehicle lineup being launched in Thailand will include two-wheel and four-wheel drive and extended-cab and crew-cab variants.

The engine lineup includes both gas and diesel, including new 2.5-liter and 2.8-liter turbo diesel engines.

GM said it would disclose more information about the U.S., version, including engine availability, at an unspecified date. The company said engineers will "tailor the truck to meet local needs."

The fate of the Colorado and Canyon have been in doubt since 2009, when GM said it would close the Shreveport, La., plant that assembles the truck by June 2012. Many industry insiders speculated that GM might discontinue the vehicles, given their tepid sales.

The prospect of a next-generation Colorado was revived in March, when GM unveiled a next-generation concept at an auto show in Thailand.

U.S. sales of the Colorado are up 30 percent this year through September to 23,985 units. U.S. sales of the Canyon have climbed nearly 35 percent to 7,634.

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