Expanding their global product portfolio, Chevrolet announced the pending addition of a new crossover production vehicle. Being officially presented at the upcoming Paris Motor Show in September, the Chevrolet Trax is a compact crossover utility, five-passenger vehicle with what is said to be class-leading cargo capacity. Loosely based off a design concept as part of Chevrolet’s minicar show car collection in 2007, the production Trax employs a youthful, athletic style. Targeted for 140 countries including Mexico and Canada, one market where the Trax crossover is not expected to be sold is the United States for the immediate future.
A vehicle likely to fill a void of a small utility vehicle missing in the Bowtie brand line-up below their Equinox, the Chevrolet Trax will not be found in United States dealerships during its launch near the end of 2012. If the chorus sounds familiar, the Trax is the second time in the past three years that a compact crossover-themed Chevrolet vehicle is being excluded from the United States market. In 2010, General Motors rebuffed the notion of selling the Chevrolet Cruze-based, 7-passenger Orlando in what is one of the largest single vehicle markets in the world. This announcement came after the initial plans were to include the Orlando MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) in reaction to the spike in fuel prices in 2008. While responding to a reset in a key cost of ownership aspect, Chevrolet’s choice not to include a small crossover vehicle continues to be baffling entry-level and compact car buyers.
With new products such as the Ford C-Max and Fiat 500L reveals the other Detroit Three automakers sees potential sales demand for a smaller utility vehicle in the United States. Reviewing the plans of General Motors as a whole, there will be one compact crossover set for sale through the Buick brand. Billed as a premium compact crossover, the Buick Encore provides a more upscale interpretation on the evolving segment. Showing no concerns regarding over-saturation of the small car marketplace by having the Chevrolet Cruze and Buick Verano together in the United States, a question arises as to why General Motors feels the Chevy line-up will not benefit with a new, smaller crossover utility product. One vehicle shorter than the Chevrolet Equinox, the Chevrolet Captiva Sport is sold for fleet use in the United States but not for regular consumers.
Attempting to fathom this choice, one of the only conclusions I can arrive to is that the Chevrolet division is uneasy about the thought of having a new product potentially taking the luster off another popular vehicle. The Chevrolet Equinox has been a sales darling for the auto brand. An affordably priced family crossover vehicle, the Equinox has shown what Chevrolet could create when they took a car-based utility class seriously. In the first four months of 2012, just short of 70,000 Chevrolet Equinox crossover vehicles were delivered placing it ahead of the Impala and behind the Cruze on the overall sales chart. Innovating so many small crossover or MPV style products for the global market, the hesitation for Chevrolet not to deliver one to the United States reflect on the fact they’re afraid buyers will simply be lured away from the Equinox rather than a competitor’s vehicle.
Another reason for the absence of the Chevrolet Trax is the attitude within the United States auto market preferring crossover vehicles and trucks. Like many products, supply and demand plays a part in the decisions for what vehicles Chevrolet will bring to consumers. While compact crossovers and MPVs are popular in the majority of the world thanks to a wide product assortment, the shortage of these vehicles in the United States does not necessarily set up the most reliable research on demand.
After writing my article declaring the planned exclusion of the Chevrolet Orlando, one reader responded that the General Motors has been without serious contender in the entry-level compact multi purpose vehicle since the loss of the Pontiac Vibe. At least for the foreseeable future of the Chevrolet line-up, the compact utility category potential success will likely be proven through the efforts their competitors. If the segment heats up, Chevrolet could be forced to quickly revise their line-up before they’re completely beaten.
Information and photo source: General Motors