by Jeff Gilbert
LOS ANGELES — (WWJ) As General Motors unveils a new compact pickup, Ford is using its appearance at the LA Auto Show to look further into the future.
The new Chevy Colorado plays in a segment that Ford vacated a few years ago, and is now owned by Toyota and Nissan. GM calls the Colorado a “lifestyle vehicle” aimed more at those who are interested in taking their bikes with them, or hauling gardening supplies.
“The Colorado is going to be positioned more at an activity, accessory type buyer, who uses it more in maybe a lighter duty type way,” said GM North America President Mark Reuss.
Reuss also feels it will help General Motors to have smaller trucks, as fuel economy standards become tougher.
Full size pickups are also becoming more expensive. Chevrolet marketing chief Alan Batey said he believes that many people who might need the utility of a smaller truck, shunned larger vehicles because they were more than they wanted or needed.
“With a full size pickup truck, they basically have a lot of space and capability they never use.”
With the Ranger gone, and the Dakota on hiatus, this puts General Motors head to head with the imports.
“We took the route that we really felt this was an opportunity,” said Batey. “We know some of our competitors are not going to go into this.”
The Los Angeles Auto Show was a logical place to launch the Colorado, as California’s best-selling truck is not the Ford F-150. It’s the Toyota Tacoma.
“There is a propensity here for a smaller truck,” said Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell. “People want a truck, but the larger ones are hard to drive around, and fit into parking spaces in an urban environment.”
Ford meanwhile has a concept version of what the next generation Edge SUV will look like. The styling is more of an update from the current crossover vehicle.
“Edge has a great balance between accommodating and dominating,” said chief designer Kevin George.
The concept unveiled in Los Angeles Is a combination of design and new technology. That technology includes crash avoidance systems, plus an advanced system that will allow you to get out of the car, and have it park itself.
Edge marketing chief Jacques Brent wouldn’t give a timetable for deployment of the new technology. But, he said it’s most likely sooner, rather than later.
“We’d like to think of being able to make the driver smarter, safer and more efficient,” he said. “These technologies are there to support the driver, and not necessarily take over the driving of the vehicle.”
Ford plans to export the Edge to a number of markets globally, including China. The company’s vice president of marketing, Jim Farley, says the global utility segment has risen 45 percent in the last six years.
“The whole world is falling in love with the utility silhouette. It’s prestigious.”
Jeff Gilbert is covering the LA Auto Show. Follow him on Twitter @jefferygilbert. You can also check out facebook.com/carchronicles.
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