The Chevy Trax would be a true global vehicle, if it were made available in the United States. The subcompact crossover, which will soon be available in more than 140 countries including Mexico and Canada, will not make its way to the US of A since it “would have never worked” due to financial and packaging reasons, according to GM North America President Mark Reuss. The engineer-turned-executive also mentioned the fact that the Trax doesn’t sport Chevy’s new design language — as seen on the 2014 Impala — as a barrier to the car coming Stateside.
Coincidentally, Reuss also said that Buick dealers are excited to have a unique-to-Buick vehicle in the Encore — referring to the fact that the Trax, the Encore’s platform mate, isn’t making its way to the States, while Opel/Vauxhall has the Mokka, but only in Europe. Preorders for the Encore have already exceeded GM’s expectations.
The GM Authority Take
Reuss’ reasons for the Trax not making it to the States
doesn’t didn’t make sense to us on so many levels. Following are our original reasons for not understanding the reason behind GM’s decision to not bring the Trax Stateside; since Mr. Reuss’ reply (below), we have a better grasp to not make the subcompact crossover available here:
- Let’s start with the supposed financial dilemma. The Trax is built on GM’s Gamma architecture that also underpins the Chevy Sonic… and guess where the Sonic is built? At GM’s Lake Orion Assembly plant in Michigan, of course.
Given that GM is able to profitably produce the subcompact Sonic in the U.S., we see no reason the same can’t apply to the Trax — which, being an SUV and all — would likely command a pricing premium over the Sonic, which starts at a low $12,245. So how is it that the Trax can’t be built profitably in the States when its less profitable platform-mate can?
- The packaging excuse is related to GM’s supposed inability to not be able to make the Trax in the U.S. We can’t believe that with the wide collection of GM’s business-focused brain trust, a minor issue of “packaging” can’t be ironed out.
The fact of the matter is that GM doesn’t have a mainstream (non-luxury) compact crossover in its lineup right now — a void that the Trax would kinda-sorta fill. Moreover, GM has already figured out how to price and package the Trax for Canada — a market consisting of buyers similar to those in the United States. So the packaging reasoning doesn’t resonate with us.
- Reuss also mentioned that the Trax doesn’t adhere to Chevy’s latest design language exemplified by the 2014 Impala. We, on the other hand, think it looks great the way it is and are of the opinion that it matches the Chevy corporate look just fine: it has the dual split grille, swept-back headlamps, a distinct shoulder line, and overall looks similar to the Cruze and all-new 2013 Chevy Malibu. Apparently, the all-new ‘Bu doesn’t’ abide by the styling guidelines of the 2014 Impala, either…
- Furthermore, if the Trax — an all-new vehicle — really doesn’t abide by Chevy’s latest design principles, we’d like to know why the vehicle’s design was green-lit, as is, in the first place.
- And even after considering all of that, we wonder if consumers really care about whether the vehicle meets a common design theme set out by the brand in the first place. Again, it seems to us that the Trax fits the Chevy family just fine.
The Real Reason?
None of Reuss’ reasons make much sense to us. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we thought of it all, but it seems that GM could have elected to build the Trax at its Orion Assembly in Michigan alongside the Sonic, and supplied the vehicle to the North American market in this fashion.
However, it seems that the real reason for the Trax’s absence from the U.S involves GM’s fear of cannibalizing the wild success of the Chevy Equinox/GMC Terrain crossovers, which have recently reached the 1 million mark.
Perhaps Mr. Reuss should have just come out and said that the Equinox/Terrain are significantly more profitable for The General — which seems to be the real reason for not bringing the Trax Stateside. But at least the rest of the world will get it…
Update: Mr. Reuss has replied to us in the comments with the following:
I did say it would cannibalize Equinox. Just no media picked up and reported it. Also, we would have been last in the cadence in US, with a very short life cycle and older but nice styling. When we asked customers in the US what they would pay for it, the short cycle of tooling it here would never make sense financially, and option of taking it from Korea then really made it impossible.
As such, it seems that the timing for producing the Trax in the U.S., along with an overall short vehicle lifecycle, would have truly made it impossible to build the vehicle here. We can only assume that the timing dilemma is related to the all-new Equinox, which is expected to land sometime in 2015 and shrink to become a compact crossover as it makes a transition to GM’s new D2 vehicle architecture. In doing so, the Trax may be uncomfortably close in size to the new ‘Nox in North America, where it would only enjoy a three-year window before seeing internal competition from the all-new Equinox.
All in all, it’s still rather unfortunate that GM got stuck in this kind of position to begin with; who knows, perhaps the Trax could have been a magnet for new-to-GM customers… however, a business decision was made — and that’s the long and short of it. We would like to sincerely thank Mr. Reuss for taking the time to discuss this with us and to comment on the matter first hand.