Reuss: Chevy Trax “Would Have Never Worked” In U.S. Due To Financial, Packaging Reasons (Updated)40
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.
- Sweepstakes Of The Month: Win a 2023 Corvette Z06 Convertible. Details here.
It would also have to be cheaper than the Buick so that would undermine those sales. So, if you want a compact CUV you’re forced to go the more expensive route
I don’t think it matters one way or the other. Buick face, Chevrolet face. The fact that it is sold as a Buick in the US, a Chevrolet in Canada, and an Opel/Vauxhall in Europe doesn’t take away from it being a world car. I personally would not want to see a Chevrolet version of this vehicle being sold in the US. What would be accomplished? That would be tantamount to the old badge-engineering that we all scoff at. Not every brand needs to get a version of a given chassis. The benefits of economies of scale does work quite well beyond the shores of the United States. I do agree that Reuss’ explanations sound more like rambling and I agree with the GMA take on the matter…but it’s really nothing to get excited about. I actually prefer the Buick styling theme to that of Chevrolet, Cadillac, or worse…GMC.
But it’s so much more than faces! Styling is one aspect of it, sure — but there are so many other factors to consider here, the most important of which is the (luxury) experience of a Buick. The Encore is to the Trax what the Verano is to the Cruze; it’s the same chassis, but the experience is oh-so-different.
Good deal…nice-looking suv…I can see this as an upscale Cadillac soon….the crest on grill and elegant lines……
I’m a fan of keeping Cadillac pointed in the direction of performance-oriented luxury, and thus am not looking forward to the day of Cadillacs sharing FWD-based GM platforms (such as the Gamma found on the Encore/Trax).
On top of that, before Caddy goes subcompact, they first need to do a compact crossover to take on the X3, GLK, Q5, etc. And from what we know, such a vehicle is in the works based on the RWD Alpha platform:
The issue of design language is interesting and suggests that maybe GM wants to alter Chevy cars sold in the US to better keep up with Ford. Face it, Chevy is a discount car globally while Ford is aiming to be the next VW going so far as to sell their cars as upmarket in China .Once the refresh happens, we will not be getting the global Malibu in the US, either.
I still think design is a lame reason considering it is easy to alter and another varient is being tested in China. Also, why was Spark recently introduced with the ‘old’ language as well as the 2013 Malibu?
I would love to see a US only Chevy take shape but I think that has already happened under the name Buick.
I remember UAW had issues with Spark being an import and that (may) have been an issue with Trax.
As a Buick, Encore will not eat into the sales of a US made model which must have made the pill easier to swallow.
Can an American buy a Trax from Canada and bring it down?
I hate this “design language”. What you get with that is different size versions of the same vehicle. How about looking to the 60’s when GM design was king? Did a Chevelle look like a Nova? Did a Camaro look like an Impala?
It’s all part of the family… nowadays, a vehicle on the road is as good as a rolling commercial for the brand — if it’s easily identifiable, that is.
If you can’t tell a Sonic apart from an Impala, then I think you need glasses.
And if you already have glasses, get another pair and wear them on top of the first.
I’m all for letting the GM brands fight it out like Kia/Hyn. Get rid of Sloan’s ladder. With this said, each brand must focus on unique design aimes at various lifestyle demos.
I love thw idea of Chevy as eclectic global brandmade up of small Opels and Holden cars but it won’t work in 2013 in the era of autobasverts
If sonic is built on lake orionship, then why can’t the encore built here?
Good question, Vic. Good question indeed.
I mean i don’t mind building at korea, but if the Sonic is built here, then they should built the Encore here. Not unless it’s building it right next to the Trax?
I did say it would cannibslize 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.
I am sure production capacity has a lot to do with the decision not to build the Encore at Lake Orion. It wouldn’t make financial sense to add a 3rd shirt at Orion just to add the Encore.
Mark — thank you for your comment. Ironically, I covered your initial comment regarding the cannibalization of the Equinox, but it slipped my mind in writing this particular piece:
In the meantime, I’ve updated this article to reflect your reply.
On a somewhat related note, it’s great to see someone in your position within GM paying attention to the community. It shows true dedication, care, and devotion to your work. We appreciate it!
I’m so tired of the equinox excuse. First the orlando and now the trax. Hey gm I don’t want a f### tahoe. Build something in the usa that I don’t have to mortgage my home to fill up each week. Thanks
If you look at it the GM Authority way – it kind of makes GM look awkwardly inept….I mean, it’s like GM giving Ford that market and admitting the Escape is vastly superior and way ahead with it’s hybrid version. Ford certainly has a wide variety of sizes, pricepoints and powertrains at this moment in time.
I’ll give another take just for discussion –
GM has suggested 2015 is a big year for them. They hinted at new drivetrains and spectacular efficiency. Let’s just say GM may be hard at work developing like-segment vehicles to leapfrog Ford with it’s EREV know-how and mileage superiority. So they bide their time and listen to us wail and moan about the lack of a U.S. Orlando or Trax – and secretly prepare to wow us in 2015 with forward-thinking, amazing new configurations and designs that will leave Ford in it’s wake.
??? Only time will tell. As GM oft says, “Stay tuned”….
Escape is 178″ x 72″
Equinox is 187″ x 72″
Trax is …..166″ x 70″
Size wise the Escape is 12″ longer than the trax and 9″ shorter than the Equinox.
Escape is closer to the Equinox than Trax.
Anyways Mark is saying the reasons why the financials did not work out. YOu can believe or not believe but to bring out the Trax with the current model does not make financial sense. He never said though that the next iteration will not come to the US.
Most likely we will see a Trax sized Chevy in the future and perhaps a slightly larger Eqinox with 7 seat capability.
And I want to add another quick note. Look at the scathing comments GM received when we were the last ones in the cadence to get the Cruze. It was amazing how people complained on how we got an old vehicle.
Then again it is selling just fine, thank you!
What’s the story with the Equinox? Tell me it will at least get a refresh soon, please. Also, this is off-topic, has there been any more word on the Granite?
well granite is being killed and there probably will be refreshed equinox somehow
Reuss can’t say this, but he knows that GM is behind the leaders by 2-3 years in terms of drive train technology and weight savings. To be profitable, I believe GM has decided to focus on higher margin vehicles (Cadillac/Buick) and larger Chevys. There are a couple of token low-cost Chevys (Cruze/Sonic) but as we all know the technology in these is rather dated and the body styles very limited. IMO, GM produced the Sonic just to appease the government.
This is unfortunate, because what most people need are lower-cost Chevys — vehicles that sell for less than 25 K$. Now it may be that in 2015 we will start to see smaller Chevys with direct injection and dry clutch transmissions, maybe even lower-cost hybrids, but I think by then the competition will again leapfrog GM’s plan. It’s an old story.
With all of the government borrowing and promises I believe the dollar is going to fall and the price of cars will skyrocket. If you own an older car the time to buy is right now, not in 2015.
You’re out to lunch. What is so old tech about the Cruze and Sonic? The lack of DI? DI is good tech, but would have raised prices of those models and it has been shown on turbo engines to not have as big of an effect on fuel consumption. The turbo 1.4L is a great little engine. Otherwise, I can’t see where they are using old tech on the Cruze and Sonic. The infotainment system is the best in the non-luxury industry (MyLink), just behind Cadillac’s CUE.
@MattE. Well I think you confirmed what I was saying. GM did not deploy DI, nor did it give us a dry clutch transmission, in order to keep the cost down. But you’ll find these in both the Ford Focus and Mazda 3. According to many reviews, those cars also have better steering feel and handling. The Mazda 3 transmission, in fact, blends the best aspects of what we find in the Focus and Cruze to give the driver something that is not only smooth at low speeds, but efficient while cruising. GM either did not aim for best in class (catering to those concerned about price), or it has not found a way to deploy such technologies in a cost effective manner (i.e., it is behind). Ford and Mazda have shown that they can do it (although Ford had quite a few software-related growing pains).
The Sonic and Cruze are no doubt well-made. It’s just that there does not appear to be anything particularly innovative about them. The same cars could have been produced over 10 years ago. If there is new technology in them, it is subtle. I wish ads were more focused on automobile engineering and technology. Hearing something like “Chevy Runs Deep” does not cut it for me.
@VeranoHatch We all know what’s coming down the pike: the direct-injected 1.6 turbo is a best in class engine — period. So let’s focus our discussion on the future — not the past or present — and assume that the 1.4T will live out its current applications and be replaced with a “modern” engine with DI, etc.
As for dual-clutch transmissions… they’re great to shift — but they have very little real-world impact on fuel economy, as evidenced by the fact that the Cruze and Sonic are still at the top of their respective classes for fuel efficiency despite:
1. The Cruze being a 2008 design
2. The Cruze and Sonic NOT using DI, dual clutch transmissions, and other high-tech gear that has really come into the mainstream over the last couple of years.
So if GM leads NOW with outdated tech, just imagine the results when the latest technology makes its way into the next-gen Cruze, etc.
Also, what @Silent Electrician said.
Alex, how do you know this is Mark Reuss, I guess if his email is in your system then that makes sense… Should I assume that if someone named mark posts that it is Mark Reuss… If it is Mark then yes very cool… I too thank mark for posting… Wish all the more we could see a Trax, I like supporting the Chevy brand and the value for the $$$ I get…
@Yaba — it’s Mark. 🙂
This design language is probably one of the more successful design languages Chevrolet has had in my life time. To me this has been revolutionary… Creating the family look across vehicles brings strong brand recognition and helps define the brand to a broader demographic… The fact that higher end products will have an alternative brand language helps destinguish Chevy as a diverse brand offering both economical and semi luxury.., this new approach is brilliant…
Thx Alex- and yes I can’t say what “veranohatchforus” says because exactly zero of this is true. Govt has zero say or influence on GM business. It’s not an old story either. Which is why we have Sparks at around 13k. Putting things in our portfolio that lose money “just because we can” ends badly.
Mark, but we do have a weight problem. The ATS is a GREAT step in the right direction. Keep on Engineering to get the weight out of future products.
Mark, thank you for responding. In my experience, you are not the only GM manager that has taken to a dialog with customers, which I think is impressive. Kudos. But I must dispute your response. Whereas the government’s (previous) role is conjecture (IMO) on my part, that wasn’t the primary message of the post….
I had forgotten about the Spark (having never seen one on the road). Nevertheless, as a group these cars (Spark/Sonic/Cruze) are targeting people concerned about price as opposed to a customer looking for something small, but premium (i.e., “best in class”). You won’t find direct injection, nor will you find an automatic transmission without the drag of a torque converter. You won’t even find a Gamma II car with a center armrest, and that includes the “luxury” Encore and probably the Traxx. These will sell, but they could sell better.
The Sonic and Cruze are also relatively heavy, so one is giving up fuel efficiency, performance, or both. What I said about being a few years behind is either true, or there has been a decision to target (for now) the lower end of the market with older technology.
I wish GM had a branch like Mazda. GM should be capable of a program like Mazda’s SKYACTIV. We lament the loss of Pontiac.
@VeranoHatchForUS With all due respect man, that’s nonsense.
“You won’t find direct injection, nor will you find an automatic transmission without the drag of a torque converter. You won’t even find a Gamma II car with a center armrest, and that includes the “luxury” Encore and probably the Traxx. These will sell, but they could sell better. The Sonic and Cruze are also relatively heavy, so one is giving up fuel efficiency, performance, or both.”
Perhaps they will sell better, but the Cruze and Sonic still achieve best-in-class fuel economy numbers – without DI and with a “draggy” torque converter.
But never mind all that… we’ve already seen the glorious 1.6T – and there are other powerplants on the way which we haven’t heard about yet. Let’s look at the new 1.6T real quick:
– DI: check
– best-in-class power: check
– lightest in its class: check
There’s no need for a division like Mazda within GM, or for Pontiac. It can and will all be done with Chevrolet. What’s needed is for GM to globalize its new powertrain offerings and complete its powetrain renewal strategy. The guys at GMA wrote about this already:
If the Cruze and Sonic can be best in class with technologically-outdated powertrains and heavier-than-the-rest cars, just imagine what will happen when the technology has caught up (it already has, it just needs to reach North America).
One more thing to keep in mind: you keep mentioning all these things that Mazda is doing with SkyActiv… and they’re great – kudos to them.
But trust me when I tell you that no one tests their powertrains like GM. Mazda doesn’t even come close to the R&D that goes into long-term reliability and durability of GM’s engines or trannys. So you may have some new-fangled tech from Mazda that they developed but didn’t spend the time QAing. GM doesn’t cut corners. This is the biggest reason that the 1.6T isn’t in the States yet.
Why would bringing it from Korea make it impossible…
Alex, cool thx…
I can see them making a Cadillac based off the same platform as the Trax. If they wanted to do that, at least they better make it come standard with AWD, and give it a much better interior.
Had they released it here, maybe I wouldn’t be driving a Nissan today.
I would ask you guys what do you thing about selling to typical American SUV lower/buyer 1.4 l engine in SUV body. Would typical US byer go for it? It took lot of gas price increases to typical SUV lower to accept 4 cylinder SUV, and look it now, it is 4 cylinder/1400ccm engine in the Trax.
Well folks (USA) you got Your Trax. Coming to your local GM dealership near you end of 14 as a 2014. Enjoy!!!