This summer, we shared with you spy photos of two future GM crossovers. The first – covered by a curious camouflage – was captured testing in Arizona. At first, we thought that this was the next-generation Chevrolet Trax. But a day later, we also caught up to another crossover testing at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan, which turned out to be the actual future Chevy Trax.
Given the differences between the two prototypes, as well as the fact that we had already seen prototypes of the 2020 Buick Encore, the only logical conclusion we reached at the time was that the prototype with the orange digits in their camouflage represented a future GMC crossover – the oft-rumored GMC Granite. But now, we have discovered that the tester in question is also not the future GMC Granite, either.
Instead, new information uncovered by GM Authority has allowed us to confirm with a high degree of certainty that the prototypes captured in Arizona correspond to a future Chevrolet B-segment crossover SUV in development for emerging markets.
The following three data points have brought us to this conclusion.
1. The Camouflage
Some time after capturing the curious crossover in question, we noticed that the particular style of camouflage the prototype was wearing featured two orange digits on each side. Notably, this is exactly the camo pattern used by SAIC-GM – GM’s primary joint venture in China.
That discovery alone automatically made us discard the notion that the prototype in question is slated to be used by GM’s GMC brand. Since the model is being developed by GM’s Chinese joint venture, we initially believe that the vehicle had to either be a Buick or a Chevrolet. And, based on the various styling cues that we can see, we believe that the model in question would fit right in with the Chevrolet design language.
It’s also worth noting that SAIC-GM has previously tested other vehicles the United States, so the fact that a Chinese-market prototype was being tested in the U.S. is no big deal.
2. JBUC Project Code
An IHS Automotive document acquired by GM Authority contains a SAIC-GM project assigned the JBUC program code. This corresponds to an unprecedented subcompact crossover from Chevrolet that’s different from the second generation Chevrolet Trax (9BUC).
Notably, this is the first time that we have seen a GM project code utilize the “JXXX” format. The IHS document relates that the JBUC vehicle program will be based on the VSS-F platform – whose schema is “9XXX”. This, along with the country of origin and the profile of other vehicles that will share the platform (such as the next-generation Cavalier), indicate that the future SUV will not use the VSS-F platform per se, but rather the Global Emerging Markets architecture – otherwise known as the GEM platform.
GEM is a simplified variant of GM’s new VSS-F platform. It was created in conjunction with SAIC specifically for economic, low-cost vehicles are designed by the automaker’s vehicle development houses in China and Brazil.
According to IHS Automotive, the future Chevrolet B-SUV will begin production in July 2019 at the SAIC-GM Norsom plant located in Shenyang, Liaoning, China.
3. Prototype Spied In China With Less Camo
Recently, a prototype was captured in China with the same characteristics as the units we saw in Arizona, only without the black plastic that covered the entire front.
The photos, captured by Auto Home, show that the model in question is, in fact, a Chevrolet. They show that the small crossover incorporates Chevy’s new split grille format, with a generous opening along with multiple horizontal bars. In addition, the shape of the headlights and other details that make is similar in appearance to several existing models from the Bow Tie brand, such as the new Orlando and Chevy Monza.
In short, the three points of information constitute a very solid foundation to claim that the prototypes we captured in August really belong to the future utility of Chevrolet identified with the JBUC code.
Is It The Next-Gen Tracker?
Since 2013, General Motors has marketed the Chevrolet Tracker as a subcompact (B-segment) model in various developing markets around the world, including Latin America and Russia. The model made its way to North America in 2015 as the Trax, albeit with a few changes that gave the product a more “premium” feel for developed markets. We now have reason to believe that the prototype model in question is the next-generation Chevrolet Tracker.
What we believe will take place is that GM will market two distinct B-segment Chevrolet crossovers:
- The Trax for North America and China (high-level segment), which will be a sort of a mini version of the all-new, 2019 Chevrolet Blazer, and
- The Tracker for Mexico, South America, the Caribbean, China (entry-level segment), and ASEAN markets.
The strategy would be highly similar to what Chevrolet has been doing in China for the past few years: offering a global model as a premium version in a given segment (Chevrolet Cruze) alongside a localized version (Chevrolet Cavalier).
Stay tuned to the GM Authority for more information on this model in the coming months as the official reveal nears, along with more Chevrolet news.