Chevrolet often serves as the ambassador for General Motors, creating an image for the automaker and creating lifelong customers. But in Thailand, the Bow Tie brand’s lineup has languished, creating one of the saddest Chevrolet lineups ever. Customers in the country have just two choices – the international version of the Chevrolet Colorado and the Chevrolet Trailblazer (pictured below). That water drop sound are the tears of Chevrolet fans the world over.
Sure, Thailand will soon get the new “Chevrolet” Captiva, though the crossover is a rebadged Baojun 530 from GM’s Chinese joint venture. So by the end of the year, Chevrolet Thailand will have three vehicles in its range – a far cry from the six-car lineup just a few years ago. Here’s how it got here.
In 2014, the Chevrolet lineup in Thailand consisted of the Trailblazer, Colorado, Cruze, Sonic, Spin, and Captiva – not the new Chinese one, but the Theta-based, three-row model developed by GM Korea that was initially introduced in Korea as the Daewoo Winstorm. Then, in 2015, GM announced plans to restructure its business in Southeast Asia, reducing its local manufacturing footprint and cutting the number of models to just the Trailblazer, Cruze, Colorado, and Captiva – which, at the time accounted for 75 percent of Chevrolet sales in Thailand.
Shortly thereafter, GM stopped offering the Cruze in Thailand. The first-gen Captiva was discontinued in Korea at the end of last year, with GM deciding to replace it with the rebadged Baojun 530 from China.
All in, Chevrolet’s current lineup makes it look like GM simply gave up on the country and the Southeast Asian market in general. The extremely limited Chevrolet lineup in Thailand is yet another reminder that The General has yet to figure out how to be successful in markets typically dominated by Japanese rivals. As of this writing, Toyota offers 14 models in Thailand, while Nissan and Honda each offer 11.
Meanwhile, GM is tightening its belt as it invests aggressively into electric and autonomous vehicles. However, customers aren’t eager to buy either; electric vehicles continue to make up only a sliver of overall new car sales in the U.S., while being even less popular in emerging markets like Thailand. Like ex-Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen recently stated, consumer demand for EVs is very low and EVs approved for production today would never be approved if they had internal combustion engines because they’re either completely unprofitable, or not profitable enough.
All in, the state of affairs for Chevrolet in Thailand is very sad, and one that GM should turn around in the near future. One of the best ways it could do that is by expanding its lineup and invigorating the interest in its offerings. The way we see it, any of GM’s future Chevrolet models on the GEM platform – like the new Chevy Onix and Tracker – would be perfect for Thailand. The same can be said for the all-new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer midsize crossover SUV and its upcoming three-row variant, as well as the new Chevrolet Trailblazer subcompact SUV (pictured above).
Here’s to hoping that GM International – the GM division responsible for the Thai market – gets in gear sooner rather than later. Because giving Toyota, Nissan and Honda the market seems like a terrible way to compete.