Currently, General Motors sells two very different versions of the Chevrolet Colorado. The first is the Chevrolet Colorado for international markets such as Southeast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia), Oceania (Australia, New Zealand), and the Middle East, as well as the Chevrolet S10 in South America. The other Chevrolet Colorado is the version sold in North America. While the two have different styling, powertrain components, and interiors, they are related, as they ride on different versions of the same GM 31XX platform. But when it comes time for the next-gen Colorado, it’s possible GM will merge these two models into one single product sold around the world.
Before going into how the two Colorado models could be merged into one, we must first take a trip down memory lane to understand how we got here in the first place.
A Tale Of Two Trucks
In the late 1990s, General Motors partnered with Isuzu to offer a midsize pickup truck for international markets such as Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. The goal was to create a midsize pickup that would cater to the tastes and expectations of international markets as opposed to those of North America.
The first fruit of the collaboration was introduced in 2002 as the first-generation Isuzu D-Max. This model went on to be sold as the Chevrolet D-Max, Holden Colorado, Holden Rodeo, Isuzu KB, Isuzu LB, Chevrolet T Series, and various other names. Furthermore, this model was somewhat related to the first-gen Chevy Colorado sold in the U.S., as the platform used to build the U.S.-spec Colorado was loosely derived from the same GMT355 architecture.
In 2011, the two automakers introduced the GMT 31XX platform for the second-generation of the international-market Isuzu D-Max and Chevrolet Colorado/S10. At that time, GM had no plans to introduce a midsize pickup in the United States and Canada, but those plans changed. GM decided to use the GMT31XX platform as the basis for the U.S.-market midsize model. And that’s how the second-generation Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon that we know and love today were born.
|Southeast Asia, South America (select markets)
|Southeast Asia, Africa, South America (select markets)
|South America (select markets), Mexico (until 2018)
|Australia, New Zealand
|USA, Canada, Mexico (starting in 2018)
In that regard, the current Colorado/Canyon sold in the U.S. are not total clean-sheet designs, since they use the same basic platform as the international-market models. However, the second-gen Colorado and Canyon are also vastly different from international-market units, with different wheelbases, powertrains, exteriors, and cabins.
Back to the GM-Isuzu partnership: all seemed to be going smoothly in 2013 and 2014. But shortly thereafter, GM started to make strategic changes to its presence in Southeast Asia, leading to a dissolution of the GM-Isuzu midsize truck partnership in 2016.
Now that it’s “free” from Isuzu, GM can do what it pleases with regard to its midsize pickup trucks. The strategy that makes the most sense is merging the two related-but-separate vehicles into one global model (albeit with some regional adaptations) in order to take full advantage of scale economies.
A lot has changed since GM inked its deal to develop and build pickups with Isuzu. Perhaps the biggest change is that midsize pickup trucks have regained their popularity in North America, winning over customers who aren’t interested in a crossover or a full-size pickup truck.
Granted, the preferences of midsize pickup truck buyers in North America are somewhat different than those in South America and Southeast Asia. Specifically, the models in the latter markets tend to cost less and have more car-like styling. But at the root of it all, midsize truck customers the world over still want a solid truck that’s capable, while also not breaking the bank. Any regional differences in customer needs can be addressed via different equipment packages and, if need be, fascias.
Global Models For The Win
In its partnership with Isuzu, General Motors was paying to develop and manufacture two rather different types of midsize trucks. But merging those models will save GM money in the long run, a direction that the New GM is very much a fan of.
A big component of achieving this is GM’s VSS-T platform. The architecture, or more appropriately, the vehicle set, aims to unify all GM body-on-frame models, including pickups and SUVs, into a single, highly-scalable architecture, regardless of size.
It’s unclear what General Motors will do. However, not merging the two trucks would be a missed opportunity for the company as it attempts to trim any unnecessary fat for an uncertain future. The GM 31XX platform already underpins both of the current models, so making them the same truck should be a no-brainer.