When it comes to compact pickups, U.S. consumers have a few options on the table, with more on the way. Hyundai and Ford are both in the segment, while Ram will be soon. While GM does offer a compact pickup via the Chevy Montana, it isn’t sold stateside. So then, in light of the expanding compact pickup segment in the U.S., the question has to be asked – what would it take for GM to sell the Chevy Montana in the United States?
Let’s start by briefly summarizing the situation so far. At present, the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz both fill the compact pickup niche, while GM Authority recently reported that the forthcoming Ram Rampage would be introduced in the U.S. market as well. That leaves GM high and dry without a clear rival for any of these models.
That is, at least in the United States. GM already offers the next-generation Chevy Montana in South America and Mexico, so why not sell it in the U.S. as well?
For a number of reasons, actually. For starters, the Chevy Montana would need to pass crash test certification, and thus would require a rework in terms of materials and front end design. Further modifications would need to be applied to the suspension system in order to adapt to U.S. roadways and meet customer expectations.
The engine would also need to get swapped for more power and emissions certification, with the most obvious choice being GM’s turbocharged 1.3L I3 L3T gasoline engine, which puts out 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque in models like the Chevy Trailblazer and Buick Encore GX.
That said, the L3T is only built in South Korea, so other engine options could include the turbocharged 1.5L I4 LSD (175 horsepower, 203 pound-feet of torque) equipped by the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain, or the turbocharged 2.0L I4 LSY (228 to 235 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque) equipped by the Buick Envision, Chevy Blazer, Cadillac XT4, and others. In addition, the Montana is front-wheel drive only.
Then there’s the problem of assembly. Ideally, a U.S.-spec Chevy Montana would be produced in North America, as the pickup is currently built in Brazil. But where in North America? Given the Montana’s affordable price tag and low margins, a lower-cost production region would be preferable, with the GM San Luis Potosí plant in Mexico being one option, if there’s capacity. Outside North America, China is obviously out, but the GM Bupyeong plant in South Korea could be one option. If production in the U.S. is a must, the GM Fairfax plant in Kansas might work, as the Fairfax facility currently builds the Chevy Malibu and Cadillac XT4, but has no future products announced thus far.
So, to sum up – selling the Chevy Montana in the U.S. would certainly be a challenge, but not impossible.