Orlando decision is a Ford win

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
Chevy's announcement is good news for Ford. The upcoming Ford Focus C-Max compact minivan has one less competitor.

Late on Friday, news trickled out that GM had pulled the plug on the Chevy Orlando, at least in the states. Sales were penciled in for spring 2011. Ford's C-Max heads to dealers late in 2011.

I saw the Orlando, a seven-passenger compact, last August in GM's design studio, and it is a winner! GM called it a crossover --I called it a compact minivan.

GM will sell the Orlando in Europe, Asia and Canada, but not here.

Why? With new management comes new ideas, and word is that GM doesn't need an offering in every segment. After all, Chevy buyers can pick the five-passenger Equinox or the seven-passenger Traverse. Why cannibalize these sales?Ford's brass is probably still celebrating. The C-Max would have competed buyer-for-buyer with the Orlando -- similar size, similar price, seven-passenger seating.

Last Friday, I could almost hear the pitter-patter of Ford forecasters as they scrambled to their computers, ready to boost C-Max sales projections.