GM should give Orlando a second look for U.S.

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
I think GM is missing an opportunity for its U.S. Chevrolet dealers.

After taking a good look at the Orlando at the Paris show, I believe there’s a good market for a compact minivan in the United States.

The Orlando is a seven-passenger minivan. The third row is essentially for kids. For singles, with the seats flat, there’s plenty of space to carry bikes or camping gear. You could add a luggage rack and position a kayak on the roof. The vehicle is attractive, substantial-looking, and it shares a front-drive vehicle platform with the Chevrolet Cruze. The Cruze, a four-door sedan replacing the Chevrolet Cobalt, went on sale here last month.

The Orlando debuted at the Paris show. It will be sold in markets outside North America. Interestingly, it was engineered for the United States. But this year GM pulled the plug on this market. No explanation was given.

Chevrolet has a small-car strategy for the United States. It is tied to the five-door Spark hatchback, which will arrive in 2012; the redesigned Aveo four-door sedan and five-door hatchback, which are heading to dealers this year; and the Cruze sedan.

I see a pattern here -- sedans and hatchbacks, sedans and hatchbacks.

That’s fine. But Chevy dealers need a bit more variety to woo small-car buyers.

Chevy dealers need a compact minivan, too.