DETROIT -- Chevrolet dealers requested nearly 30,000 Colorado pickups in the month since General Motors began taking orders for the mid-sized truck -- about five times more than the company had forecast.
"The dealers' enthusiasm for the Colorado is off the charts," Chevrolet U.S. chief Brian Sweeney told Automotive News Tuesday.
GM began taking orders in early August for the 2015 Colorado and its sibling, the GMC Canyon. The pickups, which went into production this week at GM's assembly plant in Wentzville, Mo., are expected to reach showrooms in October or early November.
GM said today that its dealers ordered about 28,000 Colorado pickups and 14,000 Canyons.
The launch of the Colorado and Canyon is among the most closely watched in years for GM. Skeptics question whether the demand is there to warrant a new generation of the pickups, which were phased out in 2012.
GM is counting on the smaller trucks to give Chevy and GMC truck lineups that no rival can match: Offerings in the heavy-duty and light-duty segments with the Silverado and Sierra, and the midsize Colorado and Canyon. Ford dropped its Ranger small pickup in the U.S. in 2011, while Ram discontinued the Dakota that same year.
The surge in early orders is "a sign that the dealers really believe in this product," said Sweeney, who oversees sales and marketing for Chevy in the U.S.
Forecasts for combined sales of the Colorado and Canyon next year, by IHS Automotive, AutoPacific and LMC Automotive, range from 73,000 to 91,400 trucks. In comparison, GM sold 664,803 Silverados and GMC Sierras last year.
Sweeney said Chevy is coming off a "very strong" August for sales of the redesigned Silverado, which was launched about a year ago. Sales of high-end trucks, such as the High Country model, as well as mid-priced double cab models have been strong, he said, declining to elaborate ahead of GM's monthly sales release on Wednesday.
Through July, Silverado's share of the U.S. fullsize pickup segment slipped to 24.9 percent, from 26.1 percent a year earlier, although it has gained ground in recent months after a slow start to the year.
Sweeney said Ram "continues to be extremely aggressive" with truck incentives. Ram's share of the U.S. large pickup market has jumped to 21 percent through July, from 18.5 percent through July 2013.
GM hopes to gain market share in full-size trucks over the last four months of the year, with Ford pickup production idled for eight weeks as it changes over equipment for a redesigned aluminum-bodied F-150, which is expected in showrooms by the end of the year.
"We and our dealers have a lot of confidence that the next four months can play out pretty strongly for us," he said.