Has General Motors abandoned plans to build an SUV that would compete with the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and Ford Bronco? The rumor mills are churning.
With more Americans embracing light trucks, forecasters LMC Automotive and AutoPacific say GM was developing a body-on-frame SUV for the North American market. But late last year, GM canceled the plans, according to Muscle Cars and Trucks.
GM won't comment or speculate on future products. But the vehicle was still in LMC Automotive's forecast — as the GMC Envoy — as recently as May. LMC had expected the SUV to be assembled at GM's Wentzville, Mo., plant, where the midsize Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are built. Output would have started in 2022 and ended in 2028, with about 80,000 vehicles per year, LMC estimated. In May, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's bid to send GM a $50 million incentive package passed in the state's Senate, according to local media. GM reportedly wants to invest $1 billion to upgrade the Wentzville plant.
"We have also heard rumblings that the vehicle may have been canceled but so far have not been able to confirm that," said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC. "If it was canceled, it may speak to the cost pressure automakers are under and the proliferation of the SUV/CUV body style."
While the market could absorb another bona fide SUV, Schuster said, the program could also be delayed or reworked. AutoPacific says the vehicle could also land on one of GM's new global architectures.
The plans were reportedly canceled in November when GM hatched a restructuring that included slashing 15 percent of 54,000 North American jobs and ending output at five North American plants.
Muscle Cars and Trucks reported that the restructuring also led to the cancellation, restart or delay of several vehicle programs, such as the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 and GM's 32XX midsize pickups.