GM’s internal debate: Does Chevy need another crossover?

GM’s internal debate: Does Chevy need another crossover?
Automotive News | October 19, 2011 – 3:09 pm EST

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

DETROIT — The question General Motors executives are debating: Does Chevrolet need another model?

Today, Chevrolet markets the Equinox and the Traverse, both successful crossovers for the bow-tie brand.

Chevrolet also offers the Captiva crossover, which is imported from Mexico. But that compact is sold only to fleets. The first deliveries began late last week. You won’t find a Captiva sitting in a U.S. showroom.

So now the thumbs-up-or-down question is whether Chevrolet needs another crossover in its lineup, specifically a model based on GM’s new subcompact platform. That entry-level crossover is currently under debate. If approved by GM management, the crossover would be positioned below the Equinox. The time frame is unclear.

The first U.S. vehicle on that platform is the Chevrolet Sonic, which went on sale a few weeks ago. Two Sonic models are offered, a sedan and a five-door hatchback. The hatchback has a separate greenhouse and is about 12 inches shorter than the Sonic sedan, creating a vehicle that is distinct from the sedan.

Buick also will share the platform, but Buick’s model will be a small crossover, sharing underpinnings with the potential Chevrolet crossover. The Buick crossover is slated for sale sometime next year. Buick needs a model portfolio that appeals to a wider range of buyers, and the crossover fits in perfectly.

But does Chevrolet need one, too?

There’s another issue lurking in the wings: Would a subcompact crossover add sales to the Chevrolet brand or cannibalize Sonic sales, resulting in a net gain of zero?

An entry-level SUV for Chevy could be based on the Sonic platform.

Photo credit: GM

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