Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Next Generation Chevy Colorado Revealed: Wow

Chevy Colorado via PickupTrucks.com
I generally have a preference for GM’s current styling direction, but the photos released yesterday of the next generation Chevy Colorado are particularly stellar, IMHO.  The truck looks like it was designed and equipped with the North American market in mind.  GM still won’t confirm whether or not the new Colorado will make it to the US, but judging by its appearance and interior features, it has to be very likely that we will be seeing it sometime soon

Note that you don’t hear GM making any excuses about the Colorado being nearly the same size as the Silverado, or that people want a Cruze instead of a small pickup (insert Ford marketing nonsense here).
 For all the details and more photos of the new Chevy Colorado, go to PickupTrucks.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring 2011 Launch for Mahindra W201 on Track

Mahindra W210 Artist's Rendering
IndianCarsBikes is reporting that Mahindra dealers in India are preparing for an April or May release of Mahindra’s all-new flagship SUV, W201.

Known only by the codename W201, it will be Mahindra’s premier SUV featuring an all-new unitized body design and transverse engine layout as MP detailed back in November.

Mahindra has recently finalized acquisition of Ssangyong Motor, and arbitration over US distribution of Mahindra vehicles is now set to conclude in August of this year. The combination of these two events doesn’t appear to point to the W201 making an appearance in North America any time soon. The launch of Ssangyong SUV’s in the US may (or may not) become a more likely scenario.

Nevertheless, the story of the W201 is worth revisiting: W201: The Card Hidden Up Mahindra’s Sleeve

Source: IndianCarsBikes.com, as hyperlinked

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

U.S. to see Ssangyong SUV’s in 2-5 Years

Ssangyong SUT 1 Concept via PickupTrucks.com/Jalopnik.com
 Ssangyong Motor Co. Chairman, Yoo Lee, has told Automotive News (via AutoWeek) that his company ultimately intends to sell its Korean-made SUV line in the United States “two to three years from now, but within five years at the latest.”
Lee foresees some struggles in complying with complex US homologation requirements stating “We will need time to fulfill all strict emission and safety regulations.” Clearly, Ssangyong understands the challenges (lessons learned from Mahindra) but intends to pursue the strategic US market.

Battle of the Brands
News of Ssangyong’s US ambitions still leaves Mahindra dealers and current/former Mahindra distributor, Global Vehicles USA (GV) in a vacuum.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, wholly owns Ssangyong Motor. Ssangyong’s line of small SUV’s are primarily powered by 4-cylinder turbodiesel engines with a few gasoline-fueled options. It is likely that Ssangyong will want to focus on diesel engines for the United States.

Mahindra Dealers and Global Vehicles may be legitimately concerned that Mahindra’s Ssangyong takeover has created a loophole which would allow M&M to bypass GV and some 350 dealers who have committed to selling Mahindra-branded pickups and SUV’s powered by 4-cylinder turbodiesel engines.

Rendering of a Mahindra branded, Ssangyong Korando C via IAB
The Ssangyong brand name (or as PickupTrucks.com’s Mike Levine surmises, a newly created brand name) could be used on any Mahindra or Ssangyong built vehicles imported to the United States. Creating a new brand dedicated to the US market could potentially circumnavigate the ongoing legal battle between GV and M&M. This could allow Mahindra to establish its own import and distribution enterprise, and bypass the current Mahindra dealer network set up by GV. The dealers and GV are legitimately concerned that they could be left in the dust.

Conflict of Interest
There is little sense in Mahindra bringing competing diesel-powered brands and products to an already challenging and competitive market. Cherry-picking the best products from Mahindra and Ssangyong and rolling them into a unified brand may be more strategically sound.

Mahindra is extremely dedicated to the globalization of the Mahindra brand name and has established decent brand recognition in the US with their tractor and information technology divisions. On the flip side, the Mahindra small truck brand in the US has become a symbol of Mahindra’s inability to create a truly global automotive product and execute an enchanting business and marketing strategy in the United States. A new brand name may help bury these negative impressions.

Source: AutoWeek

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jewels of Geneva: Ssangyong SUT 1 and Ford Ranger Wildtrak

The 2011 Geneva Motor Show is underway and it sure seems like the Europeans are getting a glimpse of far cooler machinery (both in concept and production form) than Americans have seen at US shows in several years. Okay, the Ford Raptor, GMC Granite, and Sierra All Terrain HD concepts are a few recent truck market exceptions.
Two vehicles that will stand out to Americans hoping for a legitimate US small pickup offering with diesel power are the Ssangyong SUT 1 and Ford Ranger Wildtrak.

2011 Ssangyong SUT 1 Concept

Ssangyong SUT 1
Korean automaker Ssangyong Motor (recently acquired by Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd) has unveiled their SUT 1 concept pickup truck at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The concept pickup is likely to be based on a unitized platform shared with the Ssangyong Korando C SUV (Editor 11-Mar-2011: The SUT 1 is not based on the Korando C unibody platform.  It is actually an updated version of the body-on-frame Actyon Sports pickup.) The engine is a 2.0L 4-cylinder diesel (likely a design licensed from Mercedes-Benz) putting out 153 hp and 265 lb-ft torque, and backed up with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Despite its unfortunate name (sounds like ‘suck one’ to us, S-U-T doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue), the pickup is styled quite well. We suspect that the body concept was outsourced to an Italian design house as Ssangyong has done with the Korando C. Nothing against Mahindra’s styling department, but they should seriously consider using some Western consultation on their body design (although the W201 seems promising).

2011 Ssangyong SUT 1 Concept

The SUT 1’s wheelbase is about 2 inches shorter than a Honda Ridgeline’s and looks to have about the same amount of cargo space. It’s likely that a production version would get the same rear wheel drive or full time all wheel drive configuration options already available on the Korando C. Will we ever see it in the US? PickupTrucks.com thinks we will. Based on the minimal success of recent trucks like the Honda Ridgeline and Subaru Baja, it’s questionable. Factor in the completely unknown Ssangyong name, and it’s probably a hard sell unless it has a really ridiculous base price. MP has been wrong before.
2011 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Ford Ranger Wildtrak
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak is highest trim level of the new Ranger mid-size pickup that has been known for some time as ‘T6’ or the ‘Global Ranger’. This is the truck that many people wish Ford would bring to the US. The photos pretty much speak for themselves: it’s a killer truck and there are undoubtedly thousands of Americans who would love to own it, if they actually brought it here. How Ford can justify a prohibitively expensive halo truck like the Raptor but refuse to replace the outgoing Ranger with the new global Ranger is completely baffling. Seriously Ford, WTF?
2011 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

With a 7,385 pound towing capacity and a 197 hp/346 lb-ft torque, 3.2L 5-cylinder diesel engine, with manual or automatic transmission options… I’m sure that no one in America would ever want such an anemic and weak little truck. Obviously it’s terrible, so that is why 188 countries will get it, but the US and Canada will not. We can dream anyway.

Source: PickupTrucks.com, Jalopnik.com