With the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon now officially in production, we’re starting to get an idea of what kind of reception the trucks will get once they begin hitting dealers — which they are, as GM has started shipping out the units this week. Reportedly, according to GM’s internal numbers, dealers have ordered about 30,000 Colorado units alone, which the company says is “very high for early orders.”
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to many. Since Ford’s exit of the midsize truck segment around 2012, as well as the Ram Dakota, and GM’s subsequent shutdown of the previous Colorado and Canyon models, the sector has been made up of just two contenders — the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. While both decent trucks in their own rights, they are old — neither have seen a meaningful redesign in a long, long time.
This means that the new trucks from GM will be the first really new trucks in the segment for several years, and as such, demand for them is likely to be high. In the last decade or so, larger flagship pickups like the Silverado have grown in size, while options to undercut the segment dwindled. For many, there isn’t a need for a huge truck; just something small, capable, and sensible for around-town driving that can accommodate a small family and a load of mulch.
The demand for these kinds of trucks seems to have fallen on largely deaf ears, as automakers have been preoccupied with the margin-friendly larger pickups that are commanding higher prices than ever before. Though Toyota and Nissan have remained committed to the smaller truck segment (Honda, too, with its Ridgeline), it’s apparent that keeping their products on the cutting edge hasn’t been a key priority.
Demand for GM’s trucks has been great enough that the company added a third shift to its Wentzville Assembly plant, which brought on 750 new workers to help maintain the supply to meet dealers’ appetites. While the Chevy Colorado has lived on abroad in other iterations, it hasn’t been present in the U.S. since 2012, and not as the latest generation.
The success of GM’s new smaller trucks will likely be closely watched by others, including Ford (which still sells the Ranger in other countries), and Toyota (which will likely see its Tacoma sales falter now that there are two more competing options). Though it’s been rumored that Toyota is toying with the idea of putting a diesel powertrain into a future form of the Tacoma, GM will be bringing a 2.8 liter diesel to the Colorado and Canyon next year as a 2016 model year.
“The Colorado was designed to meet the demands of the modern midsized truck buyer, and now we’re fulfilling the demand they’ve placed on us,” said Brian Sweeney, who is the U.S. vice president of Chevrolet, in a press blast announcing that the trucks were being delivered to dealers. “Chevrolet and everyone at the Wentzville plant has worked hard to get the truck out on time to fulfill as soon as possible the orders our dealers have placed.”
The next few months will probably be a crucial period where other automakers decide if the midsize truck segment is one they should re-evaluate moving ahead, as a way to undercut potential sales lost as full-size pickups become increasingly expensive. The Colorado starts at $20,120, and the Canyon at $26,725. Each has the capacity to tow up to 7,000 pounds, and offer a slew of amenities inside, like the larger Silverados and Sierras.