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GM pumps $1.5 billion into US pick-up plant

Going big: GM will inject $US1.5 billion into its American truck plant in Missouri, backing the future of the Colorado.

Next-generation Holden Colorado could come directly from GM’s American truck plant

16 Dec 2019

GENERAL Motors has announced a massive $US1.5 billion ($A2.18b) investment into the future of its next-generation mid-sized pick-ups, including the Chevrolet/Holden Colorado which is due to reach the market early next decade. 


Just days after its Australian outpost revealed it was axing its Opel-based Commodore and Astra to concentrate solely on light-commercials and SUVs, GM said it would spend $US1 billion ($A1.45b) upgrading its Wentzville truck plant in Missouri in preparation for the new-generation Colorado and the related GMC Canyon.


Product details remain under wraps, with GM focusing the investment announcement on the plant, where the paint and body shops and general assembly areas are all set to receive updated machines, conveyors, controls and tooling.


GM president – and former Holden chairman and managing director – Mark Reuss said the US auto giant has “aggressive plans” for the future of its mid-sized pick-ups given it sells more of them than any other manufacturer.


“This is part of our comprehensive strategy to invest in growth areas and strengthen our US manufacturing base,” he said.


The current second-generation Colorado has been on sale in Australia since 2012, sharing a platform with the Isuzu Ute D-Max and owing the majority of its design and engineering to GM Brazil – although a good chunk of development work, including with the major revamp launched in 2016, was done in Australia by Holden.


GM Holden has this week declined to comment on the future of its all-important Colorado – the company’s highest-selling model by a country mile and a lynchpin to its recovery in the years ahead after the lion brand’s overall sales have plummeted since pulling out of Australian manufacturing in 2017. 


With this new investment at the Wentzville plant, it is not yet clear whether production of the Australian-spec ute will continue in Thailand or if the next Colorado will be exclusively built in the US, especially after the partnership between GM and Isuzu came to an end in 2016.


GM is also still to reveal whether the next-generation Colorado will be co-developed or produced with another manufacturer. 


Isuzu has joined with Mazda for the fully redesigned D-Max and BT-50 respectively, both of which are due for release in Australia inside the next 12 months, while Ford, which was previously sharing its Australian-developed Ranger with Mazda, has now made its pick-up bed with Volkswagen (Amarok) for the next-generation models.


Mitsubishi’s joining of the Renault-Nissan alliance has also created a three-way mid-size pick-up partnership between these brands, starting with the next Triton due in 2021 and leaving a question mark over the future of the Mercedes X-Class, which shares its platform with the current Nissan Navara.


In Missouri, the upgraded plant will retain more than 4000 jobs and be responsible for production of Colorado/Canyon and the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans. 


To the end of November, Holden had sold 16,106 examples of the Colorado – 40 per cent of the brand’s entire sales –and the 4x4 version was fourth in class (with a 9.3 per cent share) behind segment-leading Ranger, Toyota’s HiLux and the Triton in third.

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