California Autos Examiner

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chevrolet: WSJ "Jumped the Gun" on MPV-7 / Orlando U.S. Plans

Sitting here in Boston, enjoying some rainy weather, I received a call from my mother-in-law: Chevrolet had just left me a voicemail. Some back story here...Firstly, "mom" has my cell phone because she is only visiting the U.S. for a few weeks before returning to France. Secondly, I have been awaiting word from Chevrolet regarding an "incident" I had with a member of its PR group of few weeks ago.

Enough history, however, let's get down to the facts. Recently, the WSJ had published an article that stated that plans for the MPV-7 (Orlando) here in the U.S. have been suspended. I was rather shocked to read this because I had thought of the Orlando as pretty much a lock for the U.S. market. I had a number of conversations with Chevrolet Chief Ed Peper about the project over the past year and he had always been very enthusiastic about the vehicle.

My initial inquiries about the project were rebuffed, but I finally have been able to get through to Terry Rhadigan, Director, Chevrolet Communications and we had a brief conversation about the MPV-7/Orlando project.

A couple things to note. Firstly, nothing has been officially confirmed or denied. As it stands, the Orlando is officially a concept and its production plans have yet to be confirmed. Unofficially, we know that the vehicle will be built, in fact we've seen it driving around. Secondly, since the vehicle's production status has not been confirmed, there have been no official announcements about where it would be produced. Unofficially, the MPV-7 was shown in a leaked UAW document last year and it was scheduled to be produced at GM's Hamtramck, Michigan facility.

The important thing for you to take away from this post is that according to Rhadigan, Peper is still as excited about the product as he has been all along. Plans for future vehicles are being checked and double checked like never before. Just because the MPV-7 project has been pulled from one plant in the U.S. (again, never officially confirmed in the first place) it doesn't mean that it couldn't be produced in another U.S. facility. The MPV-7 could also be imported for U.S. sale from other facilities around the world that will manufacture the vehicle whether or not it is sold here.

As Mark Twain might have said, "The News of the MPV-7's Non U.S. Market Viability Has Been Greatly Exaggerated" Says Rhadigan of the Orlando's chances in the United States: "Stay tuned." As for me? I'm going back out into the rain to enjoy my vacation, but as for the Orlando in the U.S.? I believe that Chevrolet needs a smaller seven seater than the Traverse and the Orlando will fill the bill nicely. In other words, I'm still going with "lock."

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