Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chevy may junk TrailBlazer, build smaller Hummer

Friday, June 23, 2006
Chevy may junk TrailBlazer, build smaller Hummer
GM will shelve 'Blazer by 2010 and offer an H4 in vehicle fuel efficiency push, analyst says.
Jeff Green / Bloomberg News

DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. may dump the Chevrolet TrailBlazer SUV and build a smaller Hummer as rising fuel prices push buyers to more fuel-efficient models.

The TrailBlazer will cease production in about 2010 when Chevy gets a more car-like SUV as a replacement, said Global Insight Inc. analyst Rebecca Lindland, citing discussions with parts suppliers. The new Hummer will arrive in 2009, she said. GM wouldn't confirm either move.

"GM is appeasing customers' desire for a higher-stature vehicle and mating that with models that get decent gas mileage," Lindland said Wednesday.

GM will offer 14 so-called crossovers by 2009, compared with seven now, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said in October.

U.S. market share for GM fell to an 80-year low last year as Toyota Motor Corp. and other Asian automakers, which get a higher percentage of sales from car-based SUVs, captured a record portion of sales.

GM spokeswoman, Sherrie Childers Arb, said the automaker is "realigning the TrailBlazer program to adapt to the market." She wouldn't give specifics on what those changes might be or comment on plans for a smaller Hummer. GM said in May it's halting production of the H1, the five-ton model that travels fewer than 10 miles on a gallon of gasoline.

GM shares rose $1.07 to $27.27 at Wednesday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

The new Hummer H4, would join the H3 and H2 models and probably be built from a smaller version of the H3 chassis, said Lindland, who's based in Lexington, Mass. It would compete with DaimlerChrysler AG's Jeep Wrangler, she said.

"Consumers are finding strong substitutes with the car-like utilities and are choosing them" over the TrailBlazer and Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer, said Michael Robinet, an analyst for CSM Worldwide in Farmington Hills. He wouldn't predict the timing of an end to TrailBlazer production.

This year, GM will build about 256,000 Trailblazers and other SUVs with which it shares a chassis, Lindland said. That's down from peak production of about 460,000 in 2004.


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