DETROIT (AP) — General Motors says don't blame consumers for the shrinking market for small pickups. The trucks haven't been very good.
So, in hopes that better quality will win back buyers, GM is rolling out two new small trucks in a segment that Ford and Chrysler have abandoned and Honda and Nissan are struggling with.
GM Sunday showed off a more upscale GMC Canyon ahead of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It already unveiled the Chevrolet Colorado in Los Angeles last year. Both are due in showrooms in the fall.
In the 1990s, Americans bought more than 1 million small pickups every year, attracted by their reasonable gas mileage and ability to haul light loads. But big trucks hauled more, and eventually caught up to the smaller ones in gas mileage. Sales plummeted. Last year, Americans bought only 227,000 small trucks, 14 percent fewer than in 2012.
Tony DiSalle, vice president of GMC marketing, said research shows consumers quit buying small pickups in favor of big , crossover SUVs and midsize sedans because the trucks didn't offer comfortable and quiet interiors, advanced features and good fuel economy.
The Canyon, he said, has those features, yet is still a real pickup truck.
Mark Reuss, GM's incoming head of product development, said the Canyon gives the company "an alternative to a big pickup truck." Reuss helped unveil the vehicle at an event Sunday.