GM To Offer Not One, But Two, Smaller Pickups: El Camino Too?

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2011 Holden Commodore Ute

2011 Holden Commodore Ute

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Usually Ford and GM follow the same playbook for their pickup trucks.

But in pursuit of higher fuel economy goals, the two may diverge in years to come.

While Ford is fitting more fuel-efficient EcoBoost turbocharged V-6 engines to its pickup trucks, it has no plans to offer any pickup smaller than the full-sized F-150 line.

Chevrolet, on the other hand, has already said it will offer a new version of the mid-size Colorado pickup along with its full-size Silverado line.

(Its counterpart GMC will do the same as well, with a Canyon to complement its Sierra.)

Now, it appears there may even be a third Chevy pickup joining the lineup in future years.

Are you ready for a return of the car-based El Camino?

A report on GM Authority (via Motor Authority) notes that GM renewed its registration for the El Camino model name with the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office on August 9.

That squares with earlier reports that GM will import and sell the Australian-built Holden Commodore "ute" (or car-based pickup) here in the States.

GM also filed to renew the Nomad name earlier in the year, perhaps indicating that it will sell the rear-wheel drive Commodore wagon.

That would make three Holden models, with the supposed El Camino and Nomad joining the Chevrolet SS sedan that it will unveil next year.

Whether U.S. pickup buyers would willingly downsize from today's full-size pickups to the mid-size models whose sales have declined greatly remains an open question.

And it's even less clear that buyers would downsize even further, to a car-based pickup with perhaps half the bed volume or less.

2010 Pontiac G8 sport truck

2010 Pontiac G8 sport truck

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GM had planned several years ago to bring the Holden ute into the U.S. as a Pontiac, with rapper 50 Cent unveiling it at the 2008 New York Auto Show as the Pontiac G8 Sport Truck.

Those plans died with GM's bankruptcy and restructuring that year, which killed off Pontiac altogether.

The Holden ute can be ordered in its home market with a range of engines, from a 3.0-liter V-6 up through a 6.0-liter V-8.

So it may be best to view any upcoming Chevy El Camino as more of a niche vehicle--or fashion statement--than a serious effort to downsize U.S. pickup truck offerings.

That role will like fall to the Chevy Colorado, which is almost sure to be offered at some point with a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine.

As for Ford? Down the road, look for a greater array of EcoBoost offerings in the next generation of its F-150 pickups.

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