As CAMI Automotive Inc. gets set to launch production of the new Chevrolet Equinox cross/utility vehicle, officials may be eying other models to take advantage of the plant's 190,000-unit annual capacity.
Underutilized for years building the Chevrolet Tracker/Vitara, CAMI is expected to make at least 100,000 Equinoxes annually. Tracker and Vitara production will be phased out, but CAMI officials refuse to say specifically when that will happen.
However, one source tells Ward's CAMI officials recently visited Japan to negotiate withabout production of an extended version of the Equinox, featuring three rows of seats, for Suzuki.
When Suzuki outlined its strategy in August to hit 200,000 sales annually in the U.S. by 2007, the auto maker revealed plans to bring a new midsize utility vehicle to the market by the '06 model year and did not rule out getting a version of the Equinox.
GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner has hinted CAMI will be assigned production of additional vehicle programs. “We'll announce that later on,” Wagoner says during a press conference prior to the Tokyo Motor Show in October. “I do think that we're going to have better utilization of CAMI with the Equinox, but I wouldn't confine it to one product only.”