In the auto industry, it's the best problem to have. Your production line capacity can't keep up with demand. The Chevrolet Equinox's wild success is apparently the reason General Motors will begin selling a 2012 Chevy Captiva Sport in the U.S. beginning this autumn, to fleets only. Alert the airport rental lots.
"Chevrolet will introduce the Captiva Sport, a new entry to the U.S. market, later this year to help satisfy growing demand for compact crossovers by fleet customers," the company said in a press release. "The Captiva Sport is a variant of the globally successful Chevrolet Captiva compact crossover."
Because the Captiva Sport was sold here through 2009 as the Saturn Vue, certification for U.S. sales will carry minimal cost for GM. The Vue was going to become a post-bankruptcy two-mode plug-in hybrid Buick crossover. The other piece of the Captiva Sport's production puzzle is that GM had some unused production capacity from canceling the "Vuick." The Equinox and its GMC twin, the Terrain are built in Canada, while the Captiva Sport will come from a Mexican assembly plant.
As for "growing demand for compact crossovers," the Captiva Sport will be available with either the 2.4-liter four or 3.0-liter gas direct-injection V-6, either engine coupled to a six-speed automatic, same as the Equinox. While EPA numbers aren't available yet, it will do no better than match Equinox fuel mileage figures, which top out at 32-mpg highway for front-drive, four-cylinder models.
Trim levels for the Captiva Sport are LS, LT and LTZ, the latter two with the V-6 standard.
Last year, Chevy sold 149,979 Equinoxes, some 41,000 short of Ford with its aged Escape. GMC sold another 60,519 Terrains, built on the same platform as the Equinox, and at the same plant. Chevy says February '11 retail sales of the Equinox was up 98 percent over February '10.
The Captiva Sport will be one of two special Chevy models sold exclusively to fleet, beginning in '11. The other is the Caprice police car. Unlike the RWD Caprice though, we don't expect high demand for the Captiva Sport in the used car market.