Chevrolet Adds Captiva CUV to Short List of Thai Offerings

While the Captiva undercuts the Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail and the new MG HS on price, it’s being offered only with a 143-hp 1.5L gasoline turbo. A Chevrolet Thailand executive says the engine’s performance leaves nothing to be desired.

Edd Ellison, Correspondent

September 24, 2019

3 Min Read
Chevrolet Captiva Thailand launch
Captiva will appeal to Thai families, Chevrolet predicts.

Chevrolet Thailand launches the new Captiva, this time sourcing a CUV from its Chinese joint venture SAIC. The new model comes completely built up from Indonesia and is being pitched on the Thai market at a competitive price.

The outgoing Captiva has been assembled for the past 12 years at General Motors’ Bangkok plant and has been a steady seller.

For the new-generation Captiva model, GM has rebadged a product from SGMW, its JV with China’s SAIC and Wuling. The Baojun 530, which launched in China early last year, is a 5- and 7- seat C-segment SUV.

It will come from Indonesia, where it’s sold as the Wuling Almaz, production having started earlier this year. Sourcing the Captiva from Indonesia, the first market outside China to receive the model, makes it competitive in Thailand thanks to favorable pan-ASEAN import duties.

Chevrolet has robust hopes for the new Captiva here, particularly as CUVs are attracting more and more consumers. “(It) isn’t the largest SUV segment in Thailand, but it’s a very solid growth opportunity for us,” said Sean Poppitt, director-Marketing and Communications, GM South East Asia.

“We think it’s going to be a significant volume boost for us, and we’ll certainly be looking to do well into the triple figures just until the end of the year at least,” he says. “Over a full year, particularly being an all-new vehicle, we will be looking for significantly uplifted sales next year.”

Key rivals will be the Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail and the new MG HS launching this month. While the Captiva undercuts them on price, there being three trim levels ranging from 999,000-1.2 million baht ($32,800-$39,400), it’s being offered with only one engine, a 1.5L gasoline turbo with 143 hp (below, left) along with a CVT transmission.

That configuration leaves the Captiva as the least powerful contender in the compact SUV class, as well as a lack of a diesel, both of which could prove a hurdle in Thailand, where buyers tend to prefer bigger-capacity engines. The last-generation Captiva, by example, came with 2.4L gasoline 2.0L diesel powerplants.

Chevrolet Captiva engine (Thailand).jpg

Chevrolet Captiva engine (Thailand)

Poppitt doubts that will pose a problem. “When we were working with our partners SGMW about the right configuration and the right product for the Thai market we did a lot of really deep research into what SUV customers really value, and the top three things by a huge margin were, it had to look great on the outside, it had to look good on the inside and be spacious and practical and have good technology,” he says.

“Outright performance was way down the list, so for most of the people who buy this it’s either about a permanent or part-time family car, couples with or without kids,” Poppitt says. “And obviously because we’re in Thailand even if you don’t have kids, families are very important so you have aunts, uncles, cousins, fathers-in-law, so that’s far more important for those buyers than outright performance.”

For its application the Captiva’s performance will meet expectations, Poppitt predicts. “We do recognize that Chevrolet has been a bit of a performance-oriented brand and the 1.5L turbo with the CVT – and I’ve driven it extensively – leaves nothing to be desired about performance.”

There are no plans to start completely knocked-down assembly in Thailand, Poppitt says, but adds, “Never say never.

“At the moment, particularly with these volumes, we’re a global company in GM so we want to leverage that scale and scope, and for now this is a really strong imported vehicle for us that complements the vehicles we build here locally in the Colorado (pickup) and Trailblazer  (CUV), and we will be looking to continue expanding our portfolio in the not too distant future.”

About the Author(s)

Edd Ellison

Correspondent, WardsAuto

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