CNG, Chevrolet, and The Ghost of Auto Shows Past

Before we get on into what’s new at Chicago, let’s take a few minutes to talk about what’s not new. To do that, we’ll need to think back to February, 2011. “New” GM had been under the protectful umbrella of the Obama administration since the ’09 bankruptcy, spending all manner of taxpayer dollars in preparation of its November 2010 stock IPO. Part of GM’s marketing blitz back then (as now) is “green” technology, and if the Volt was Chevy’s Jesus car, its new-for 2011 CNG commercial van was Peter.

Peter, you’ll recall, promised commercial fleets hoping to reduce their carbon footprint that GM had dedicated itself to providing a cutting-edge, capable, AND cost-effective means of reducing harmful diesel emissions on the jobsite while reducing the fleet’s overall operating expenses (often by many thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the vehicle). Very good promises, in other words.

It’s worth noting, however, that GM was something of a political entity at the time … and you know how political entities are about promises.

Fast forward a year, and GM is back in Chicago, showing off its new GMC Acadia SUV (which, somehow, manages to be both boring and wasteful), new Buicks, new Chevrolets, new x, new y, new z. Past all that, tucked away at the back of GM’s display, GM’s 2012/13 commercial vehicle lineup. There was some good stuff here, like a new flex-fuel police Caprice, hybrid Silverado pickups, and this:

Not only did GM trot out a 2011 CNG commercial Express van, GM trotted out THE SAME 2011 CNG COMMERCIAL EXPRESS VAN.

I’m not usually very big on omens, but this didn’t seem like a good sign to me. I asked the nearest GM model about the van’s repeat status, and she said she didn’t know – but she did direct me to GM’s complimentary “Denali” coffee bar.

Not a good sign at all.

Sources: 2012 Chicago Auto Show, 2011 Chicago Auto Show.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.