DETROIT — General Motors is bringing back the Chevrolet Blazer, which last sold in the United States 14 years ago, but the automaker's decision to build the SUV in Mexico is not sitting well with the United Auto Workers Union.
Minutes after GM announced that the Blazer would be making a comeback in the 2019 model year, the labor union issued a statement blasting the plan to build the new Blazer at the Ramos Arizpe factory in Mexico.
"This news that the iconic Blazer nameplate will be built in Mexico is disappointing to UAW families and communities across this country," stated Terry Dittes, vice president at the UAW. "GM employs over 15,000 production workers in Mexico, pays the workers less than $3 per hour and exports over 80 percent of the vehicles to the U.S. to sell here. This is all happening while UAW-GM workers here in the U.S are laid off and unemployed."
GM said the decision to build in Mexico was made years ago and that the Blazer's engines are made in the U.S.
The Blazer also could get caught up in a potential trade war, with President Donald Trump
The new Blazer, due in showrooms early next year, comes as American buyers continue their shift from cars to trucks and SUVs. This year trucks and SUVs accounted for about two-thirds U.S. new-vehicle sales, with cars making up the rest.
SUVs based on car underpinnings, sometimes called crossover vehicles, are what buyers want these days, and the Chevy brand didn't have a midsize one with two rows of seats to compete with the popular Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano.
The original Blazer sold during the 1982 through 2005 model years. At its peak in 1996, Chevrolet sold just over 246,000 Blazers.
GM on Thursday unveiled the sculpted Blazer in Atlanta, trying to capitalize on a well-known name that has a lot of equity, said Steve Majoros, Chevy's director of car and crossover marketing. "There's still a number of people that either have good positive feelings about that product or still have them in their driveways," he said.
Chevy says it will come standard with a 193-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, with an optional 305 horsepower 3.6-liter V6. All models will have stop-start technology that shuts off the engine at red traffic lights, plus nine-speed automatic transmissions that will help gas mileage.
Gas mileage and price weren't released by GM. Chevy hopes to take a chunk out of Grand Cherokee sales, one of the more popular and profitable vehicles in the Jeep lineup, in the growing midsize SUV segment. Last year Fiat Chrysler sold nearly 159,000 Grand Cherokees.