GM Truck Offensive Picks Up Momentum

Chevrolet, GMC, add more models, target up-market buyers.

by on Sep.26, 2013

The upcoming launch of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon will highlight GM's new truck offensive.

General Motors plans to unveil  its new mid-sized pickup trucks during the press previews at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November – the new Chevy and GMC models part of a broad offensive the Detroit maker hopes will take advantage of the sudden surge in truck sales.

The introduction of the two midsize pickups will follow the launch of GM’s new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size models, and target a segment of the market now dominated by the Japanese.

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“We think we have a real opportunity with that truck,” said Chris Perry, marketing chief for the Chevrolet division, referring to the new Chevy Colorado pickup. The GMC model will be dubbed the Canyon.

Since GM killed off the old Colorado and Canyon models, Detroit makers have left the segment to the Japanese, with models like the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and the Honda Ridgeline. And with sales on the decline, it has been anything but certain whether the domestics would try a comeback.

GM’s rivals at Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group also have looked at the midsize truck segment but declined to offer their own entries. “We think there is too much overlap with full-sized pickups,” said Doug Scott, Ford’s director of truck marketing.

(Click Herefor a closer look at GM’s new midsize pickups.)

While the future of the midsize truck market is far from certain, there’s no debate that the full-size segment is on a roll, sales likely to top 2 million again for all of 2013, analysts say, for the first time since the U.S. economy collapsed.

GMC and Chevrolet hope to tap the growth with their new Sierra and Silverado models – which will include an expanded list of standard and heavy-duty variants.

(Ram launches market’s first standard-duty diesel pickup. Click Here for a review of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.)

Chevrolet and GMC are completing the rollout of the new GM Trucks full-sized pickup by showing off the upscale versions of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, the Chevrolet Silverado High Country and GMC Sierra Denali. The two models could come as a surprise to those who think pickups are supposed to be Spartan cargo haulers, and will offer far more features, her interiors and an optional 6.2-liter V-8 engine with cylinder deactivation that delivers better fuel economy both on the highway and around town.

Marie Rohrer, Chevrolet Truck marketing manager, said the High Country will put Chevrolet into the fastest growing part of the pickup truck market.  Roughly 30% of all pickup trucks sold in the U.S. have transaction prices of more than $40,000 and the new High Country is designed to attract buyers, who are expected to be younger, better educated and more affluent than the typical pickup truck buyer. The target customer is 58 years old and comes from a household with income of $88,000.

(Pickup sales surge driving the US auto market’s strong recovery. Click Here for that story.)

For GMC, the introduction of the new Sierra Denali will allow GMC to build on the Denali sub-brand, according to Roger McCormack , GMC marketing manager. Like the Chevrolet Silverado High Country, it will target more affluent buyers looking for a truck with luxury-level accoutrements.

The GM trucks won’t have the high-end pickup segment all to their own. Ford is already targeting high-end buyers with the F-Series King Ranch edition. And both Toyota and Chrysler’s Ram brand are moving into more upscale niches, as well.

The Denali name, which is used to denote the top-of-the-line of each GMC , now represents a substantial portion of GMC’s sales, noted McCormack. “When you do all the math we actually outsell Lincoln,” he said, referring to the struggling luxury brand that Ford Motor Co is trying to revive.

The Denali version represent approximately 60% of all sales of the full-size GMC Yukon and the  Denali Version als0 represents roughly one-third of all Acadia crossovers sold by GMC.  Seventeen percent of all Sierra pickup are sold as Denali and the figure is expected to increase with the launch of the new 2014 Sierra Denali. GMC also introduced a Denali version of the GMC Terrain at the start of the 2013 model year and it now accounts for roughly 15% of the Terrain’s total sales, McCormack said.

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