By on June 25, 2012

The Arlington, Texas plant that builds full size SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade will get a third shift, adding 800 jobs.

The shift is expected to start in Q1 2013. Sales of the full-size SUVs have been steadily climbing in the post-Recession years, though volatile gas prices and the consumer shift towards more fuel efficient vehicles makes this move slightly puzzling – or not, in light of Bertel’s article on just how important full-size trucks and SUVs are to the general. The Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon and Yukon XL command a significant share of the large SUV market, with both the Tahoe and Suburban handily beating the third place Ford Expedition in the sales race.

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41 Comments on “GM Adding Third Shift At Arlington Plant...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    Maybe GM’s crystal ball says oil prices will decline. That would spur sales of these.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I just heard serious analysis today that oil prices are expected to continue downward for some time. The Saudis have been pumping overtime (partly to hurt Iran and Russia, partly to suppress alternative fuel development) and worldwide demand remains soft. Some analysts are actually predicting $40/bbl for Brent crude later this year. Even if oil only makes it partway to that level it will have a big effect on gasoline prioes. Pump prices in Chicagoland have dropped from around $4.20/gal to $3.60/gal in the last month. GM should make hay while the sun shines.

  • avatar
    nikita

    Sounds like the sales are already there. The incremental cost to develop and tool these on the existing pickup truck platform is minimal and the unit profit is huge. Why not? GM has a near-monopoly for these. Dodge hasnt sold one in the US in decades, Ford a distant third, Toyota and Nissan sell hardly any.

    Yes, sales tumble after a sharp oil price increase, then recover as the public gets used to it.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    It’s nice to be creeping along in rush hour traffic and turn the AC to max in your V8 equipped GM product. 96 degrees fahrenheit and 90 percent humidity? No worries.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      My 4-cylinder equipped import product also handles high temp high humidity conditions no problem, as do virtually all other modern cars.

      This is especially the case when “creeping along” because then the power lost to the AC is a non-issue, even on relatively underpowered vehicles.

      I’m glad their sales are high enough to justify another shift, but I hope they don’t over-commit as a result of a temporary dip in fuel prices.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Anyone willing to suffer the excruciating vibrations a used import 4-cylinder transmits to it’s chassis while idling in gear is simply deluding themselves that this is how it’s supposed to be.

        Cars aren’t supposed to idle like that, dude.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        wut?

        That might have been true in 1979. This is 2012. You won’t feel any vibration at idle in any car built in the last five years that is running properly.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        FWIW my Saturn absolutely did not like stop and go traffic. Specifically 90 minutes to go 9 miles traffic, more stop and go really. Or “gas-brake-honk” to quote Homer.

      • 0 avatar
        monomille

        Try a Prius – AC is electric powered and is never noticeable except for the nice flow of cool air.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @iNeon

        What?

        The 2.0 in my 2012 Focus idles lower, AC maxed, than the 3.0 6 in my girlfriend’s Sable. Both idle at acceptable levels (read: below 1,000 RPM).

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        This happened last time idle quality and manufacturer were compared/contrasted.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Just don’t understand why these are so popular. About the only thing they do well is tow, but most of them are never used for towing. They are huge on the outside and yet have surprisingly little interior volume. They look dated inside and out. They bobble and wallow over bumps. They can’t stop worth a damn. They get terrible fuel mileage, especially in the city, but aren’t that quick.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Dal two reasons for their popularity: 1 the law of gross tonnage, i.e. people think big equals safe, 2 they’re more macho than a minivan, never mind 99 percent of the time they’re used to explore the wilds of the parking lot.
      I know two people who own Ford Excursions and use them as intended. One is a truck driver who uses his to tow his cabin cruiser. The other uses his to go bird hunting in the plains states. It gets loaded with four full sized men, their guns, ammo, luggage, and two hunting dogs

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      Owners know that your assertions are mostly false. Poor gas mileage ? Maybe, but they do so many other things well that it can be excused. You will never convince a Suburban owner that they are not a superb vehicle. I drove one for 10 years, and would buy another in a heartbeat.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        If owners can’t see the truth of what I’m saying, then they are putting their heads in the sand.

        Any full-size minivan is at least two feet shorter than a Suburban and a few inches narrower, and yet has more interior volume.

        The Burban gets just 15/21 with the 5.3 engine or, atrociously, 10/15 with the 6.0 engine. This despite unloaded 0-60 times around 8 seconds, a bit more with the 5.3, a bit less with the 6.0. The Toyota Sienna, for just one example, gets 18/25, yet accelerates faster than the 6.0 Burban. And the only things the Burban can do that the Sienna can’t are towing and limited off-road use.

        Braking is even worse. 60-0 in the Burban is typically in the 150s-160s. Any modern car-based crossover or minivan should be around 130 — a full Burban length shorter.

        And none of this is considering the feel, which is admittedly subjective, but I don’t think it’s a reasonable tradeoff to put up with wallowing just to have a macho image, unless you are actually towing or going off-road.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Owners know they get poor gas mileage. I’ve seen them cursing at the pumps.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @dal20402

        You hit the nail on the head. Considering the usual suspect I see in one of these (especially the Escalade) is a blonde in her late 30’s early 40’s driving either by herself or one other passenger, and pretty much NEVER towing (the people around here have pick-up trucks for that) I never unstood why you’d get one of these, when a Traverse/Acadia/Enclave or similar sized full sized crossover gets better gas mileage, has better road manners, is faster and has a nicer interior, not to mention is cheaper, and all they’re giving up is the two things they basically never do: towing and off-roading.

        Not that you can’t tow up to 5,000 pounds with an Enclave et al, anyway, and that would be what most any of these people would NEED to tow…

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      My father-in-law has a 1998 Tahoe, with close to 200K on original engine, transmission and AC. Gets round 21-22 Highway. He just puts tires, shocks, brakes and regular maintenace to keep it rolling.

      • 0 avatar
        sfay3

        I doubt it gets 21-22 mpg.

        http://fueleconomy.gov/feg/PowerSearch.do?action=noform&path=1&year1=1998&year2=1998&make=Chevrolet&model=Tahoe%201500%202WD&srchtyp=ymm

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      These aren’t THAT popular.

      GM has sold about 71000 of the GMT900 SUVs this year. However, they’ve moved around 95000 Lambdas and 165000 Thetas.

      The big Fords and Toyotas also sell in pretty small numbers.

      So it looks like a lot of buyers agree with you.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      If your truck “bobbles and wallows”, you need new shocks, but what’s “macho” about a station wagon?

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Same! I drove the short wheelbase tahoe once and only once. One of the worst vehicles I have ever driven, the seats were terrible, the dash and steering wheel design made me LOL they were so bad, it’s brake power was barely enough to come to a normal stop (I had to drive it like a granny I was so worried about plowing into someone), it wallowed all over the rode like a fat pig, and it’s throttle tip in was just awful, almost like it was using a cable that was bound up somewhere in the linkages to a carb on a vehicle made 40 years ago. I would drive a minivan over one of these, any single day of the week.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        LOL about all the brake comments. I drove a GTM800 Suburban for years. 3 or 4 people in it, going through a fairly quick series of 5 or 6 stops from 50kmph — like in the alternating stop signs commonly found in residential neighboughoods — and the pedal would became mush and almost sink to the floor the brakes were so faded. Brakes were almost dangerously undersized for a vehicle of that weight. On my way home from trading it in (lexus ls) I had to do what I was used to being a panic stop in the truck and ended up stopping about 35 feet short of where I needed to.

        That being said there was something about that truck that I just loved. A car magazine back in the day described it something like “when you get into a Surban it always feel like you are coming home.” Despite all the cheap plastics, poor mileage, cheap leather seats, et al. that thing had the best ergonomics of anything i’ve ever owned. It was a great daily driver in its own right and was/is probably the ultimate roadtrip vehicle.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Most of them have cylinder deactivation, so they aren’t necessarily running on all eight at all times.

    These are very good products, far superior to Ford with the 5.4L engine.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “Most?” I did not know this feature had made it into any engine but the 6.0. If it has, that’s good. This is one area where GM has a technical advantage over some of the competition and the fuel savings could be significant at low additional unit cost.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Time to buy oil stocks. I see a spike in oil coming in 3…2…

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    perhapse this is in preparation for the 2013 redesign

  • avatar
    rickyc

    Soccer moms love these so they can bully you out of your lane. Here in Texas most who driver these are pretty soccer moms who yap on their cell phone and bulldoze anyone in their way.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Ford still makes the Expedition?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Expedition is still around, and currently the Ford product most in need of a redesign or at least a very heavy refresh. There hasn’t been any real change other than upgraded nav/electronics since the ’07 redesign.

      In that same period of time the F-150 has moved to a heavily upgraded frame, new bodystyle, and all new engines.

      The Expedition/Navigator still have far superior interior packaging compared to the Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade, with all three rows offering considerably more room for passengers and a third row that folds down flat without having to remove a seat. However, the 5.4 V8 is seriously long in tooth at this point. Just redoing these to add the 5.0 and the 3.5 EcoBoost along with electric power steering and some suspension upgrades would negate any advantage the GM fullsize SUVs have, but the ’13 models for the Expedition and Navigator are carryover again.

      I can understand focusing on the larger volume vehicles and those that can be moved to global platforms first, but it’s beyond time to update the Expedition and Navigator.

  • avatar
    DemosCat

    Right, because the price of oil will never spike again.

    It seems to me there are two kinds purchasers of the monster-size SUV.

    1. The individual who actually needs the capacity to go camping, hunting, boating, etc. These guys are in it for the utility, and don’t panic-sell just because the price of oil fluctuates. In fact, these guys probably look forward to the next oil spike, because that’s when it becomes a buyer’s market if the old SUV needs to be replaced.

    2. Soccer Moms and guys with penis envy, who feel inadequate if they aren’t driving the biggest thing out there. These are the people with goldfish memories, who panic-sell the SUV when oil prices go up, then buy again when the price goes back down. And yes, I’ve met people this dumb.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      When oil prices do spike, a few will dump their large SUVs and a few are so damn rich, it doesn’t matter. Everyone else in the middle will just deal with it. They may be “monster-size” from where you’re standing/sitting, but the next smaller class are 9/10s the size, 9/10s the price with 9/10s the fuel consumption.

      Trucking companies will spec out a truck 10% bigger than what they usually need 90% of the time. It’s not just for safety reasons, but they’ll experience less down time, less wear & tear and those trucks will last longer.

      The comfort argument as well as the “penis envy” I’ll leave alone, but there’s no question small and mid-size SUVs & crossovers don’t hold up as well as large SUVs when driven hard, over time.

      My brother has always bought used mid-size Nissan and Toyota SUVs in fair condition at around 150K miles because he’s a mizer. All of them crap out shortly after from bad transmissions, head gaskets or oil pumps. I told him to knock it off and get a 150K mile Expedition. That was several years ago and his Expedition is still going strong. It averages 15 MPG which is the same as his mid-sizers got.

  • avatar
    bmmr

    These trucks with the 5.3 get almost the same fuel economy as an Equinox V6 …which gets 16/23

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      …and accelerates to 60 2 seconds faster than the 5.3 truck (now that the V6 is the 3.6).

      A fair comparison would be with the Equinox four-cylinder, which gets 22/32, or half again the mileage of the 5.3 Suburban. An even fairer comparison would be with the V6 Traverse, which gets 17/24, while still beating the Burban in speed and coming close to matching it in interior volume.

      • 0 avatar
        caltemus

        You cant define a vehicle by volume and acceleration numbers alone, the truck has historically been reliable and it cant really be compared to an equinox, they are entirely different types of vehicle, and would not be cross shopped.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Besides the wealthy and those who really need (or at least think they need) a big SUV to both tow for recreational activities (boat, camper, motocross bikes, etc) and have an enclosed place for both a bunch of passengers and their gear, I doubt they sell a lot of these. For the price, there are just too many other, better, more modern options. The market for big ‘ole, old school, ‘prestige’ domestic SUVs dried up sometime ago. Just ask GM what happened to the Hummer.

    But the profit margin is high, and the market must still be big enough to warrant continuing production of the these land yachts.

    Maybe just saying the Tahoe, Escalade, Suburban, and all the others have dropped out of the mainstream, are now niche vehicles, and calling it a day might be the best summation.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    My parents currently have a 2007 Yukon and a 2011 Yukon. There was a two year experience with 2009 Saturn Outlook, but the poor visibility and all of the road noise sent them to purchase the 2011 GMC. The more upright Yukon design simply looks better, and the full-sizers have better feeling seats up front. The rear-drive body on frame setup may not be athletic, but it doesn’t transmit as much road texture and vibration into the cabin.

  • avatar
    mjal

    Dal – Do you have actual interior volume specs available on the Suburban relative to an Enclave/Traverse or any minivan? I own an Enclave while my sister owns a Suburban, and I can tell you the Suburban blows the Enclave away as far as cargo area behind the 3rd row. We also only seem to achieve 12-13mpg around town, not much worse that the Suburban. I would bet the Suburban is at or near the top in interior volume.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    GM owns this lucrative segment, typically capturing 3/4 of full size SUV sales. The segment is much smaller than it was a few years ago, but GM still sold almost 800,000 vehicles on this platform last year, including the pickups.

    GM will be releasing all new 2013 pickups along with their “utility” platform mates soon, which should result in volume increases.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Anyone stupid enough to buy one of these turds deserve everything that goes with them.


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