GM Defends Full-Sized Truck Investment

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
gm defends full sized truck investment

The word “truth” in our title has long been a cudgel for our critics, who, finding fault with our analysis, condemn us for failing to publish their version of the truth. But, as I’ve steadfastly maintained since taking up TTAC’s editorial reins, we do not hold ourselves up as the sole source of truth. Rather, by provoking an engaging discussion, we hope that our readers will use our posts as a jumping-off point to debate the issue at hand with vigor. The truth, as I find myself saying again and again, is a journey, not a destination.

Accordingly, I’m always thrilled when manufacturers read our pieces and offer up their own counterpoint to the discussion, broadening our understanding of the issue at hand and moving the conversation forward. One of my posts from yesterday, which examined GM’s decision to invest in full-sized truck production in the midst of CAFE negotiations and an inventory backlog, has drawn just such a thoughtful response from GM’s Tom Wilkinson, which is published after the jump. It provides some inside perspective on GM’s decision to move forward with the next generation of full-sized pickups, and is a great example of the kind of conversations that TTAC hopes to start every day.

Wilkinson, who works on the Chevrolet communications team, writes:

Customers currently buying pickups are generally those who need the capability of a full-size truck for hauling and/or towing. Consequently, we expect full-size pickups to remain around 11 percent of the total U.S. vehicle market. Chevrolet is currently a strong second in the segment, with 27 to 28 percent share, and we expect to defend, and potentially grow that share.

Following a boom during the mid-1990s, resulting from the demise of most large cars and station wagons coupled with cheap gas and attractive lease payments, utilities have returned to pre-boom sales levels. Full-size utilities are purchased by affluent customers who need passenger and cargo space and towing capability, and we expect volume to remain relatively stable. Chevrolet intends to defend its dominant position (almost 50 percent share) with a new generation of more efficient Tahoes and Suburbans.

You are correct that many of the personal use buyers who fueled the truck boom have moved on, to sporty cars for those who just wanted power and style, and to crossovers for those who just need space. Please note that Chevrolet and other GM brands are doing very well in both segments, so it is not like we lost these customers.

I don’t think we, or any of our competitors, expect full-size trucks to return to housing-boom levels. Note that we have resized our manufacturing footprint to compete effectively and profitably at realistic future sales levels. That fact seems to be lost on some of the critics, who seem to have snoozed through the plant closings of the past few years.

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3 of 42 comments
  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Jul 23, 2011

    How do places such as Europe get along ok without pickup trucks?

    • Patrickj Patrickj on Jul 23, 2011

      A cousin of mine owns a farm in Ireland with several hundred acres of hay, cattle, and sheep. Last time I was there, this was the largest highway vehicle he owned. He used a trailer with it and moved most things on the land by tractor. Cattle and heavier materials were transported by hiring a friend with a stake-body truck.

  • Rob Rob on Jul 24, 2011

    No matter what CAFE noise is being made today or requirements are planned for tomorrow, at the end of the day no CAFE rule will survive that does not allow the Big Three to make a profit - and that means selling highly profitable full-size trucks. Tolerance for CAFE only exists when CAFE is playing catch up to automaker technology instead of the other way around. As soon as that dynamic reverses and CAFE becomes painful, the automakers know that a change in policy is only one election away.

  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!
  • Ribbedroof Have one in the shop for minor front collision repairs right now,I've seen more of these in the comments than in the 30 years I've been in collision repair.
  • Tassos And all 3 were ordered by Fisker's mother. Seriously, given Fisker's terrible record of Failure in the past, only an utter loser, (for example, VGhost or Art Vandelay?), looking for a BEV terrible enough to be a proper replacement of his 11 mile range Fiat 500E, would order one of these. (apart from Fisker's mother)
  • Tassos And all 3 of them were ordered by Fisker's mother.Seriously, after Fisker's DISMAL record of UTTER FAILURE in the past, only a GOD DAMNED MORON would order this one.