By on December 4, 2018

2019 Silverado 4500HD, 5500HD and 6500HD

With passenger cars deserting the ranks, the battle for sales and profit in Detroit will be waged almost solely with trucks. You’ve already seen what General Motors has in store for HD truck buyers, and Fiat Chrysler’s expected to reveal its own alternative to Ford’s Super Duty line before long.

However, as lucrative as half-tons and HDs are, GM’s looking forward to challenging Ford with its new, medium-duty Silverado line, revealed earlier this year. With this truck, The General hopes to turn medium-duty sales into commercial demand for lower-rung pickups and SUVs.

The more profitable side of fleet sales — commercial sales — is square in GM’s sights, Reuters reports. Last year, the automaker announced a plan to boost profitability by stemming the flow of vehicles, mainly cars, to rental fleets. Now, it’s stemming the flow of cars to retail buyers in order to turn out the lights in underperforming plants. That leaves higher-margin trucks to generate extra cash for the automaker.

In the commercial truck field, Ford is king, but GM’s making headway. The automaker recorded a 24 percent year-over-year rise in commercial sales in November, even as retail sales dropped 1 percent. (GM now keeps its full sales stats away from prying eyes, releasing the data only on a quarterly basis.)

2019 Silverado 4500HD, 5500HD and 6500HD

At the same time, year-to-date rental sales have fallen to 10 percent of GM’s volume, down from 15.8 percent five years ago. Over that term, commercial sales rose from 7.8 percent of total volume to 11 percent.

This week, GM and partner Navistar International Corp. kick off production of the Silverado 4500, 5500, and 6500 with the hope of attracting orders from public works departments, utilities, and construction companies. The company hopes that, as seen with other medium-duty trucks, these sales translate into purchases of smaller GM vehicles. The industry average is about six light trucks and cars for the purchase of every medium-duty truck.

GM jettisoned its medium-duty truck line during the 2009 bankruptcy. Now, the line returns — with much more corporate branding than before, plus a direct lineage to the well-known Silverado line — just as the automaker dives deep into its streamlining efforts.

As for GM’s main competitor, Ford’s commercial fleet sales amounted to 12.4 percent of total volume in November, up 2.1 points over last November’s tally. Year to date, the Blue Oval’s commercial volume stands at 12.9 percent, up one point from last year. In contrast, rental sales of 7.5 percent last month represent a 2.9 percent drop over the same period last year.

[Images: General Motors]

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23 Comments on “GM Betting on Commercial Sales in Bid to Bruise Ford...”


  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    This commercial market will be difficult for GM to wedge themselves back into. A lot has happened in 10 years, especially when their former commercial dealers were conditioned to all but abandon these sales.

    My brother shopped Ford, Ram, and GM when we bought our last truck in ’17. The young truck sales guy at our local GM dealer was ill-prepared (trained) to answer the questions of a fleet buyer. That type of scenario is going to be a large part of the battle. Dedicated fleet people are HUGE for this market. Our local Ford/Ram dealer has a guy who has been a fleet guy for decades and he knows his stuff inside and out. Those kinds of people keep fleet buyers coming back year after year.

    GM’s recently introduced product in the Class 4, 5, & 6 market looks decent in photos, but that will only go so far. The landscaper located next door to my work used to have one of GM’s 5500 medium duty “vans” from roughly 10 years ago. It wasn’t long until it got traded off on a Ford F650. It’s been a total Ford fleet since then.

  • avatar
    cardave5150

    Do you see what they did there? They named their medium-duty line “Silverado.” Now they can lump those sales in with their light-duty and heavy-duty sales, hoping to be able to overtake Ford’s F-Series sales crown.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Ford only counts F-450s as “F-series” sales if they come with a pickup bed, plus they do roll down the same assembly-line as F-series HD pickups.

      For GM, nothing over their 1-ton dually pickups will go down a pickup assembly line, meaning no Cab-n-chassis (Class 4 and up, Navistar built) will be counted as Silverado or Sierra sales.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Anybody remember the International CXT? Is it just a matter of time before a bro slaps a bed and a set of exhaust stacks on this.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Back in the early 90s a colleauge of my father’s took a semi-tractor with no sleeper (two drive axles) and slapped a flatbed behind the cab. He did have a CDL and his career was in diesel mechanics.

      He didn’t daily drive it but he did have a lot of fun.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    When GM made their TopKick / C50, C60 and C70 trucks, I always remember them being utter garbage. The hallmarks were, 2x or 3x times swapped out SBCs, or even worse was the rubbish 8.2L Detroit Non-Turbo Diesels that were replaced with the marginally better yet gutless 3208 CATs.

    The doors were always in a state of perpetually falling off and the cabs creaked, leaked cold air and had cracked windshields (GM claimed the body had to be “loose” so that it could handle frame flex under heavy loads.). Let’s not forget the interior bits that turned to powder after about 6 years.

    I invite anyone to go to farm auctions, you will see zero C series Med. duty Chev. trucks. All the old farm trucks will be Fords. F or C(cab over)500-800s with their original 300 Big 6, 331-361-391 Industrial V-8’s or 385 Lima Engines still working to this day.

    For the most part if you look at Fleet sales in private or municipal organizations they just about all run Ford Trucks.

    I will admit the Duramax and Allison are a proven package, for the rest of the truck, it’s just another Chinese component knock down kit to be assembled by the quickest and cheapest disgruntled worker.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      We had a ’90 Kodiak with the Cat 3116. Good engine. Lousy truck. My father vowed to never own another pickup-based medium duty truck after our experience. Our Freightliner FL60 was much improved over the Kodiak.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Kodiak/Topkicks weren’t “pickup based”, although they did use pickup-cabs, same as the F-650/750s, but they’re otherwise different animals. The Fords were actually Navistars (now built in-house) and Kodiak/Topkicks were Isuzu made.

        The Kodiak/Topkick used van-cabs in their final generation. Except they would’ve likely been acceptable trucks, Class 4 and up, if they were actually pickup-based.

        • 0 avatar
          EquipmentJunkie

          Yes, my father knew that the Kodiaks weren’t literally pickup-based. He said it tongue in cheek. He just felt that our Kodiak had lots of compromises surrounding its cab.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The Allison is good, but pros in the industry agree, if you could buy ala carte from all the truck makers, the ideal truck would have a Cummins engine, Allison trans, and on a Ford chassis/body.

      The Duramax/Isuzu is a great engine if all you’re doing is pulling your toy hauler or boat on the weekend, but for heavy industrial use, even the Power Stroke is better, will last longer, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      doug-g

      You see a lot of these trucks on the Western Slope.

    • 0 avatar
      IanGTCS

      We just got rid of our four 06 and 07 topkicks at work. Only engine problem we had was needing injectors on one (big expensive job) and amazingly no transmission issues in the 5 years I’ve worked there and we use them to haul and tow every day. Other than the engine and transmission what rattle filled loud creaky random downtime generally unpleasant experience.

  • avatar
    topaz

    These are just rebadged versions of International Navistar trucks already on the market See their CV series. Did GM play any role in the development beyond engineering its grille.? https://www.internationaltrucks.com/trucks/cv-series

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      I’d be more willing to bet that the new International Navistar CV series bodywork is GM with grill engineering. I believe that the CV was developed under the International Navistar/GM partnership.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I agree my understanding was that the basic chassis was jointly developed much in the same way as the Blue Diamond partnership. I was waiting to see what the story on the body was and now we have the answer. The dash in the CV and cab is definitely based on the outgoing GM trucks with a little tweaking.

        • 0 avatar
          WallMeerkat

          I don’t know the ins and outs, but is that not a development of the Ford F650?

          Would be happy to be told it isn’t, I genuinely lose track of who is working with who.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The Blue Diamond venture, which was the JV between Ford and Navistar which produced the Class 6/7 trucks ended a while back. In that case they had a jointly developed chassis but each used their own brand’s cab. This is different because they will be sharing GM’s old cab and it is for class 4/5 trucks.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “In the commercial truck field, Ford is king”

    Really?…. only in light duty and cheapskate truck markets.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Ford currently has a 63% market share in commercial sales of class 2b/3/4/5 trucks. In class 6 they are at 21% and climbing. Yes they are weak in class 7 and are just dipping their toes into class 8 with the heaviest tractor version of the F750.

      So yeah Ford is king at least in the waters this and its twin are swimming in. Even a GM spokesperson agreed when they introduced this truck ““We’ve got to conquest largely from Ford and a little bit from Ram in order to be successful,” said Ed Peper, vice president of GM Fleet and Commercial Operations in the U.S., at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.”

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    For medium-heavy duty would they be better badged as a GMC? To me Chevy is consumer grade, GMC is professional commercial grade.

    • 0 avatar
      orioncanam

      In days of old a GMC franchise sold and serviced everything from a Sprint to an Astro 95. I feel for the franchise’s who coughed up the big $$$$ to get one of these franchise’s.

  • avatar
    orioncanam

    The ultimate goal will be to make money selling overpriced parts from GM CCA ( confused, conceited & arrogant)

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