By on August 5, 2019

Unlike the botched launch of Ram’s new-for-2019 1500 pickup, General Motors from the very outset planned to release its equally new full-size trucks in dribs and drabs. Sales have taken a hit as the automaker focused first on lucrative crew cab models, recently boosting production of the popular bodystyle, as well as that of the arguably more attractive High Country trim. Next comes regular and double cabs, while the polarizing, new-for-2020 Heavy Duty models just went on sale.

As headlines shout about GM’s shrunken truck market share, the automaker claims profits from its revamped models are just fine. Sales will follow — just you wait, GM says.

In discussing the automaker’s healthy second-quarter earnings late last week, GM Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara commented, “You’re really starting to see the earnings potential of our truck franchise.”

The company’s key North American business saw a 10.7-percent profit margin in the past quarter, with Suryadevara giving partial credit to the revamped Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra lines, both of which boast significant increases in average selling price over the previous models. Sales themselves are something of a mystery, as the automaker (joined by Ford and Fiat Chrysler) no longer issues monthly reports. Through the first half of the year, Silverado sales dropped 11.8 percent; the Sierra nameplate fell 3.4 percent. Over the same period, Ram sales soared 28 percent, bolstered by the new HD and the continuation of the previous-gen 1500 “Classic.”

As reported by Automotive News, Suryadevara told shareholders, “We had a deliberate strategy that our launch would be cadenced. It was a strategy that was rolled out on purpose, and it’s working.”

Still, falling to third place behind Ford and Fiat Chrysler is not an enviable situation. It raises concerns that the now second-place Ram brand may have received a lasting boost from GM’s slow roll-out — at least according to Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell. “There has to be some concern somewhere,” she said of the mindset in GM’s C-suite.

“You could have a deliberate launch strategy, but if your direct competition is gaining share, that’s a threat to your business.”

FCA CEO Mike Manley was eager to state that the Ram brand has seen its full-size pickup market share rise 7 points in the past year — data that no doubt stings a few GM execs, recent profits notwithstanding.

Speaking of earnings, Suryadevara forecasts a healthier balance sheet in the second half of the year, linking the company’s fiscal performance with a predicted sales boost for the full line of Silverado and Sierra trucks.

[Images: General Motors]

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49 Comments on “GM: Pickup Profit Is Paramount, but Expect a Sales Rebound...”


  • avatar
    JoeBrick

    I see that Mr. Suribachivishnu is ALSO a graduate of the Michigan Institute of Terminology, with a very high degree in B.S. .

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      Agree. Just imagine how much profitability they would have if they didn’t need to run TV commercials touting 20% off sticker price! They could pay down the major interior overhaul that Automotive News reported is coming in the 2020 or 2021 GM trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Well, that 20% off MSRP is also so much BS in the real world, at least in MY region which in centered in El Paso, TX, and radiates outward to include West Texas, all of NM, and Eastern AZ.

        Push comes to shove when you sit down to deal only to find out that transportation costs ($1695) is not included in the discount, neither is….(whatever else the dealer can list or come up with).

        And the “dealer added” items, like alloy wheels, side steps, lift kits, and other paraphernalia like paint sealant and glass etching are also not included in the discount. The sealant does help some against the blazing sun, and the etching does discourage theft.

        One 2019 Silverado LT my best friend looked at had 5″ chrome-tube side steps for an added $750. That’s nuts, I’ve bought similar steps from Amazon for $185 with free delivery and no tax, and installed them myself in less than one hour, (by myself.)

        No, best deal we’ve found were on a full-pop Titan that actually gave a $6500 discount off a $65K MSRP, plus another $1K off for military discount. This is LTZ and HighCountry territory.

        I agree with JoeBrick, this Dhivya Suryadevara guy is an optimist to the extreme. Sales may improve in time, sure, but between the F150, Silverado/Sierra and the RAM, the RAM is the best riding, best handling truck with the best interior. No exceptions.

        And that’s no bull.

        • 0 avatar
          EquipmentJunkie

          I agree that there is always BS in the fine print. However, when was the last time you saw ads for a brand-new pickup design touting those levels of discounts? My local GMC dealer even had new trucks with “$9,100 off” written on the windshields in bright tempera paint.

          An earnings-focussed GM has to resort to a lot of marketing hype involving heavy discounts…illusionary or not. That was my point.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-X

          Dhivya Suryadevara is a female, and age 39 at that.

          As a side note (and even for/if a “brilliant” person): I can hardly have confidence in someone of that age in a messed up, directionless company like GM, with a history of spin and misinformation. Someone sure got the fast track.

          It’s no skin of Dhivya Suryadevara’s million dollar paycheck if she fails to make targets for several years. There’s plenty of scapegoats at GM.

          • 0 avatar
            JoeBrick

            @Detroit-X-“Dhivya Suryadevara is a female, and age 39 at that. “…even that is no excuse.
            GM “Chief FINANCIAL OFFICER” ? Then the blame for that CHEAP-ASS interior belongs at her feet !
            Why is she out commenting about the cadenced launch of her truck franchise ? She should be back at her desk analyzing charts of customer satisfaction vs sales penetration..Of course we all know that that she has people AT LEAST three or four levels below her doing any actual WORK, which probably does not include studying charts involving customer satisfaction…

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Had no idea this person was female.

            I’m still trying to figure out how to pronounce the name, for heaven’s sake!

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Fast track, thy name is “diversity!”

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            My apologies to Dhivya Suryadevara for mis-gendering her.

          • 0 avatar
            Detroit-X

            JoeBrick: I acknowledge your rage (i.e. total disappointment of a past US icon, GM, being stupid, again. Let’s never forget that Republicans and Democrats have often agreed with each other, and had that same rage and opinion of GM.

            Like most of GM’s One-Percenter executive clowns, they, staring down at Detroit and the USA from their privileged perch from the XX floor of the RenCen, basking in the glow of “I am here, so I must be great,” and GM is so great to recognize that… Suryadevara doesn’t “analyze.” She probably doesn’t think too much about the auto business, just career path. She just plays the GM game and asks for some kind of information from her subordinates to ‘go through the motions.’ Analyze? Ha! That’s not her ‘swim lane.’ Wrong decision three years later? There are plenty of subordinates to blame and fire; start with the ones were stubbornly right three years before.

            Not even when Suryadevara gets ‘said information’ does she know what to do with it. What Suryadevara does know is that at $0.5-1.0M per year, she only needs to work at GM for a couple years and she can retire. GO ALONG TO GET ALONG. More years playing the GM game than that, well, good for her; no downside. ‘To heck with GM,’ crosses her mind daily.

            This method and reality is the case at nearly all of the upper 20% of GM executives; they all are a bunch of chimps, wimps, kiss up and kick down types. They play the GM game for career advancement, not company advancement. This… explains 50-75% of the GM Stupidity over the years. The only right decision comes from the top, and it is unquestioned. Disagreeing with that kills your career. With no right decision, all past decisions all appear stupid after some amount of time gone by, and only then can GM employees dare say they are stupid.

            Is this an attack against Suryadevara? Not really. Just like all the GM executive clowns, you have to decide in life how few risks to take, and how far low to lower your character. They all do it.

    • 0 avatar

      Dhivya Suryadevara is a woman. Whatever you think of the KoolAid she’s trying to peddle from GM, at least have the courtesy to spell her name properly. Copy & paste is your friend.

      • 0 avatar
        JoeBrick

        @bROOklynPete- (name too long to spell out (I assume) Brooklyn ?)
        Her name is a classic case of TL/DR. She needs a nickname, like “Dizzy”. Easier on everyone.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Have to say I was unaware of a botched 2019 Ram launch. Google comes up empty. Link?

  • avatar
    Eaststand

    Every time I see this thing, it boggles the mind how a modern car maker in this day and age can make something so hideously ugly. Those sales aint coming.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I don’t know what version of the Silverado I saw last month, but it was cartoonish in proportions and one ugly m********* f******

    I wouldn’t buy it with $20K on the hood and 0% financing offer.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    This article is factually inaccurate.

    First, Ram was already eating Chevrolet’s lunch prior to the new generation being launched. For over a year, Ram steadily gained on Chevrolet and outright overtook it before the launch of the latest hideous Chevrolet Silverdodo.

    Second, the launch of the Ram was not botched at all. Ram used the same rollout that Ford has perfected – build the older version while bringing the new version online. Ram has not lost sales at all to a botched rollout. There was a minimal hiccup, but it was nothing that starved the company for product.

    Third, the problem with GM is that it never rolls out its truck well – the prior version from 2014 was a half-baked effort that was not a smooth rollout. And since the product was so tepidly “improved” over the prior model despite over $1 billion invested in it, Ram was able to close on Chevrolet eventually overtaking it (I’d add Ram did so because it continues to improve its product while GM pays lipservice to improvement).

    Ford and Ram get it when building pickups.

    GM invents excuses. This is the way they’ve done it since the late 1990’s.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      I agree with you Ram has been making steady gains on GM for a couple years now.

      Big picture perspective:

      In my lifetime, GM went from #1 in trucks to #3.

      Ram went from less than 85K units in truck sales for model year 1993 to where they are today. Calendar year 2018 sales were over 536K.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I went along for the ride when my best friend and his wife took a Laramie with air suspension for a spin, sans salesman. The salesmanager told my friend, “take it for a spin”, handed him the fob and said, “See ya when you get back.”

        A lot of ooohs and aaaahs from all three of us. The ride is buttery smooth, the cabin is quiet, road noise is waaaaaay down.

        I sat in the back, and that seat was comfortable. You really have to see the interior of these upscale RAMs for yourself. It’s like being inside a luxury car, and better than a Denali or Escalade.

        I was impressed, and I wasn’t the one shopping. I was getting an education in 2019 MY pickup trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          A friend of mine bought his wife the truck of her dreams, a 2019 Ram Rebel back in May. Very nice, and it made me miss my 2003 Ram 1500, and it was crude as hell compared to the Rebel. I can’t say I was thrilled with the giant tablet, but my friend and his wife love it.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      As a matter of fact, GM- Chevrolet ALSO used the strategy of selling the old model while bringing out the new one with the (I believe) 1989/1990 models when they brought out the all-new, streamlined models.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        Only for the C/K 3500s (and K-Blazer/Jimmy and Suburban); those followed the GMT400s in 1992. Ford followed a similar path with the 1997 F-Series, continuing the older model heavy-duty trucks until the Super Duty arrived in 1998 as 1999 models.

        Speaking of Ford, I believe it was the first to offer both new and old versions of its flagship 1/2 ton truck with the 2003 “Heritage” F-150s.

    • 0 avatar

      Correction: GM’s been making excuses since at least 1981. That’s the year when the X-car’s glaring errors hit sales, the V-8 diesels began self-destructing, Cadillac’s V8-6-4 was permanently in the shop, and the J-car launch underwhelmed.

      • 0 avatar
        Greg Hamilton

        GM seems to have been a rolling disaster for quite some time. How long they can survive is anyone’s guess. It is astounding to me how far they have fallen.

        • 0 avatar
          Michael S6

          They have gone through bankruptcy once that wiped out all bond and stock owner equity. The only thing that is keeping their head above water is pickup profits and somehow they managed to botch this now as well.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The sales are coming… as soon as GM can pump out a refresh with revised front-end styling and some interior materials upgrades on the midlevel trims.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I’m sorry but even a front end refresh can’t save this atrocity, the worst part is the side profile that looks like the product of backwoods inbreeding. The front is bad but the side profile is just ghastly.

      • 0 avatar

        “the worst part is the side profile that looks like the product of backwoods inbreeding.”

        Perhaps that reflects how the designers think of GM’s truck customers.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I guess it’s not hard to lose sight from their ivory tower when their Chinese overlords are unfamiliar with the concept of a middle class. Regardless truck, and general GM customers are responding to GMs disdain for us “undesirables” by taking our business elsewhere.

  • avatar
    James2

    I wish my cataracts were worse –surgery this Nov, probably– so my eyes wouldn’t be able to see either the silver Silverado (say that three times fast) or the black HD. Ugly is not a strong enough word.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Steiner will save us all. Fegelein says so!

    Wait, where’s Steiner?

    Fegelein!
    FEGELEIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    The ALL NEW Chinarado and Mexierra (almost 50% foreign parts content/many assembled in Mexico) that Guangzhou Motors (GM) bragged about radically cheapening in order to get profits even higher (while raising prices) looks like it’s going to be one of the biggest mistakes in GM history -‘EVEN BY GUANGZHOU MOTORS HISTORICAL STANDARDS, A VERY HIGH BAR TO CLEAR!

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I’m surprised they let those front ends get damaged like that right on the assembly line. (Are there any post-repair pictures?)

  • avatar
    Oldschool

    First of all, the Silverado styling is atrocious, but just today I saw a new all black GMC Sierra Denali that looked pretty bad ass, so it’s really the combination of the ugly front end of the Silverado and cheap looking 1990’s interior that really brings down the truck.

    GM V8’s, especially the 5.7 and 5.3 V8’s have all been rock solid motors that I wish they could build forever, and to dare put a turbo 4 banger in a truck so big is a disgrace to the brands reputation.

    With large discounts on the hood to buy their trucks, who does GM think they’re fooling. BTW there profits are up because of all the mass job cuts and building there trucks now in parts of Mexico. Most likely paying slave labor wages to desperate Mexican workers. It’s not like the sheet metal is costing a whole lot when it is so thin and flimsy and trucks today all have plastic front grills and partially plastic bumpers. Give me an heavy duty built tank tough 1969 Chevy C10 or C20 pickup truck when trucks were actually trucks and looked good. New Trucks are so expensive today and fancy that I can only imagine a small scratch or ding would make any owner cringe since they are used more to transport the family than going to Home Depot to pick up lumber and roofing supplies.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      “Most likely paying slave labor wages to desperate Mexican workers.” No, Oldschool, the wages paid by most all outside manufacturers in Mexico (I don’t know about Chinese manufacturers) are more than fair for the local cost of living and allow these folks to do very well. You cannot compare the cost of living in the US to that of Mexico. This disparity in the cost of living between the two countries yields the cost savings for GM, FCA, Ford, BASF (my old company), as well as many others. Quality of products from Mexico varies and is a totally different subject however.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        The wages paid to Mexico autoworkers by Ford, GM, VW, etc, along with Panasonic, Sony and others, is around $5 an hour, which as you said, isn’t too horrible for Mexico.

        But what you don’t hear about is all the nameless “suppliers” of auto parts (including aftermarket) and sub assemblies in Mexico. They’re “sweatshops” paying less than $5 a day, yes that’s less than five dollars (equivalent) per day!

        Search Mexico’s minimum wage.

  • avatar

    GM has the best truck profits among the big three and also the least desirable product. I think we all agree the new Sierra is a disgrace.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The GM twins have been the #2 most profitable pickups for the last 30+ years, despite limited innovation, lacking content/choices, deep in Chinese suppliers and Mexico assembly.

      Except F-series has more luxury trim levels, outsells the fullsize twins in Canada and Mexico by a much greater margin, not to mention the Lincoln Mark LT (popular in the narco trade), plus Class 4 and 5 pickup-based (and platform sharing) medium-duty trucks and F-450 pickups.

      But you would think GM would put more effort into the #2 most profitable vehicles in the world.

      The new Corvette is awesome though, World Class, GM should be proud, although it’s one of the least profitable cars in the world.

      Yet the Ford Raptor has outsold the Corvette. Where’s GM’s head at?

  • avatar
    Oldschool

    Ok, so Mexicans are being paid fair wages considering their cost of living is lower, but I am sure they don’t have the same kind of benefits like U.S employees do. What is sickening, is how much money GM is making off
    per truck sold off the backs of $5.00 an hour wages or however much they pay them. The profit margins must be massive! Unless people protest and refuse to buy a Mexican made truck, they will continue to make hand over fist profits. What is sad is how the D3 has slowly become a Truck/SUV company more than anything. Sure people aren’t buying cars as much anymore, but there’s still a portion of society that just wants a smallish reliable sedan that gets great gas mileage and can fit into modern day parking spaces.

    We’ll see how the rest of year pans out, but personally I would never buy a Mexican made or China made vehicle. Only U.S. Japanese , German, and Canadian built vehicles for me.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      Oldschool- I understand your points, but your arguments would be more believable if you included more specifics, ie: wages of Mexican workers, vs “$5.00 an hour wages or however much they pay them”. That number may be wildly inaccurate, for all we know. And language like “how much money GM is making off
      per truck sold off the backs of [Mexican workers]” sounds anti-free market and class envy-like talk to me. And expecting “people [to] protest and refuse to buy a Mexican made truck,” ? People either buy a truck or don’t- they don’t go home and paint up some signs and come back to the dealer’s to picket. Unless they are maybe democrat/socialists, that is. As far as buying a Mexican or Chinese vehicle, I agree with you.

  • avatar

    How can GM produce a few splendid vehicles like the CTS6-V, Corvette, and Camaro, and then give us garbage like its current large trucks.


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