By on July 27, 2020

Image: GM

GMC’s an interesting brand. Free of cars from the outset (Sprint/Cabalero notwithstanding), General Motors’ truck brand seems well positioned to turn America’s unquenchable thirst for trucks and utility vehicles into big, big bucks.

For the most part, it has, yet glaring shafts of white space remain in the brand’s lineup. Time for a little rearranging?

Automotive Newsproduct pipeline provides a potential window into an automaker’s future, condensing down-low scuttlebutt, corporate whispers, and all other info into a likely product plan. The outlet recently focused on GM, and one thing stood out.

Does everyone recall the Acadia? The former full-size(ish) crossover that went midsize, even as the nameplates that once kept it company remained on the big side of the spectrum? Looks like it’s not staying put.

Refreshed in a questionable manner (in this writer’s opinion) for 2020, the downsized Acadia first came onto the scene in the middle of 2016, positioned above the soon-to-be-downsized (for MY2018) Terrain. GM soon added the Chevrolet Blazer as a two-row midsize option. While the two CUVs share a platform, the Acadia offers seating for up to 7.

Image: GM

That left the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse as the topmost rung of the GM crossover ladder. However, AN claims the Acadia’s trajectory will be boomerang-like, with the model returning to its former home in the near future.

Expected to see a redesign in 2024, the Acadia “will move to a larger platform to become the size of a Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave, as it was in the previous generation,” the outlet wrote. At the bottom of GMC’s product range, a long-awaited subcompact crossover (Granite?) is believed to arrive in about a year.

While the move would stand to make GMC more money on both the high and low end of the lineup, helped along by a new Yukon for ’21, it would also leave the brand with a sizable gap in the middle. Is that space GMC needs to occupy? Depends who you ask.

The Acadia reached new sales heights in 2017, selling more than 111,000 units in the U.S., though the subsequent two years saw sales fall to basically what they were in the two years preceding the model’s size change. The larger Traverse has only seen its fortunes rise over the past half-decade, with the model posting more than 147,000 sales last year. Maybe the Acadia name would be better served affixed to a larger vehicle.

Someone prone to conspiracy theories would suggest that the hollowing out of the middle of GMC’s lineup is all about creating space for an off-road-focused SUV, but there’s no evidence that this is the case. For all we know, the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler will remain the only two contenders in the ring.

[Image: General Motors]

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32 Comments on “GMC: Moving From the Middle?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This is such exciting news, perhaps they’ll rename it “Jimmy” to create even more buzz

    I lost track of the Acadia’s market position a long time ago. Thanks for the rundown as to why

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    HEY GM SINCE YOU’RE SOON TO HAVE NO MORE CARS, HOW ABOUT SOME GMC PERFORMANCE CUVs/SUVs THAT OUT GUN THE FORD ST LINE?

    (Sorry forgive the shouting – I’m ticked that the tea leaves point to the Corvette being the only “car” in GMs lineup post 2023.)

    • 0 avatar
      ttiguy

      Pretty short memory huh? I seem to remember an announcement of a GMC Hummer SUT/SUV EV that’ll do 0-60 in 3 seconds…….

      Is that enough performance for you?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Not for that price – not all of us have 6 figures to throw around.

        Camaro – likely dead by 2023, you can get a V8 model in the $30K-$40K range.

        Even a 2.0T Malibu would do 0-60 in less than 7 sec and quarter in less than 15 sec.

        I’m talking about semi-affordable performance for the common man. Something that was GMs bread and butter for a long time.

        • 0 avatar
          ttiguy

          My gut tells me the GMC Hummer will start around 50k and the fully tricked version will be around 80k. If you are honest with yourself and compare that to current truck prices and consider the fully loaded Bronco is 60k then yes it’s competitively priced

          Whether or not that’s “semi-affordable” to you is your own issue/decision/problem. Not GMC’s

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            It’s a render. The 1400hp Mach E is more real at this point. Everyone not Tesla seems to be battery constrained at the moment so I wouldn’t bet on those prices or it hitting the showroom anytime soon.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            It most definitely IS GMC’s problem. If they want to sell volume, they need to provide the majority of their performance vehicles in the $30k-$40k range, not the $50k-$80k range.

            That’s especially true over the next couple years. The economy may recover quickly from the lockdown (except for restaurants, half of which may never reopen), but personal/household finances will take longer to recover.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            No, if GMC is profitable which indications are they seem to be pulling their weight and then some within GM, then people not being able to afford them is not their problem and there is a strong argument to be made that moving them down the ladder would make them less profitable. Did the “We’ll make it up on volume” approach ever work anywhere at GM?

  • avatar
    JMII

    I continue to fail to understand why GMC is even a thing. Its a Chevy with a different logo. I always though GM should just shut down GMC but now it appears Chevy will become GMC – because its all SUVs and trucks all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt51

      Exactly. GMC exists so Chevrolets can be sold at non-Chevy dealerships.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        At a huge increase in profitability.
        The lease on an Acadia similar to the Blazer I leased in Feb was $200 a month more…and I cross shopped several dealers.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      GMC is just a Buick truck. They’re all just tarted up Chevrolets.

      I don’t know why Buick or Cadillac exist, nevermind GMC. You can get higher tech vehicles from Chevy (like the Bolt), and Chevy is good enough at distinguishing their trim levels that everyone at your rural family cookout knows who paid the most for his/her truck. [shrug]

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It makes no sense to have GMC and Chevy but in relation to trucks but it reduces the odds by 50% of GM totally screwing up both truck lines. I don’t mind the new Silverado 1500 but think the Sierra 1500 is too boxy in the face. The HD Silverado is hideous but the HD Sierra actually carries the new look better than the 1500.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Because of Denali…

        “DENALI BRAND OUTEARNS LAND ROVER 
        Wow, who knew? A report from JP Morgan says that GMC’s Denali sub-brand generates $6.4 billion in revenue. That’s more than Land Rover and close to Audi. And we’re just talking about a trim line, not the entire GMC lineup. So now Buick wants a piece of that action. It’s launching its own sub-brand, called Avenir, just like that show car that generated so much attention. Buick sees an opportunity to appeal to customers who will to pay more for a higher trim level. But it’s not building that show car. Instead, Avenir branded vehicles will get bolder mesh grilles, bigger wheels and special Avenir badging. Buick says three global models will get the Avenir treatment within next year.” Autoline 

        • 0 avatar
          Lichtronamo

          +1

          This was documented through the bankruptcy process. The Gov’t overseers wanted to close GMC, but GM management showed them the books that the brand rakes in the profits. Its the brand for people with money that won’t drive a Chevy and don’t want to be seen in a Cadillac.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Licht, Aaand the power of branding proving itself yet again. GMC, or rather Denali, is in such an enviable position. It’s basically Buick, but GM didn’t screw up the Denali name with crappy products the way Buick got trashed.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Hasn’t that been GM’s problem writ large for decades? Too many brands, with largely similar cars, competing with each other instead of other manufacturers.

      Some was “solved” when GM was swinging the ax in 2009, but I could never quite put my finger on the progression, aside from Chevrolets being the first step and Cadillac being the coup de gras.

      I could never quite figure out where Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac fit. I know Pontiac tried to skew toward the youthful, at least toward the end.

      ***I fully recognize that I’m fairly young and not as familiar with GM’s past, but my impression is that they’ve had too many brands that are trying to be all things to all people.

  • avatar

    GMC, in theory, gives Buick dealers a truck to sell. The two are best considered as a unit. Even better would be to just build better Chevies and scrap the other two divisions. Let GM be Chevy and Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Where I live the local Chevrolet/Buick/GMC/Cadillac dealer is under one rather small roof

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Same here. My local Chevrolet/Buick/GMC/Cadillac dealer is under the old Hummer Quonset hut like structure. The same dealer also used to carry Saab and Pontiac.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Even if they wanted to keep the separate brands, GM could’ve consolidated the dealership franchise so that they can all be Chevy/Buick/GMC dealers. Make GMC the truck, BOF SUV line, Buick the premium CUV, etc. Streamline their line-up.

      But then, even in the current state they have overlapping CUVs from Buick and GMC when they’re supposed to be paired already. GM simply haven’t changed since the days of Chevy Celebrity/Pontiac 6000/Buick Century/Oldsmobile Cutlass. The ghost of Roger Smith is alive and well.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Back in the day, here are some theories which *customers* developed to explain GMC vs. Chevrolet differences:
    • Thicker sheet metal
    • Heavier-gauge wiring
    • Nicer paint

    GMC sells through different dealers than Chevrolet (obviously) and has been quite successful at cultivating a different customer base and offering unique trims (ex. Denali). [One theory holds that the GMC customer is the person who would like to avoid the whole “Calvin sticker” Ford vs. Chevy debate.]

    At old GM, the business case for GMC worked – it was clear-cut, it was not close. If it had been close, the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry would have forced the Chevrolet-GMC consolidation that so many observers occasionally argue for. The Task Force saw the numbers, and GMC stayed.

    History demonstrates (clearly) that when you close GM dealerships, the customers don’t necessarily stay within GM. Consolidate GMC and Chevy in 2020, and you’re going to lose sales.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Im sure when Toyota eventually outsells GM in North America, someone will complain that it wouldn’t have happened if they kept Pontiac.

      GM has been losing sales for decades, and it has more to do with sub par quality and exiting entire segments like cars than anything else.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Nobody cares about your interior’s design (cars like those Bonneville a back then were nicely designed) when you turn around and implement the design with plastic that looked like it came out of a Fisher Price factory only without the durability.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    GMC once had a reputation for being where truck shoppers bought if they couldn’t be bothered to hang around with people buying Chevettes. Now they’re just Buick SUVs

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    GMC Hummer EV
    (Coming in 2021)

  • avatar

    I do not really care why GMC exist. I have more serious issues to worry about. But if I was forced to buy GM truck or CUV given the choice I would rather by GMC than Chevrolet. Why? Because I would prefer GMC and I do not care if they are on same platform or not. Just Don’t Want Chevy.

  • avatar
    ytiradp

    Very curious when reading this that GMC will finally get a subcompact model for 2022, but will it be something better than the Encore GX? I feel like GMCs version should use the D2XU platform to make it wider and longer than the other subcompacts from GM. GMC should aim the “Granite” squarely at the Countryman with style and customization as the core of the model.

    The 2.0T should be the smallest engine for any GMC model with the 2.7T as the upgrade. These models are “professional grade” and should have more features akin to Cadillac than Chevy with totally unique interiors. Hopefully GM has been listening to all the critics on their latest products and push the boundaries more.

  • avatar
    Avnut

    I thought GMC made work trucks, not luxury vehicles. Isn’t their tagline, “We are professional grade”.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      That would have been my post bankruptcy plan for GM. Chevy builds the fancy trucks with leather, heated seats, and other finery.

      GMC builds truly professional grade no frills stuff at a level of quality that any fleet manager would stake his reputation on.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      They mostly sell luxury trucks.

      Actual commercial vehicles are purchased on a dollar-and-cents basis, and GMC carries a price premium.

      I picked up a decade-old GMC Sierra recently to act as a family towbeast, and the “luxury truck” / “professional grade” contradiction actually makes sense in an old-school GM sort of way. If managers are “supposed” to drive Buicks in GM’s alternate universe, the boss on a construction site is “supposed” to drive a GMC truck. It works surprisingly well in terms of branding and customer experience.

      In real life, I got a used truck off of a semi-retired guy, and the truck happens to be a pretty comfortable place to spend time and has the capabilities I was looking for. I have no affinity for the brand — but I see the fantasy that GM is trying to push, and why it can wring a little extra cash out of some truck buyers.

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