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    Next Sierra To Move Up?


    William Maley

    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com

    January 24, 2012

    The only way to tell the difference between the current Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra is by slight differences in trim and equipment. That will be changing for the next generation models.

    Mark Reuss, GM’s North American President said during an interview that the next generation pickup trucks, due out in 2014 will be more distinctive. The plan is to move the Sierra more upmarket with more standard equipment, more distinctive sheetmetal and corresponding higher sticker prices. A plan like this has worked for GMC's SUV lineup.

    “I think you will see equipment and models attacked very differently. If we are going to carry two brands, we are going to make them pay their way,” said Reuss

    Source: Autoweek

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    A similar strategy has proved successful in differentiating GMC's Terrain and Yukon models from Chevrolet's Equinox, Tahoe and Suburban.

    What's important to note is that this does not mean that top-of-the-line models are only sold. The base Terrain, for example, is priced slightly higher than the base Equinox because it has some of the Equinox's options as standard equipment. When all is said and done, you can fully equip a Terrain and an Equinox and they'd likely be very close in price - but you;d still have two distinctive looking CUVs. I think this is what Reuss means and that you will see more of a styling distinction between the next Sierra and Silverado. Actually, compare the two current 2012 models and you'll see that they are more different than the previous models (GMT-800): both have different styled front ends, including front fenders, hoods, bumpers, and grilles/headlights; the bedsides are different, as the Sierra has an exaggerated fender flare style while the Silverado gets mini dually-inspired fender embossing; the tail lights are different in lighting patterns from the Sierra to the Silverado (Sierra: red bulb, red bulb, white bulb/Silverado: red bulb, white bulb, red bulb - each has its own look). Now cabs, doors, and tailgates are shared - which means the 2013(4) models could have different shaping to the doors and tailgates (I can't see a major difference in cab design). The major distinction can come with the interiors - where the Sierra has a different interior from the Silverado.

    The first series GMT-800s ('99-'02) had some notable differences, but it wasn't until the second series GMT-800s ('03-'07) that even more differences were made (and GM made even more with the intro of the GMT-900s, as I noted above). The beloved GMT-400 pickups are hard to tell from the side and rear if you remove all of the emblems (well, that's not completely true, I can tell a Chevy C/K from a GMC C/K) - it's all in the front end styling, just like it was from the beginning with GMC and Chevrolet pickups.

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    So will GMC be dropping the work truck models and commercial cabs? I always though GMC should be the commercial and business fleet brand and Chevy the retail brand. If Buick and Cadillac have luxury suvs do we need a 3rd brand of luxury Suvs.

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    I still don't see why GM needs virtually identical work truck and commercial versions of the Chevy and GMC trucks and vans..

    They don't. That is why GMC should be work truck or commercial trim, and Chevy should not build a work truck.

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    THis will either make or break GMC.

    I think people will pay for it if it is right but if they do fail to pay the extra buck it will crush GMC. But this is something that needs to be done. GMC will be able to afford to sell less vehicles if they get the higher price.

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    What's important to note is...

    Well & accurately stated.

    If Buick and Cadillac have luxury suvs do we need a 3rd brand of luxury Suvs.

    As long as GMCs sell, and sell well, I see zero difference in the scenario : >>If mercedees and BMW have luxury suvs do we need a 3rd brand of luxury Suvs @ Audi<<.

    "Oh, those are completely different, from different companies!"

    And, if each sells (here, not always 'well' tho), each appeals to an individual buyer, no?

    If a Silverado & a Sierra sell & sell well (they absolutely do), why are folk getting their panties in a bunch?

    If the Sierra sold a few hundred/year, and at a loss; that'd be a different conversation completely. Get the point of being in business straight, people.

    Those that feel the two are too alike should look at them as optional trims of the same vehicle so they can sleep at night.

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    Currently, I would not buy a Silverado, though it is nice it's just not what I prefer in styling. Thankfully GM offers a 2nd pickup - the Sierra - that I do prefer the styling of. WIN = GM, because they would keep me as a customer (say from going to Ford or Dodge). Now conversely, I like the Tahoe/Suburban styling much more over the Yukon/XL, and again WIN = GM, as I wouldn't go to Ford or a foreign brand for a SUV purchase.

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    Remember, GMC is a cash machine for General Motors and as such I don't foresee this new plan for the GMC Sierra to be a nail in the coffin.

    Remember, this plan worked for the Terrain and it's not that the Sierra won't offer basic trim models, but they will come with more standard features over the basic Silverado.

    That is, unless GM is going to identify Chevy as the fleet leader in trucks and move GMC pickups upmarket with SLE as the basic trim. This now leads to the question of the future of the Savana, as it and the current Canyon will be the oldest models in GMCs lineup.

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    There's 2 approaches here:

    1) Company decides what the brands are, and makes the products accordingly. With this approach, it makes sense that GMC would be work trucks, and Chevy would be consumer trucks.

    2) Consumer demand decides what the brands are, and the company shapes the products accordingly. For whatever reason(s), over time GMC has gotten an upscale image, and many well to-do consumer buyers would rather be seen in a GMC than a Chevy, and they want lux options. Not every GMC buyer of course, but there are plenty of people who want a loaded Denali, and GM makes good money building & selling them.

    So, what's the right approach?

    Maybe that's the wrong question. Perhaps GMC trucks should be everything Chevy trucks are, and more. More commercial options available, *and* more lux options available. Build two product lines within GMC: Denali and a more work-oriented line, like the Dodge Tradesman. The Tradesman-esque line not meaning "stripped down", but rather "aimed at those who use their trucks for serious daily work". No matter the model, have something that sets it apart. Perhaps set some kind of drivetrain and/or durability standards to brag on, like Jeep's "Trail Rated" stuff. Perhaps put a slightly longer warranty on the GMCs (120k/6yr instead of 100k/5yr) to accompany the bragged durability rating, further justifying a bit of a price premium for the GMC over the Chevy.

    Edited by PurdueGuy
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    ^ The 'work model' is absolutely a good idea. There is a BUNCH of things they could offer there: tailgate 'work bench' features, rear seat delete on crew cabs with a lower platform & modular trays/boxes, wider-opening doors for loading/unloading, more power outlets, more storage, accessories.... and not give ANY of it to Chevy (whisper: tho one could order many of these & retro-fit a Silverado).

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    I believe we are going to see three models of Sierra.... you're going to have your standard models, with SL/SLE/SLT trims, you will have your luxury models with the Denali trim, and a new model line will be offered based on the All-Terrain package that debuted in 2008 (but takes it more serious, a'la the 2011 Sierra HD All-Terrain concept). I question if the W/T (Work Truck) models will remain, as this may become a Chevy-only trim (I never understood this with the GMT-900 pickups - prior to the 900s, the trims were SL, SL W/T, SLE, and SLT; with the 900s came W/T, W/T SL, SLE, and SLT - why make the W/T the standard model when it was suppose to be a very decontented SL model? [value leader]). Anyway, looking at the Terrain & Acadia as inspiration for the new uplevel models, the Terrain starts with the SLE level, while the Acadia added a SL model in 2010 (very decontented SLE model). Even in fleet mode these two CUVs don't offer a W/T package, again start with the SLE (Acadia SL) and go up from there. While I know some GMC owners like their decontented W/T trims, I think GMC may now be moving to the SL or SLE model as the standard trim, leaving the W/T trim to Chevy to be the value leader of GM's pickups.

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    Another thought... seeing as how there are very few GMC Medium Duty dealerships around anymore (and come to think of it, I don't see many Chevy ones either now that the Isuzu-based W & T series are gone and the Topkick/Kodiak trucks are gone too), I wonder if GMC is going to offer a commercial truck line anymore? I'm not talking about not offering commercial vehicles, I'm talking about no longer offering work truck trim on any of their models (currently, only the Savana, Canyon, and Sierra offer work truck trim levels - Yukon/XL, Terrain, and Acadia don't but are still part of the GMC Commercial Truck business). The Savana brochures have been very thin the past 3-4 years, and for 2012 the Canyon Mid-box prep package was deleted; seeing as how these are the oldest GMCs available, I wonder if the Savana will be gone in the near future (leaving either the Chevy Express as the sole van offering or bringing in an Opel van, a'la Ford Transit as a replacement) and if the Canyon gets a replacement, it too will go upmarket like the Sierra?

    Time will tell...

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