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GMC Granite Concept – A Compact Pickup For Millennials?


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GMC Granite Concept – A Compact Pickup For Millennials?

GM’s truck brand could fill a gaping hole in truck segment.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.24, 2010

The GMC Granite Pickup Concept - designed for Californians by Californians. But will it appeal to the rest of the country?

Could the GMC Granite Concept be the shape of things to come in the compact pickup segment?

American automakers have walked away from the once huge niche – or at least they will when Ford pulls the plug, next year, on the ancient Ranger. A new Ford bearing that name has been launched overseas but there are no plans to bring it here, the maker firmly declares.

For those who want something smaller than an F-150, Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra but want to stick with the domestics, that leaves little – make that no – option. Maybe.

“GM Design believes there is an opportunity for a small truck because nobody else is doing this right now,” says Clay Dean, the executive director of GM’s advanced global design studios.

If the Granite name sounds familiar, that’s because GMC has already used it on an edgy little crossover/SUV, which made its debut at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. Indeed, the pickup prototype has some key design features in compact with the crossover concept from the nose back to the B-pillar.

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Developed at the GM studio in Southern California, the Granite pickup was “designed to be modular,” according to the studio’s manager, Robb McCann.

That brings to mind some of the funky, but flexible styling exercises the now-abandoned Pontiac brand rolled out in the late 1980s and 1990s. The goal, back then, and again now, is to come up with a sort of Swiss Army Knife on wheels.

Considering the wheelbase of the Granite Concept is only 110 inches, a 4-foot cargo bed seems reasonable. But with just a few moves and it stretches to 6 feet. One of the tricks was to replace the conventional pickup tailgate with Dutch-style split rear doors. Open them up and pull out a hidden pallet to get the added length.

Designed to appeal to the California crowd, one of the neater tricks is a foldaway “pack rack.” Popped up, it looks a bit like a rollbar but, in fact, provides a way to carry bikes, surfboards or additional sheets of plywood, depending on your personal bent.

And there are plenty of pop-open and hideaway storage bins behind the cab and built into the sides of the cargo box. There’s even a built-in air compressor.

Officially, the GMC Granite pickup is just a styling exercise, but one thing we’ve learned, in recent years, is that the era of the pure fantasy in chrome is largely over. Even the wildest design exercises tend to have a specific purpose, usually to sound out ideas that a manufacturer really does want to put into production.

The Granite crossover is one that GMC continues studying and the hints coming from senior General Motors executives suggest the maker would like to find a good business plan to get back into the compact pickup segment.

It’s not an easy sell – either to consumers or the bean-counters who would have to approve such a product. Ford, for example, recognized that a truly competitive version of the Ranger would either be too large or too expensive and simply not offer any real advantage over the F-Series.

Maybe. But while that big Ford truck does get a new, more fuel-efficient V6, it still wouldn’t be able to match the mileage of a Granite with a 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4, which is what GMC outfits the concept with. And on crowded California streets, the General Motors offering would deliver a lot more maneuverability than an F-Series, Silverado or Sierra.

So, watch this space. Perhaps this Granite will rock on…even if it does carry a GMC, rather than Chevy badge.



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