Redesigned Chevrolet Tahoes and Suburbans are making their way to dealerships just as General Motors could use a boost to its bottom line and many of its retailers have run low on inventory during the pandemic.
"Next to the pickup trucks, [large SUVs] generate the highest profits for General Motors, which it desperately needs right now as we hopefully come out of the pandemic and to provide money to invest in future products and future technologies," said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader.
Production of the redesigned 2021 Tahoe and Suburban started in June, shortly after GM's eight-week shutdown of North American production. GM retooled the Arlington, Texas, plant that builds its large SUVs during the closure. The company began shipping Tahoes to dealerships in June and Suburbans in late July.
GM had to complete production of the previous generation of Tahoe and Suburban at Arlington Assembly while GM's other North American plants were closed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. As workers who volunteered for the assignment finished the buildout, they helped develop health and safety protocols that GM implemented nationwide when the plants reopened.
"We were able to come online sooner than we thought. We've had great success with the protocols put in place there," said Jim Danahy, executive chief engineer of Chevy's full-size trucks and SUVs. "We're running three shifts six days. ... We continue to work with the state and local folks as the pandemic continues to ebb and flow and change. And that's how we've been able to keep up."
Dealers are clamoring for the SUVs, having coped with tight inventory levels over the past few months.
"It's important to support their dealers with fresh new products that they can sell easily and for good prices," Krebs said. "Those are solid, important vehicles for the brand. Fresh and new usually wins."