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GM line of trucks looking outdated
Big incentives on tap to hang onto customers
June 9, 2004
JEFFREY MCCRACKEN
DETROIT FREE PRESS

The country's largest and most important vehicle line is starting to show its age, and the implications are a bit scary for GM, its workers and largest suppliers.

General Motors Corp. has relied for years on its full-size trucks to generate billions in sales and profits, with hits ranging from the Hummer H2 to the popular Chevrolet Silverado pickup. The lineup was so dominant it forced every other automaker to improve their trucks or prop them up with profit-eating rebates.

However, the lineup is now six years old -- nearly ancient in today's ultra-competitive auto industry, where the first few years for a new vehicle are like the first few weeks at the box office of a Hollywood movie -- that's where the big money is.

Tellingly, GM now needs vastly larger rebates to lure consumers to these trucks, which are taking longer to sell and piling up on dealer lots across the country. Auto experts note that GM will not replace this lineup until 2006 and 2007, so GM still has another two years or more with this suddenly aging line.

"This is a truck lineup that has peaked. It's now long in the tooth, and that is hurting it. It's viewed by the industry trade pubs as just a good lineup, not a great one anymore," said Robert Hinchliffe, who studies the auto industry for the Wall Street firm of UBS Inc. To his point, a July Consumer Reports' study ranked the Chevy Silverado fifth out of six big pickup trucks. In another study, Edmunds.com ranked the Silverado last.

"It's definitely something to keep an eye on. It's their most-important lineup, and now they need incentives where they didn't before," said Hinchliffe.

For nearly five years, this truck line was an industry star, with seven GM factories working overtime to feed fevered consumer demand for big pickups and SUVs.

Ford unveiled its new F-series line of pickups last summer, shortly after Chrysler rolled out its Dodge Ram. Nissan introduced the full-size Titan in late 2003. All of them have sliced into GM's dominance in full-size pickup trucks.

Incentives such as cash rebates on the Silverado jumped from $1,893 per vehicle in April 2002 to $3,453 in April 2004, according to the vehicle-pricing site www.Edmunds.com. The Silverado is now sitting unsold on dealer lots for an average of 68 days, compared to 47 days two years ago.

"The GMT-800 has been an outstanding lineup for GM, but there is no doubt it is getting dated. Ford, with its new truck, and even the Ram, to some extent, have made GM's lineup look dated," said Michael Robinet, vice president of global forecasting services for CSM Worldwide, the Farmington Hills-based auto-research firm.

It also covered holes in GM's struggling car lineup, where GM has continued to lose market share to foreign automakers like Toyota and Hyundai. With the GMT-800 getting older, pressure mounts on new GM cars like the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G6 to be big hits. Both are brand-new models from GM that go on sale later this year.

GM will roll out its replacement for the GMT-800 in late 2006 and early 2007, according to GM insiders and auto experts. The next generation, called the GMT-900 program, will start from GM's truck plant in Janesville, Wis.

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I think they should at least update the current line-up before 2006 to stay competitive. The silverado is the biggest seller for chevy, I can't believe they would let fall to the back of the pack like this.
 

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Originally posted by silverado_13@Jun 9 2004, 01:29 PM
The silverado is the biggest seller for chevy, I can't believe they would let fall to the back of the pack like this.
you took the words outta my mouth. it's not like GM woke up today and realized the interiors were dated. they managed a very nice exterior redo a few years back (approximately mid-cycle, if they end up keeping these trucks until 2006). shoulda done the same with the interiors. a few months back one GMi member said that an interior redo is ridiculously expensive, but i can't believe that a new dash face would be that costly. look at the trailblazer/rainier/envoy/9-7. everything is positioned the same, and i assume the hard parts and mounting points underneath are the same. a reskin could go a long way to making the GM truck interiors look as good as the rest of the truck is. though if they haven't started yet i'm sure it won't happen until they're totally redone for 2006.
 

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I don't know why anyon is surpised. This is typical of GM. Wait until a replacement is two to three years overdue, and then release the new model, just to stay competitive. I wouldn't expect the new model to be anything better than the Tacoma or F-150, especially in the interior.
Can anyone name ONE model, car or truck, fow which this isn't the case?
I'm not talking new models, which for the most part are merely competitive, rarely a leap ahead of the competition.
 

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Originally posted by joshpsf@Jun 9 2004, 02:26 AM
I don't know why anyon is surpised. This is typical of GM.  Wait until a replacement is two to three years overdue, and then release the new model, just to stay competitive.  I wouldn't expect the new model to be anything better than the Tacoma or F-150, especially in the interior.
Can anyone name ONE model, car or truck, fow which this isn't the case?
I'm not talking new models, which for the most part are merely competitive, rarely a leap ahead of the competition.
Your absolutely, 100% Right on! This is tipical for Gm and Im not suprised at all. Chevy full sized trucks are by far the most Boring trucks inside and out stylewize. And to think, another 2-3 years of this, Tisk tisk.
 

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Originally posted by joshpsf@Jun 9 2004, 02:26 PM
I don't know why anyon is surpised. This is typical of GM. Wait until a replacement is two to three years overdue, and then release the new model, just to stay competitive. I wouldn't expect the new model to be anything better than the Tacoma or F-150, especially in the interior.
Can anyone name ONE model, car or truck, fow which this isn't the case?
I'm not talking new models, which for the most part are merely competitive, rarely a leap ahead of the competition.
Once again...

Ford's last F150 design ran 7 years, Dodge's last Ram design ran 8 years. GM last redesigned the Silverado in 1999, and it was "a leap ahead" of all other full size trucks for at least 4 years. Dodge's 2002 redesign didn't surpass it.

GM is redesigning for 2006. That will be a 7 year run for the GMT800 trucks, just like Ford did with their last F150. I see absolutely no reason to think that GM won't make these trucks dominant after the redesign for several years since they did it desively every time they have redsigned their full-size trucks ('73, '88, '99).

Did you deride Ford for carrying their F150 for 7 years? If you did then you must not understand the monumental task of redesiging a platform as large and complex (just look at all the variations) as a full-size truck platform. Manufacturers don't release new designs all at the same time. Someone is always going to have the oldest trucks on the block. That will be GM for 2 model years, then they will have a newer truck than Ford and Dodge for several more years, more than just 2.
 

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The GM trucks are appealing to me in most ways, but its hard for me to believe that the interior design was a "leap ahead" even many years ago (except perhaps from a purely functional ergonomic standpoint). I sat in a buddy's 1995 Suburban and it didn't look all that different - lots of parts like door handles and switchgear look like they were carried over into today's design. GM's large truck interiors could use a redo - its the only glaringly old design element on the surface that a customer will notice when cross shopping other brands, and they did a total reskin of the Sunfire and exterior on the Cavalier with only a few years left.- their money losers.

Also notice that the Latin American Blazers, S-10s got new sheetmetal, and the Suburban got a Silverado-like face lift --- why is the US market always last in line for product styling refreshes?

One more frightening thought - will these trucks be replaced firmly and finally in 2006, or will we see some factory continue to churn out some version of the trucks until 2012 or so (like Blazer, S-10, Grand Am, Astro, etc.)? In that case, a dash styling refresh is seriously needed.

If the interiors were redone, most customers wouldn't know this is an old platform design Other than the Suburban, that is, that mysteriously goes with an old-style grille while every other Chevy product but the Blazer and Astro get updated with the new look.
 

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I've also wondered why the Suburban has been kept almost completely the same for years. But when you look at the new F150, it really is a great truck but I'm sure that the Silverado will jump ahead of it. The Silverado may not technically be the best selling vehicle in America, but when you put the Silverado and the Sierra together (which is basically the same truck) they outsell the F150. I hope that they bring out all of the new trucks at one time in a complete overhall that can bring the GM trucks out of everyone else's league again.
 

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I guess tend to look at things from a functional standpoint first. Asthetics are in the eye of the beholder, and are of secondary importance. The dash in my 2000 Suburban doesn't make me tingle all over (NO dash in this dull dark grey does), but it does all the right things at the right times. The only thing missing is an overhead console.

I seriously have to wonder if all that many customers are put off by the interiors. I don't think GMI members represent the buying public very well, or else GM would be selling about 800,000 Camaros and Firebirds a year. FWIW, I know several people how have bought new GM trucks in the past year, and none of them have had any complaints about the dash or seats, although one didn't like changes to the center console stemming from the 2003 interior changes.

The Cavalier and Sunfire got new front and rear caps and that's about it. Far from a total reskin, and they had remained pretty much the same for 8 model years. The Silverado was only out for 4 years and got the same treatment in 2003.

And I'm glad as hell that the Suburban and Tahoe were spared the Avalanche front end. IMO, that was not an improvement.

I imagine that there will still be GMT800 trucks produced after 2006, just like Ford is still producing the F150 "Heritage" and the Explorer Sport and SportTrac.
 

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Originally posted by MelvinJ@Jun 9 2004, 03:32 PM
I guess tend to look at things from a functional standpoint first.  Asthetics are in the eye of the beholder, and are of secondary importance.
i'm not a truck person, so i don't know for sure, but i'd guess that a good chunk of GM's full-size truck and SUV buyers aren't really truck people either. like you, someone who values a truck for purpose and function is likely okay with the current interior and dash. however, those looking for style and panache probably aren't. it'd be nice to say that GM should cater to the true-blue truck people, but instead they have to accomodate all consumers looking for a big ride.

and yes, a year before the F150 redo the GM interiors might not have been so bad, but it happens that the F150, ram and titan are all new this year and team up to date GM considerably.
 

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Lots of good points. But while I certainly can appreciate that the interior and exterior of these vehicles are dated, I have to say that I am not quite as worried about these trucks having to carry over for another 2 years or so. The article depicts a situation in which GM is losing to the competition in terms of sales, which is hardly the case. With its 6-year old models, GM continues to do well, as is noted in some recent sales achievements:

Truck sales last month were up 11 percent (ahead of the market overall).
The Escalade was up 40% (a May record)
The ESV was up 59% (a best ever month for this vehicle)
The EXT was up 12%
GM moved 90,531 FS pickups last month, up 5%
FS Utilities were up 8.5% to 53,544, also up better than the market.

All in all, not a bad showing for 6 year old trucks. I'm well aware of the relatively massive incentives that played a role in these sales figures, but if these vehicles were truly outdated and unwanted, then sales would not have done so well. And I cannot help but think that $5,000 to move a $10,000+ profit/vehicle Caddy is not that bad; things could be worse.

After all, with similar incentives, GM's car sales were off by 0.4% last month. In terms of allocating finite resources, it seems more responsible to stem the tide of red ink and missed opportunities with GM's myriad cars than with its trucks, which again generally fare better.

In the end, it would be a shame for GM to lose its momentum in trucks, but I'm not so sure they will crumble to the competition, either. I'm just as impatient as the next guy when it comes to new vehicle designs, but my impatience for GM's new cars eclipses that for new trucks-easily.
 

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Originally posted by ibechip@Jun 9 2004, 03:29 PM
The Silverado may not technically be the best selling vehicle in America, but when you put the Silverado and the Sierra together (which is basically the same truck) they outsell the F150.
GM has been selling more full-size trucks for a few years but I'm pretty sure Ford has pulled ahead again. F-150 sales are WAY up, plus the Heritage is still in production, plus ever-strong SuperDuty sales. I'm not sure if the numbers I saw included the Avalanche and Cadilanche however (I think they're classed as SUVs). Not sure what the Lincoln will add to Ford's numbers - probably not much (although they'll be insanely profitable no doubt)...
 

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well well well..its bout time someone noticed it.. only thing is if they knew they were gonna bring back the SS name they shouldve started it with the old silverados not these...and id love to see a trailblazer tahoe and suburban SS'..but i wish GM would put some chrome or something to update the interiors a bit and look at what dodge and ford has done to their full size p/u's..so what if it costs a lil bit more to update the interiors maybe consumers would look at the GM pickups b4 looking at the others if its marketed right and brought to the consumers attention that GM has UPDATED the interiors of the full size pickups..please i hate to see GMs pickups lose to toyota and nissan now that they got full size pickups...and as for the full size suv i wish chevy would update the interior just a little bit not much with a touch of chrome or wood grain on not just one of the versions(LS and LT) put as a option for both or at least standard one of them..
 

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Originally posted by stewacide+Jun 9 2004, 10:09 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (stewacide @ Jun 9 2004, 10:09 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-ibechip@Jun 9 2004, 03:29 PM
The Silverado may not technically be the best selling vehicle in America, but when you put the Silverado and the Sierra together (which is basically the same truck) they outsell the F150.
GM has been selling more full-size trucks for a few years but I'm pretty sure Ford has pulled ahead again. F-150 sales are WAY up, plus the Heritage is still in production, plus ever-strong SuperDuty sales. I'm not sure if the numbers I saw included the Avalanche and Cadilanche however (I think they're classed as SUVs). Not sure what the Lincoln will add to Ford's numbers - probably not much (although they'll be insanely profitable no doubt)... [/b][/quote]
I think by the end of 2005, Ford will easily outsell GM. With the upcoming Lincoln Mark LT, F-150, F-150 Heritage, and the new 2--5 F-250! And all of those truacks are very nice, and up to date...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Originally posted by MelvinJ@Jun 9 2004, 10:32 AM
I don't think GMI members represent the buying public very well, or else GM would be selling about 800,000 Camaros and Firebirds a year.
Perhaps the funniest (and truest?) quote of the year. :lol:

'course, I'm a Cadillac CTS fan myself. ;)
 

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Originally posted by paul8488@Jun 9 2004, 10:38 AM

i'm not a truck person, so i don't know for sure, but i'd guess that a good chunk of GM's full-size truck and SUV buyers aren't really truck people either.  like you, someone who values a truck for purpose and function are likely okay with the current interior and dash. however, those looking for style and panache probably aren't. it'd be nice to say that GM should cater to the true-blue truck people, but instead they have to accomodate all consumers looking for a big ride.
Yep, if GM wants to save money, give the dash an update and keep the old dash design for Fleet sales or something.

Heck, all they need is a new dash cap with a few more sharp edges nad modern syling touches to match the exterior (kinda like how they updated the steering wheels in some GM cars) - they can even keep the switchgear and ancient radios. Dash cap - how expensive can a piece of plastic be to design?
 

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I hope GM can hit another home run in the truck segment...but 2006 does seem too late in response to the market competition. Model duration usually has to reduce as the number of competitors increases.

Ford & DC have good models now, Toyota and Nissan are surprisingly getting some share now...where's GM's response....2006/2007...WILL BE TOO LATE :angry:
 

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Originally posted by leadfoot85@Jun 9 2004, 10:32 AM
I hope GM can hit another home run in the truck segment...but 2006 does seem too late in response to the market competition. Model duration usually has to reduce as the number of competitors increases.

Ford & DC have good models now, Toyota and Nissan are surprisingly getting some share now...where's GM's response....2006/2007...WILL BE TOO LATE :angry:
I would think that if the competion heats up much more, then they will rethink and redesign the truck line sooner... ;)
 

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Originally posted by leadfoot85@Jun 9 2004, 04:32 PM
I hope GM can hit another home run in the truck segment...but 2006 does seem too late in response to the market competition. Model duration usually has to reduce as the number of competitors increases.

Ford & DC have good models now, Toyota and Nissan are surprisingly getting some share now...where's GM's response....2006/2007...WILL BE TOO LATE :angry:
Model duration IS decreasing. Previous generation GMT400 trucks ran for 12 years. The generation before that ran for 15 years. Ford ran one generation of trucks from 1980 - 1996. Dodge from 1972 (I think) to 1993.

But I don't see full line pickup manufacturers going less than 6 or 7 years. It's simply too expensive and they won't get their money back. It's not like a car with a coupe and sedan version built in one plant. It's 3 cabs sizes, 3 bed lengths, close to 10 wheelbases, a half dozen engines and 5 transmissions, and 5 assembly plants. Maybe Toyota and Nissan, with their extremely limited model range could do it sooner (Toyota is due in 2006, I believe, after only 6 years), but even Toyota has talked about possibly branching into heavier trucks eventually. Right now all they and Nissan cover is the sweet-spot personal use market.

Did the boys on BlueOvalNews do all this handwringing from 1999 till 2004 when the GMT800's were newer?
 
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