Of all the many struggles at struggling General Motors, nothing is more controversial in my mind than the second sales channel made up of two of its four core brands, GMC and Buick. This channel of essentially badge-engineered offerings, now stripped of Pontiac, is supposed to support a dealer organization. We shall see.
Of Buick and GMC, the healthiest here is, arguably, GMC, which is off 40% in sales so far this year. What GMC represents is clearer – trucks - than Buick’s non-image. In order to pay its way under the new money-making philosophy imposed at GM by its bankruptcy proceedings, GMC needs to prove it can move successfully into entirely new segments, with entries such as the Acadia and The Terrain. Here, the strong truck image works against it. So it is by no means certain that GMC can expand.
One of the first entries that needs to be successful is the 2010 Terrain, which has just been partially priced. As a so-called cross-over, I’ll skip the debate as to whether it is really just a truck by another name, and whether this helps or hurts GMC. Let the market decide. It is hardly a break through offering whatever it is.
The Terrain shares the same platform and most of its underpinnings with the current Chevrolet Equinox. And it would have had a sibling SUV offering in Pontiac showrooms, the next-generation Torrent, if GM didn’t, first, eliminate all trucks from the Pontiac line-up as part of its ongoing corporate restructuring, then, kill Pontiac off entirely. Taken to its logical conclusion, or at least my logical conclusion, GMC ultimately gets in the way of global efficiencies at Chevrolet, though the company vehemently denies this. GMC is GM’s second best-selling brand in the United States, with more than 376,000 trucks sold in 2008.