No Fear: GM's Trucks Will Survive

March 11, 2009
2009 Chevrolet Avalanche

2009 Chevrolet Avalanche

The big news from General Motors this year hasn't been its great new trucks and cars. It's been a constant drumbeat of dire news, down to the "substantial doubts" about its ability to stay out of bankruptcy.

There's no need to fear, though. As long as there is a General Motors, there will be Chevy trucks.

Unfortunately for GM, there won't be much from Saturn, Pontiac, HUMMER and Saab. A few weeks ago, GM announced it would cast off Saturn by 2012 and would trim Pontiac to a few “niche” vehicles sold through Buick/GMC dealerships.  This is on top of decisions which the public has known about for months: to sell or shutter HUMMER, and to off-load Saab to whomever might want to buy it.

Saturn might live on as its own company, with manufacturing licensed out to another automaker.  An Indian or Chinese manufacturer eager to enter the U.S. market in one form or another might find Saturn the perfect foot in the door. Meanwhile, Pontiac will lose most of its models--probably the ones that actually sell in volume, like the G6--and will offer a stable consisting of small cars like the 2009 Pontiac Vibe and the 2009 Pontiac G3. Say goodbye to hotness like the G8; GM won't bother importing it from Australia since its powerful, gas-guzzling performance is the opposite of the image GM needs to portray (never mind how sales are about 1/100th of expectations).

Regardless of the plight at Saturn and Pontiac, Chevy trucks still bring home the bacon.  No matter how the Feds try to cut into civilian sales of the Silverado, Chevy will still be the best place for you to find a work truck that meets all kinds of hauling needs--and the American economy can't get by without trucks that do this kind of work. And for those civilians who need a bed, I'd gamble on a smaller, more economical Colorado.

You might wonder about GMC. GM says it will be one of the core brands. And for good reason--GMC does a lot of the company's commercial-truck business and in the best of years, it turned in nearly $1 billion in profit. I’m a fan of GMC trucks and quite honestly, I’ve always seen the positives to selling the same car in two or three different skins.  It’s cheap to do and allows customers some leeway in looks and dealer networks. That's still going to work for Chevrolet and GMC, even in a 35-mpg world.

Frankly, I can’t imagine bow-tie pickups going away--ever. The powertrains may change and the size may shrink, but as long as there's a General Motors, there's a reason to keep building trucks.

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