Tag Archives: GMC

2009 GMC Yukon Denali

2009 GMC Yukon Denali

The GMC Yukon Denali combines blue-collar toughness with just a hint of bling in the full-size SUV equivalent of a top-tier offensive lineman. The Bose 10-speaker sound system and 20-inch chrome wheels are good, but the Yukon Denali’s most practical tailgating talent is its sheer size.

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2010 GMC Acadia

2010 GMC Acadia
An available power liftgate, rear-seat DVD entertainment and a 115-volt outlet are convenient features when it comes to tailgating, but the GMC Acadia’s cargo-area audio controls are particularly awesome. You can switch between tunes and game coverage without having to step away from the grill.

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New Astra to Become a Buick? Managing Brand Isn’t Getting Any Easier

DETROIT – Our European correspondent, Paul Horrell calls the 2010 Opel Astra “one of the best compact hatches the world has to offer.” His story asks; will it come here? The answer is “yes,” in a way. Buick’s 2012 Cruze-based compact (on the Delta platform), designed to anchor the lower end of its New GM lineup, will wear the sheetmetal of the notchback sedan version of the Astra, a source close to matter tells me. I don’t know what it will be called. We haven’t seen the conventional sedan version of the new Astra yet. We can guess it will be very similar to the hatchback, retaining its “sweeping” look, with the sculpted blade in the bodyside and the strong shoulders.The new Astra hatchback’s wheelbase is three inches longer than the old Astra’s, and it’s 174 inches overall, though the version with the trunk may be closer to the Cruze’s 181-inch overall length. The old Opel/Vauxhall Astra hatchback served as the Saturn Astra, a model that sold so poorly here that Saturn didn’t import any for the 2009 model year. While Saturn was designated as GM’s import-fighter, and thus was briefly the portal for Opel designs, that brand now is headed for Penske Automotive. Anyway, GM recognized that the Opel Insignia’s design and the premium level of its interior better fit its intended direction for Buick. GM wants to return both Opel and Buick to their old positions as sub-luxury premium brands. It’s similar, but not the same as Ford Motor Company’s Mercury division, which is about to transform from badge-engineered Fords to European models. Does the new Opel Astra fit? Horrell reports the car “derives much of its upscale feel and design from the Insignia.” I don’t know whether the Buick version will get the Astra’s suspension upgrades over the Chevrolet Cruze, but it should. The Opel’s front suspension has supplementary rebound springs to take the load off the front anti-roll bar, and reduce understeer, and a Watts linkage supplements the torsion beam rear axle for better axle articulation than from a cheaper Panhard rod. “This design allows the bushings that take the lateral loads to be separated from those that take the longitudinal,” Horrell explains. “The former are stiff — for handling finesse — while the latter are soft for ride comfort.”Opels are tuned typically for European roads, which means the new Astra’s suspension may prove too stiff for a traditional Buick ride. We’ll have to wait and see whether GM engineers will even try to get the right compromise from this setup. If GM is serious about revitalizing the core differences between Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models, though, it had better figure out a way to make the Buick compact different from the Chevy Cruze beneath the skin.I’m not quite as confident about GM’s announcement at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan, that Buick will have an also-unnamed 2012 plug-in hybrid model in showrooms in ’11. The compact crossover, which makes its debut next year as an ’11 model with conventional engines, is the current Saturn Vue with some new sheetmetal. GM engineers were hard at work to introduce the plug-in hybrid powertrain for that model when the company gave up on the brand. The gas engines will be the direct-injection 2.4-liter four and 3.0-liter V-6 now proliferating through GM’s small and midsize lineup, and the plug-in hybrid will feature LG Chem lithium ion batteries and the 3.6-liter gas direct-injection V-6.I have no argument against Buick getting a plug-in hybrid. In fact, it probably can better absorb the system’s cost with a higher price than GM could charge for a Chevy or GMC model. The problem is that the rest of GM has moved on, with the 2010 Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain (replacing the Pontiac Torrent) reviewed as being far superior to their predecessors. The Saturn Vue/new Buick is another version of those predecessors. These days, though, GM can’t afford to throw away any well-developed technology. Technologies being developed for eight brands must find their way into the surviving four. And the plug-in Vue was well on its way. Perhaps the Buick crossover should be sold as plug-in only. This Buick will share showrooms with the dynamically superior (though design-challenged) GMC Terrain. And with Buick’s own Enclave. That large crossover re-established the Buick brand as a legitimate premium nameplate. Let’s hope the new smaller crossover and the Astra-based compact don’t damage the progress the Enclave has made.
Source : blogs.motortrend.com/6540547/car-news/new-astra-to-become-a-buick-managing-brand-isnt-getting-any-easier/index.html

July Sales: Cash for Clunkers Spurs FoMoCo; Toyota Regains Second-Place

DETROIT – Ford Motor Company is ebullient about its first year-over-year sales increase since November 2007. Total Ford-Lincoln-Mercury sales, including fleet, rose 2 percent in July 2009 compared with July 2008, and of that, retail sales rose 9 percent. Still, it’s too early to party. The Great Recession isn’t over yet.”Right now, the legs under the economy are not strong enough to sustain a 14-16 million sales rate as we saw at the end of July,” says Ford analyst George Pipas. “A sales increase in July is not the end of the journey.”Aside from the minor increase compared with a very weak July ’08, when gasoline averaged $4.11 per gallon, Ford proved through individual model sales that the Cash for Clunkers program helped move fuel-efficient metal. Probably not coincidentally, the low-priced cars and trucks that consumers who until now were driving clunkers could afford to buy moved the most. Ford Focus sales surpassed Fusion sales, although both models were up compared with last year. Even though a four-cylinder Fusion is within a couple mpg city/highway, the smaller, cheaper Focus easily outsold the Fusion, 21,830 (up 43.6 percent) to 17,610 (up 66 percent).The redesigned-for-2009 Focus became Ford’s darling when gas topped $4 per gallon. Earlier this year, the facelifted 2010 Fusion was Ford’s savior in some of the slowest sales months in decades. Advertising dollars targeting new models helps.If Cash for Clunkers money drew a lot of prospective buyers to Ford lots in the last week, I’ve got to bet that some of those consumers trading in ’90s Explorers chose, say an $18,000-list Focus over a $23,000-list Fusion because it better met their budgets. Many of those clunkers undoubtedly were third or even fourth cars, driven by the high schoolers in the family. Estimates of how much oil the program saves may be a bit of a stretch.No matter. The program is a success for bringing consumers back into the market — either those who have been holding off or those who figured credit had dried up so much, it wasn’t worth it to walk into a showroom. General Motors estimates July sales for all makers totaled an annual rate that would equal about 11.3-million vehicles, marking the first month in 2009 above the 10-million level.And GM has just announced a lease program with U.S. Bank for Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs (its core four in North America) for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan and Ohio through August 31. U.S. Bank leases for the new Cadillac SRX are available nationwide.Meanwhile, Chrysler says that The Wall Street Journal got it wrong Monday morning. Chrysler will continue to offer matching incentives of up to $4500 on certain models whether you bring in a clunker or not. Obviously, if your local dealer is out of, say, 2009 PT Cruisers, you’re not going to get $4500 off a 2010 model. And so, to the numbers:GM: 189,443, off 19.4 percent.Inventory of about 466,000 is the lowest on record, says sales veep Mark LaNeve.With inventories dropping for all automakers, the deals aren’t likely to get any more desperate.Chevy division sales were relatively strong, at 124,948, still down 9.3 percent.Equinox was a rare gainer, up 77.8 percent to 10,834. About 60 percent were ’10 models, and most of those were four-bangers.Buick Enclave remains strong, selling 3,797, off 2.5 percent.Cadillac, at 6,171, off 52.6 percent, was the biggest loser of the core four.Saab was off 71.7 percent to 574 and Hummer was off 57.4 percent to 799.Impala was up 9.6 percent to 14,649 but Malibu was off 7.8 percent to 15,339.Modern wagon wars continues: Toyota sold 9,407 Highlanders, (+39.1 percent), Chevy sold 6,690 Traverses, Honda sold 6,430 Pilots (-15.3 percent), Dodge sold 4,165 Journeys (+21 percent) and Ford sold 3,631 Flexes (+64.7 percent).The new Camaro continues to be in short supply. Chevy sold 7,113, vs. 6,686 Ford Mustangs (-37.6 percent) and 886 Dodge Challengers (-69 percent).GM will build some 2010 G6s for fleet customers, LaNeve said, making it the last Pontiac.The New GM of Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac, sold 160,078 vehicles, a couple thousand more than Ford/Lincoln/Mercury but short of Toyota.Toyota-Scion-Lexus: 174,872, off 11.4 percent.Toyota division accounted for 156,355 (including Scions), off 10.8 percent, making Toyota the U.S.’ best-selling brand.Lexus fell 16.5 percent to 18,517.Prius jumped 29.7 percent to 19,173. Camry sales fell 19.4 percent to a still-strong 33,974.RAV4 may have benefited from the clunkers credit, up 32.5 percent to 15,912.Midsize pickups also are doing well. Tacoma was up 7.6 percent to 12,552.Monthly Scion numbers: 6,754, vs. 11,906 in July ’08.Ford-Lincoln-Mercury: 158,838, up 2 percent.Focus was Ford’s best-selling car, up 43.6 percent to 21,830.Fusion was up 66 percent to 17,610.F-150 remains Ford’s best-selling vehicle, off 19 percent to 36,327.Escape was up 94.2 percent to 20,241.Ranger was up 64.5 percent to 7,695. Looks like another Cash for Clunkers winner.Taurus was off 57.1 percent to 1,760 as Ford ramped down the old model.Mercury Milan was up 59.8 percent to 2,934 while Mariner was up 70.5 percent to 3,682 as the Lincoln side of the showroom suffered a 24.3 percent drop.Inventory of 295,000 vehicles, averaging less than a 50-day supply, is 41 percent thinner than at the end of July ’08.Honda-Acura: 114,690, off 17.3 percent.That’s 106,028 Hondas, off 15.8 percent, and 8,662 Acuras, off 32.5 percent.Civic was up 3.1 percent to 30,037.Accord was off 28.1 percent to 29,774.Fit was off 27.6 percent to 8,876 but CR-V was up 9.9 percent to 19,151.Acura RDX was off 62.5 percent to 519 and TSX was off 35.8 percent to 2,232.Chrysler LLC: 88,900, off 9 percent.Winners were small models, helped by heavy incentives. Chrysler PT Cruiser was up 24 percent to 4,092 sold.Jeep Patriot was up 134 percent to 8,084 and Compass was up 95 percent.Jeep Wrangler, which posted increases for the first five months of the year, was down for the second month in a row, off 25 percent to 4,540.Dodge Caliber was up 63 percent to 7,814.Avenger was up 30 percent to 5,616.Sebring was off 27 percent to 2,781. Chrysler has sold 13,466 for the entire year so far, well below Ford Fusion’s monthly sales.Chrysler Town & Country fell 15 percent to 6,837. Dodge Caravan was up 15 percent to 8,405, however.Ram was off 17 percent to 17,723.Nissan-Infiniti: 71,847, off 24.6 percent.Nissan division was off 24.8 percent to 64,751.Infiniti was off 23.3 percent to 7,096.Nissan Versa was off just 2 percent to 8,530, though Sentra fell 13.5 percent to 9,496.Rogue sales were up 3.8 percent to 6,770.Z was up 11.9 percent to 890. Inexplicably, Infiniti QX56 was up 0.4 percent to 553.Nissan GT-R was off by 19 units to 128.OTHERS …Hyundai says 22 percent of its trade-ins were “clunkers.” Sales rose 12 percent, to 45,553. Accent, Sonata, Elantra and Genesis all posted gains and Santa Fe was down very slightly.Kia sold 29,345 units, up 1,324 units from last July. Subaru was up an impressive 34 percent, to 21,839. Mazda sold 19,032, off 15.1 percent.BMW Group, including Mini, was off 26.7 percent, to 21,253. BMW brand sold 16,381, off 31.5 percent. Mini was off 3.8 percent, to 4,872. Only all-ne
w models gained sales last month; BMW Z4 (up 33.8-percent) and 7 Series (up 14.5 percent), and Mini Cooper convertible (up 45.1 percent).Cash for Clunkers helped Volkswagen, which was up 0.7 percent, to 20,590 while Audi says it outperformed the premium segment, dropping just 5.8 percent, to 6,407. The clunkers program does not help with new cars north of $45,000.Mercedes-Benz USA, sold 17,646, including 16,228 Mercedes (off 21.7 percent) and 1,418 smarts, off 44.6 percent.Jaguar Land Rover fell 25 percent, to 2,607. Jaguar was down 45 percent, to 785 cars and Land Rover was down 11 percent, to 1,822.
Source : blogs.motortrend.com/6564996/car-news/july-sales-cash-for-clunkers-spurs-fomoco-toyota-regains-second-place/index.html

The Product GM Needs If it Survives Bankruptcy

DETROIT – I was encouraged to hear General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson evoke Alfred P. Sloan Monday afternoon, hours after his company filed for bankruptcy. Forget what some news outlets say about the unprecedented Chapter 11; GM has been on the precipice before, in 1910, the early ’20s and thanks to Roger Smith, in 1992. Henderson said he would take inspiration from Sloan during the Chapter 11 reorganization he expects to be completed in 60 to 90 days. “I ask myself, well, what would he do if he was in my shoes? Well, he never was, but early in his career he did have a crisis. What he did was he did his job.”

And his job was to move lots of product. Sloan was promoted to president of GM in 1923, the year he developed the “price ladder” of the five brands the company had that year. He also developed annual styling changes, or “planned obsolescence.” Sloan built an auto company that was the antithesis of chief rival Henry Ford’s ideas about the industry. After Sloan went overboard in the late ’20s, slicing and dicing the collection of automakers that GM assembled into 10 brands and sub-brands, he cut back to six during the Great Depression and handily outsold Fords and Lincolns.

Henderson has four North American brands; Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac, and fortunately, Opel/Vauxhall in Europe to help retain GM’s global reach. He said Monday that even left with a minority stake in the company, Opels (and Vauxhalls) will continue to share platforms and drivetrains with North American models, with some room for “regional” variations. Global “rationalization” means that an Epsilon-based Opel could be built in a Chevy-Buick factory, and vice versa.

GM didn’t “rationalize” in time for the Saturn Astra, which was built in Belgium. Beside its odd European switchgear, the Astra suffered lack of profit margin. It was built for euros and sold in Saturn dealerships for about $18,000 to $22,000 at a very unfavorable exchange rate. Saturn isn’t a problem, any more. So what to do with the four surviving North American divisions? My colleagues have been agonizing over the end of Pontiac, but that brand was too easy to cut, if just to avoid funding a next-generation G6. In the ’50s through ’70s, GM could afford to launch all the cars on one bodysize — say Chevy Chevelle/Pontiac LeMans/Olds Cutlass/Buick Skylark — in the same model year. Now it staggers, for example, Epsilon-based cars at different times, so you always had Chevy Malibu, Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura, etc. on different cycles, on different versions of the platform. That probably won’t change, but GM won’t have to cycle in G6, Aura and Saab 9-3 into the Epsilon platform any more.

Under Sloan, Pontiac was “Chevrolet-plus,” A-body cars with optional eight-cylinder engines you couldn’t get in the Chevys. Chevy and Pontiac finally got V-8s in ’55, and for 1959, Pontiac became the Wide-Track division. It made the easy transition into Grand Prixs, GTOs and Firebirds in the ’60s. But by the mid-’70s, it had nothing you couldn’t buy as a Chevy SS, until Bob Lutz tried to revive the “excitement division” with the GTO, Solstice and G8.

Buick was the mid-priced brand to keep, because of its success in China. Maybe the fact that Henderson’s first car was a ’69 Buick Skylark helped, and I’d bet that at least one old timer still shuffling around the Renaissance Center argued that William C. Durant founded GM on the back of Buick in late 1908.

Buick doesn’t need entry-level models priced just a few bucks more than similar Chevys, and the 2010 LaCrosse, starting at nearly $28,000 is a good second step after the Enclave. A 2012 Cruze-based Buick compact should start somewhere around $23- to $24k in current dollars, and the division needs a Chrysler 300 killer to replace the slightly-better-than-mediocre Lucerne.

Many of you will argue that GMC should offer something different or go away. That makes car-guy sense, not business sense. Buick dealers need GMC just like Lincoln dealers need Mercury. GMC and Mercury provide volume and even though they’re just badge-engineered, provide easy profits at minimal additional costs over Chevy trucks or Ford cars.

Cadillac needs more World Class luxury models like the CTS. Henderson understands that it takes two lifecycles of a good model to change the perception of a brand in a market like Western Europe, so you can’t count the first CTS. If the MKIII CTS is an improvement even on the MKII CTS, it will be the mid- to late-teens before Cadillac can become the Standard of the World, again. But it’s a worthwhile and achievable goal, even for a bankrupt automaker.

That leaves Chevrolet, the most important of GM’s brands and the one that needs the most work. Low-volume ’11 Volt aside, Malibu is a worthy Camry/Accord competitor, the Traverse is selling fairly well and the ’10 Equinox looks promising. But the Impala is old, and a Zeta-based replacement is off the table and the C7 Corvette has been put on hold. On the truck side, Chevy needs a low-volume Suburban in the future, but probably doesn’t need a Tahoe, too.

I’ve had high hopes for the 2011 Cruze (except for the name) to take advantage of showroom traffic raised by the Volt. Paul Horrell’s and Angus MacKenzie’s reviews have deflated those hopes. Perhaps the 1.4-liter turbo slated for North America will help. After Corvair, Vega, Citation, Cavalier and Cobalt, Chevy needs to somehow get its act together on small cars.

I blame Roger Smith. Why not? He’s responsible for GM’s problems from the ’80s right up to Monday’s bankruptcy. If he had sunk the money he spent on Saturn into a proper Chevy small car program instead, GM might have a real Civic competitor today.

And under Smith, GM went from a mostly rear-drive to mostly front-drive automaker in one quick, ugly decade. Even with the 2012-16 CAFE standards, it needed better balance; front-drive for small and midsize cars and rear-drive for big and premium cars. Besides various-sized premium RWD for future Cadillacs, it needs an affordable small rear-drive platform for a next-generation Camaro to compete with the Hyundai Genesis coupe. And it needs a lighter next-generation rear-drive platform for Chevys, Buicks and maybe Opels.

GM can’t spend money on any new platforms right now. It can’t afford delaying them, either. Put it off for too long and another recession comes along, delaying everything ad infinitum. The product gets old and looks bad next to the competition, and then GM has to spend more marketing cash to prop up the product and tread water. Product is what Alfred Sloan knew well … marketing is what Roger Smith thought he knew.

Source : blogs.motortrend.com/6548966/editorial/the-product-gm-needs-if-it-survives-bankruptcy/index.html