Low-profile GMC leads the way for General Motors

Article by Christian A., on May 23, 2014

GMC might be the lowest profile brand in General Motors’ portfolio, but so far it is the healthiest among the carmaker’s marques. Despite having a marketing budget that is just a fraction of that of Chevrolet, GMC has managed to outpace GM’s bread-and-butter brand.

GMC has overturned the perception that it is just a collection of rebadged Chevrolets and has managed to create an image as a premium truck brand. In fact, its lineup has posted the biggest surge in in transaction prices of any GM brand. Its high-end Denali trim level has gained a loyal following among affluent, do-it-yourself customers and even outsold Lincoln, Jaguar and Land Rover.

Its redesigned 2015 Yukon XL Denali has been a hot-seller among customers who do not mind its $70,000 price. Because of that image, Kelley Blue Book named GMC in April as the "most refined" brand among non-luxury marques.

GMC created a clear brand identity via its "Professional Grade" marketing campaign that has been in place since 1998. On the other hand, its sister brands have been changing their marketing themes. Roger McCormack, GMC marketing director, remarked that they consider GMC as “a niche brand for a very specific consumer mindset."

He, however, noted that GMC is a “450,000-unit niche of profitable truck business." GMC has been known to improving GM's bottom line by selling higher-priced trucks built underpinned by the same platforms as Chevrolets.

John Wolkonowicz, an independent analyst and automotive historian, told Automotive News that until 1970s, GMC’s higher prices were warranted by better powertrains and features not available in Chevrolet models. He remarked that the distinction became fuzzy from 1970s when GMC became a way for GM's non-Chevrolet dealers to sell trucks.

The all-new 2015 GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and Yukon Denali models are now being introduced with higher levels of power, capability and refinement as well as with a quieter interior and new fold-flat rear seats. The Yukon lineup for the 2015 model year is expected to offer the best V8 fuel economy in the segment, as made possible by a new family of advanced EcoTec3 engines.

The higher capability level of the Yukon is complemented by bold styling and advanced safety and security technologies, while its charming appeal is backed by a wide array of standard features and improved infotainment options. GMC boasts of having one of the most-popular full-size SUV lineups in the auto industry, as supported by the fact that the brand sold 24 percent more Yukon, Yukon XL and Denali in the first eight months of 2013.

Tony DiSalle, vice president of GMC Marketing, quipped that the Yukon and Yukon XL were engineered from the ground up. These 2015 models build on the nameplate’s strong legacy of capability to once lead the segment with purposeful technology and superior refinement. He noted that many people depend on full-size SUVs for accomplishing their tasks, and with the Yukon, they are doing it with more style.

Interestingly, the Yukon and Yukon XL have the same design, architectural elements and powertrain lineup. However, the Yukon XL is around 20 inches longer, with a wheelbase that has been extended by 14 inches. This allows the Yukon XL to offer more legroom for third-row passengers as well as twice the cargo space behind the third-row seat compared to the Yukon.

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