GMC Execs Pushing for Subcompact Crossover
VP Aldred Sees Value in Jeep Renegade Rival
GMC may be getting a small crossover in the near future, at least if Buick/GMC Vice President Duncan Aldred has his way. In a report by Automotive News, Aldred is quoted as saying that he wants GM’s dedicated truck brand to make its presence known in the subcompact SUV segment.
In 2010, GMC dropped hints that it might bring the “Professional Grade” brand lower in the market when it revealed the Granite concept. At that time, it was envisaged as a rival to the then-popular Scion xB, meaning the Granite would have been an on-road–oriented hatch rather than a crossover SUV. However, since then, market tastes have shifted away from the styled-hatchback segment toward subcompact crossovers, a la Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke, and Chevrolet Trax.
As chief of Buick and GMC, Aldred knows the value of the segment. Buick was one of the first to market a subcompact SUV, and demand for its Encore SUV has consistently beaten sales projections, even after nearly three years on the market. Indeed, a GMC subcompact crossover would likely take its bones from the Buick Encore, whose structure is also shared with the Chevrolet Trax and European-market Opel/Vauxhall Mokka.
However, we hope the GMC subcompact crossover (which is as yet unconfirmed) takes a more upmarket approach than either the Chevy or the Buick. While those crossovers feature a composed, quiet ride and respectable interior materials, for the platform to be suitably “professional grade,” it will need a sizable infusion of power and richer, more mature design. While we like the Trax and Encore, GMC customers will expect bolder, boxier styling than either of those SUVs can muster. Some dedicated off-road capability would also help the GMC stand apart from its siblings and give the Jeep Renegade some proper competition.
Potential pitfalls? The traditional-SUV market is growing more and more jaded with the proliferation of crossovers, and GMC might alienate some of its customers with yet another entry into the segment. Additionally, since GMC and Buick frequently share a dealer network, the Encore could cannibalize the GMC’s sales. Then again, both brands successfully market their respective fullsize crossovers, so maybe sibling rivalry wouldn’t be a problem.
Were we gamblers, we’d bet a decent chunk of money that GMC would announce a compact crossover soon, perhaps at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month. Time will tell.
Source: Automotive News