Third Time the Charm for GMC's Terra4?
We last got
a peek at GMC's Terra4
concept when we were shown a full size foam mockup in Pebble Beach
this past fall. It was also an opportunity to have an in-depth
chat with the Terra4's designer, Carl Zipfel, who pointed out many
of its innovative and evolutionary design features.
the critically well-received line of "Terra" concepts, including
the Terradyne pickup and Terracross
SUV, the Terra4 is already impacting future GMC trucks. The freshened
2003 Sierra wears many of the Terra series exterior design cues. And in
the coming years many of the Terra4's functional and powertrain features
will also find their way into GMC trucks, if not the Terra4 itself as
a production vehicle.
in the middle between Terradyne and Terracross, Terra4 is the ideal GMC
strives to achieve when it talks about their trucks being "Professional
Grade". A vehicle that can perform to an extreme degree yet still
be comfortable, even luxurious, at its core. GMC often compares this ideal
to products like Viking stoves and TAG Heuer watches.
outright speculation, production becomes a definite possibility when you
consider the following four factors.
is in an aggressive effort to differentiate itself from sibling Chevrolet
and its Silverado pickup. Exclusives like Quadrasteer on the 2002 Sierra
Denali and the 2003 mid-cycle enhancements help, but GMC is going to need
to make a much bigger break in styling if it expects to truly stand on
its own. The Terra4 delivers big time on the promise of an identity uniquely,
and distinctively, GMC.
golden age of Big Three exclusivity in full size trucks is nearing an
end. High quality, fresh new competition from the likes of Toyota, Nissan
and Honda means there will be more trucks pursuing the same pool of buyers.
New buyers added to the pool are likely to come from those who currently
own import cars and trucks and want to move into something larger. If
you aren't fresh you are going to lose market share - rapidly. The Terra4
is definitely a fresh new look and GM is working hard to constantly improve
quality, using Toyota as its benchmark.
to the imports, GM Chief Designer Wayne Cherry says "the Big Three
still set the rules of the game when it comes to trucks and SUVs."
He mentions new designs like the Hummer H2 as evidence that GM is ready
and willing to innovate to capture new and hold existing market share.
to note, the Terradyne concept had a very large impact on Nissan's upcoming
full size truck program, clearly seen in the Alpha
Concept Nissan debuted last year in Detroit.
this year's North American International Auto Show, "Segment Buster"
was the buzzword on everyones tongue. A vehicle that blurs the boundary
between two distinct automotive niches, like an SUV and pickup. All the
automakers seem to think this is what buyers are going to move into in
the coming years. Again the Terra4 delivers. The cab provides room for
up to 5 passengers, taking center stage over the small but functional
bed accessible via four different ways on the truck.
to designer Zipfel, "the Terra4 is closer to being a production vehicle
than either Terradyne or Terracross...we could do this today. It's [the
Terra4] really tailored to what's in place with today's trucks and plants."
the Avalanche and SSR quickly move to production it would not be far fetched
to see the Terra4 get the greenlight, especially considering how close
the Terracross SUV came to becoming reality before it was tabled.
So, is the
third time the charm for the Terra4? Will this GMC concept reach production?
Ultimately that decision rests in the hands of consumers attending the
autoshows and a strong hunch at GM that the Terra4 is a new approach to
profitably expanding its share of the full size truck market.