Super Chief concept is a very nice exercise in super-premium trim
levels. Ford is selling every King Ranch and Harley-Davidson it makes.
Given this premium market, how do you see Sierra Denali stacking up, considering
Ford appears to emphasize unique interiors and Denali’s strong point
is the powertrain?
Yes and no. Sierra Denali sales are up about 140 percent. We’re
seeing that people want a more luxurious version, and we have more things
in store to grow our Sierra Denali lineup.
Does that include a more distinct interior package, more distinct than
an SLT package?
Well, it is today. We have a tone-on-tone leather, different instrument
panel and different console. Along with the powertrain you also have exterior
amenities such as tonneau and body-colored moldings that give you a more
European look. So I think it’s on target with the competition.
One of the selling points for the Denali was the LQ9 engine. Now that
it’s available as the VortecMax option in other parts of the Sierra
line, will that diminish the Denali appeal?
No, because it’s the cache of the brand itself. The brand equity
in Denali, people are still very drawn to it. But it makes good business
sense to spread the 6.0-liter out. I’ll give you a little hint.
You’re going to see a little more exclusivity to Sierra Denali in
next generation, and I’ll leave it at that.
On the other side of the market, talking about the working man. What happened
to the Pro
We took elements of the Pro Plus like the underseat storage that’s
now a very successful accessory from SPO. I don’t think the market
was willing to pay for the functionality of the vehicle, and you have
to weigh that.
Can you give some examples of what you’re doing for the working
For 2007, we’re going to allow—and this is a GMC exclusive—the
customer to order power door locks and power windows retail (on SL and
Work Truck trim levels). Chevy won’t do it, and that’s another
cue for Professional Grade. So for a less expensive price, we’re
going to get you in the vehicle but still give you amenities. Also, GMC
has the fold-down armrest, Chevy doesn’t.
Will Quadrasteer make a comeback?
(long pause) We had a highly maneuverable truck to begin with. We added
on even greater maneuverability with Quadrasteer. The customers just felt
what they had was sufficient and didn’t want to pay the first price
point ($7,500 total package) or reduced price points ($4,495 then $1,995).
So maybe we’re a victim of our own ability to provide a maneuverable
pickup, even without Quadrasteer. It’s great technology, no one
denies that. But maybe one of our competitors that’s not as maneuverable
than us will have better luck.
It appears neither Chevy or GMC will make a big show announcement this
year with the GMT 900 pickup. It seems like it will roll out organically.
I’m wondering, are you nervous about introducing a completely new
pickup when the current one is doing so well?
What we have in store is fabulous and wonderful. There’s nothing
to be threatened by, only awed by. Being quiet doesn’t mean you
lack confidence. Sometimes subtle can be away of boasting. Sometimes you
don’t have to boast about what you got coming. Sometimes simplicity
We’ve the seen the Yukon 900. Given that the differences and similarities
between the pickups and SUVs in the past have been fairly predictable.
I guess it’s possible to determine what powertrains and features
the pickups are going to have based on what’s been shown. Or do
you have some major surprises in line for the pickup? Are you going to
break away from those traditional differences and similarities between
the SUVs and pickups in the GMT 400, 800 and now 900 platforms?
You are going to see a higher level of differentiation between the ute
and pickup than you’ve ever seen. And higher levels of differentiation
between Chevy and GMC. And I got to leave it at that.
From a critical standpoint all pickups have shortcomings, and when the
next generation comes out the manufacturers makes a concerted effort to
correct those shortcomings. So what priorities did you have for the 900
I can’t really go there because that’ll give a couple of my
cards away. But when you talk about focus for improvement, you don’t
have to look much past the SUVs to understand that safety was important,
fuel efficiency was important, looking bigger and riding smaller was important.
A lot of this is going to transfer over to the pickup but in its own unique
way. They won’t be the same features.