GM’s big SUVs harken back to an era of conspicuous consumption, when $2-a gallon gas and a lingering nostalgia of 15-foot-long American cars flooded the industry. But if the Volt is any indicator, the era of big, cheap Suburbans and Tahoes might finally come to an end with next generation trucks.
To meet new fuel economy regulations, General Motors will add a price premium to its line of full-size SUVs. Currently, the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe get a combined average of 17-mpg. But new CAFE regulations will force GM to reach a company-wide average of 35.5-mpg by 2016, and there’s no time to waste.
As a result, GM’s next generation of full-size SUVs “will be more expensive to engineer and build because of the need for lighter weight materials,” said Tracy Handler, an analyst at IHS Automotive. “I expect prices to be higher.”
Sales of full-size SUVs have sunk like, well, a full-size SUV into a lake. From a high of over 1 million units in 2003 and 2004, sales of the Suburban, Escalade, Toyota Sequoia, Lincoln Navigator, and others dropped to 372,437 vehicles. There have been prior doubts to whether this would be the last time these squirrel crushing, deer smacking, driving machines would live to see next year, but GM is still committed to introducing them in 2013 as 2014 models: it is investing over $300 million in its Arlington, Texas plant for the next Suburban, Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.
“We have customers who need full-sized SUVs for work and play,” Chevrolet spokesman Mike Albano said. “We will continue to provide a vehicle in that segment.”
[Source: Automotive News]