Riding an increase in sales thanks to crossovers and SUVs, General Motors is aiming to increase the differences between Chevrolet and GMC products. Those differences currently range from sheetmetal and gadgets on some vehicles to badges and bolt-ons like lights and wheels on others. At press time, base prices on 2011 models were identical on some trucks and less than 2 percent apart on others.
Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, believes the dual-brand concept could do better, especially since the other manufacturers all have just one truck brand. He plans on using the Denali name to help take GMC to a higher level -- in content, price, and sales -- back to when GMC had a higher price than a Chevy because it offered more.
Where GMC's tagline "professional grade" comes in is not so clear. If GM wants to build fancy Chevrolets on the level of Denali, the only place for Denali to go is into Cadillac territory, and with some pickups costing more than Cadillac's most expensive sedan already, that's a big undertaking.
Around here, the professionals who drive GMC products are usually in SUVs and don't use their vehicle for any trade. The skilled trades rarely opt for a leather-lined cabin to dirty on a daily basis. Chevrolet has proven it can build better, more feature-laden small cars and people will pay; we're not so sure the same can be said for working vehicles.