GMC’s Future Could Include a Jeep Wrangler Fighter

Small body-on-frame SUV could help GM’s truck division expand its reach.

byWill Sabel Courtney| PUBLISHED Jul 19, 2016 6:49 PM
GMC’s Future Could Include a Jeep Wrangler Fighter

Long stuck in the shadow of better-known General Motors brands, GMC may dive into battle with Jeep with an old-school, body-on-frame SUV that could butt heads with the Wrangler, according to a new report. 

Citing industry sources, Automotive News says GMC is developing plans for a smaller body-on-frame SUV based on the chassis shared by the GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado, with a production date of 2020 or later. With the industry largely transitioning over to unibody platforms for mainstream sport-utes, a brand-new old-school SUV of that size would seem to be a cannonade aimed straight at Jeep's ever-popular Wrangler. (It would also be a handy competitor against the long-rumored return of the Ford Bronco, also expected around the end of the decade.)

GMC bossman Duncan Aldred told AN that Jeep could indeed be prime prey for his brand. "I do think GMC has got the brand equity and brand character in many respects to give customers a really good alternative to Jeep products," he said in an interview last week.

A standalone Jeep competitor would mark GMC's first vehicle in years that was not a rebadged or up-contented version of another GM product. The brand has toyed with developing its own vehicles in recent years, as seen with the Granite concept that flitted around the auto show circuit back in 2010, but such efforts have so far come to naught.

The current strategy has demonstrated moderate success for the truck division. In spite of its lineup's extensive similarities to the Chevy truck portfolio, GMC currently has carved out around 3 percent of the market. The Denali sub-brand of luxury vehicles, which slot between premium Chevrolets and Cadillacs, has proven an especially rich vein for the truckmaker; as of the first half 2016, Denalis made up more than 25 percent of GMC sales.

But General Motors wants to see GMC's market share increase by two-thirds in the next 10 years. Doing that means finding a new strategy—and Jeep's business plan looks like an obvious model to copy. The fabled off-road brand has been one of the brightest stars in Fiat Chrysler's constellation, seeing record sales numbers the last four years running. And the Wrangler has been a big part of the brand's success. In 2015, Jeep sold 255,283 Wranglers around the globe—which equals almost 40 percent of GMC's total global sales.