NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Yesterday at Cedar Lake Studio in New York, General Motors (GM) unveiled its Chevrolet and GMC 2015 SUV line-up with a focus on the all-new Chevy tanks, the Tahoe and Suburban. GM holds about 75% of the full-size SUV market, and it's selling the land yachts in droves: thus far in 2013, Chevy and GMC have sold more than 180,000 Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, Yukon XL, and Denali SUVs with revenue on full-sized SUVs alone equal to that of a Fortune 400 company.
Of course, in a world of CAFE standards where fuel efficiency is king, it would seem gas-guzzlers are beset by manifold challenges. Amazingly, though, GM is dismantling that expectation.
Of course, SUVs in total are only 6.5% of the U.S. light vehicle market this year compared to 18% in 1999, according to Sean P. McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. Sales this year of SUVs are up only 1.4% this year compared to 9.5% for the overall market.Still, GM has legacy on its side, having produced the Suburban as a profitable niche vehicle since 1935, and in a sense it could be viewed as efficient, not just an industrial haul vehicle. "It can hold seven people and produce better fuel mileage for seven occupants than three equivalent sub-compact cars to do the same job," McAlinden said. Perhaps that's in part why GM--with dealers delivering 275,847 vehicles in the United States in August, up 15% compared with a year ago--has been a hit with household consumers: retail sales increased 22% while fleet sales were down 8%. The large SUV segment was up 29% in August compared to the previous year.
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