SAN DIEGO — Canada’s current love affair with utility vehicles and pickups, coupled with a growing demand for premium products, is playing right into the hands of GMC Canada and its AT4 off-road trim, a brand executive says.
“The Canadian marketplace has the distinction of being the No. 1 market globally for GMC,” Mark Alger, national marketing manager for Buick and GMC, told Automotive News Canada.
The GMC brand is sold in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Middle East.
“We have 4.5 per cent of the market for GMC in Canada because we have a portfolio that fits the market,” Alger said. “We would love to get a five-per-cent share in Canada, and that's our longer-term view.”
GMC’s premium sub-brands are currently driving the majority of its growth in the Canadian market, he said. A new factor behind the growth is the AT4 premium off-road badge that was introduced on the Sierra 1500 last year and was announced Wednesday as an upcoming new addition to the next-generation Sierra Heavy Duty line-up. AT4 versions of other GMC products will follow as each is refreshed or redesigned.
Alger said that the AT4 sub-brand is already making an impact on sales for GMC, despite the fact it’s so far been given little deliberate exposure. The majority of the growth has come simply by prioritizing AT4 production for the new Sierra 1500, meaning that it’s readily available to dealers.
“It's brand new to the market, so we haven't actually had a chance to promote it yet,” he said. “It's already, without much advertising support and marketing support, one of our highest-volume and fastest-turning trucks.
“Our plan is [for AT4] to be, in the Canadian marketplace, 20 per cent of the Sierra business.”
Pricing in Canada for the 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 starts at $61,295 with freight and PDI for the double cab model with the standard box and escalates up to a starting MSRP of $63,795 for the crew cab with the standard box. Upgrading from the base 5.3-litre V8 with its 355 hp and 383 lb.-ft. of torque and a eight-speed automatic transmission to the optional 6.2-litre V8 with 420 hp, 460 lb.-ft. of torque and a 10-speed automatic transmission costs $2,895 more on its own or $6,240 as part of the off-road performance package. That package also includes a cat-back performance exhaust system and performance air intake that adds 15 hp and 9 lb.-ft.
Numerous packages are available on the Sierra AT4 at varying price points, which Alger said is part of the brand’s growth strategy in concert with being prepared for increased premium sales.
“We're trying to get more AT4s, more Denalis, but we're also putting option packages on the vehicles to give customers the features they want,” he said. “We're seeing all the growth come at the high end of the marketplace, which is interesting.
“We're selling more Denalis than we ever have before. Just Denali sells more than most luxury brands, and we have higher price points than luxury brands. The market continues to grow in the premium categories, and we're playing right into it.”