In January, we reported that General Motors cancelled plans to build the GMC Granite. While not many details were available about the decision, GM Authority sources say that the primary reason was a considerable amount of negative feedback from existing GMC (truck) owners, who didn’t want to their trucks being associated with an “econobox” that would result in delivering Scion buyers to their otherwise “rough-and-tough” brand. But perhaps the bigger concern for GM enthusiasts isn’t whether or not the Granite was a good fit for GMC… but why it wasn’t a Chevrolet to begin with.
If it weren’t for the existence of GMC, I’m willing to bet that we would already see a Granite-like vehicle wearing the golden bow tie. This “spreading of the models” among GM’s (remaining) brands has never done the automaker any good. Such fine examples as the Cadillac Cimarron and Catera as well as the Pontiac G3 and G5 come to mind. None of those were good vehicles… and none were absolutely necessary for the success or effective continuity of each brand. They were, however, introduced in a forced sort of way that didn’t add value to anyone; if anything the additional sales generated with these vehicles detracted from the main purpose of each brand. Fast forward to today and the writing seems to have been on the wall all along: Pontiac is gone, Cadillac is only now recovering.
Now, there are those who would, in all seriousness, tell me that the Granite would have done wonders for GMC and would have brought younger buyers into GMC showrooms. Surely, the younger buyer is something GMC desperate needs for continued success… right? Wrong. Who says that GMC even needs to cater to a younger demographic? The brand has, through the years, established its “Professional Grade” image and is very profitable at serving its current customers. Why mess with a proven, working formula for the sake of a low-cost, low-margin product like the Granite? Is alienating the core truck buyer to attract a less lucrative customer really that important? Or can it instead be made a Chevy while not putting a damper on Big Red’s overall tough image?
But forget about profitability, numbers, or the business side of the automotive equation and riddle me this: who in their right mind believes that the Granite would have been a natural extension of GMC? The vehicle — if produced — would still have competed with the likes of the Kia Soul and Scion xB and xD. These brands are either known for these kinds of products (Scion) or are attempting to become a full-line automaker (Kia). GMC is neither.
That is to say that an average consumer knows that they can find an entry-level compact vehicle from Kia and Scion. Not so with GMC — as most people think of SUVs and trucks upon seeing the three big, bold, red letters. This, again, brings us to the question of whether it’s even worth it for GMC to effectively trow away its current customer base and reputation known for durability, toughness, professionalism, and perhaps even masculinity — for a “look at me I’m so trying to be cool in my sub-$20,000 boxy box”. Not worth it. Not even close.
The question that perhaps most effectively allows us to understand the real problem with the Granite is the answer to this question: why was the Granite not a Chevy? The answer? Because of the existence of GMC and the pressure to supply the niche brand with new product.
Take the Granite, change up the styling, and make it a Chevy. Sell it worldwide — unlike the Granite, which would have been limited to North America. The result? An instant competitor to the Kia Soul, the Scion boxes, and maybe even the Honda Element. Perhaps the Granite’s cancellation means that GM is no longer confused about GMC and its purpose. We certainly hope that’s the case.