Even though General Motors is entering the second half of its global product renaissance, the fact that its market share is at an all-time low is peculiar, if not painful. And although some of the sales slump is related to GM’s unwillingness to give away its vehicles with huge incentives (such as the 2014 Silverado and Sierra), a lot of it also has to do with product. And we wonder how much business The General is ignoring by not offering all-wheel drive on more of its core models.
For instance, not one vehicle of Chevrolet’s core car vehicle lineup offers all-wheel drive, including the Spark, Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, or Impala. It’s true that the practice of offering AWD on cars (as opposed to crossovers, SUVs or pickup trucks) has traditionally been relegated to also-ran competitors like Subaru, whose brand hinges on AWD. But today, GM’s direct competition, namely Ford, is beginning to offer AWD in an increasing part of their lineups, putting Chevrolet in a competitive disadvantage in markets where snowy and icy conditions are prevalent.
Specifically, the Ford Fusion and Taurus both offer either FWD or AWD, compared to the Chevy Malibu and Impala, which come in front-drive form only, no matter the powertrain. Coupled with an otherwise competitive product, the drivetrain difference alone could be more than enough to get new customers to try the Chevrolet brand, in some cases, for the very first time. Heck, Subaru bases its entire
value proposition reason for existing on making AWD standard across its lineup (BRZ excluded), so why can’t GM — a firm that sells 25 times more cars — at least offer it, potentially conquesting many Subaru owners along the way?
For the time being, we remain hopeful that GM’s next-generation vehicle architectures (including G2XX, D2XX, E2XX) deliver the option of all-wheel drive not only in crossovers, but also in cars — such as the Cruze, Malibu, and Impala, thereby eliminating the competitive disadvantage currently enjoyed by Ford and by Subaru. And though the latter is not a major threat, it still presents a sizable opportunity to earn the business of traditional Subaru customers, while allowing The General to be (among the) first to market in the space, rather than waiting for competitors to pave the way.
|VEHICLE||COMPETITION OFFERING AWD|
|CHEVROLET CRUZE/OPEL ASTRA||SUBARU IMPREZA|
|CHEVROLET MALIBU||FORD FUSION, SUBARU LEGACY|
|CHEVROLET IMPALA||FORD TAURUS,DODGE CHARGER,CHRYSLER 300|
To note, respective platform mates of the Chevrolet Malibu (Opel Insignia) and Impala (Cadillac XTS and Buick LaCrosse) currently offer all-wheel drive.
And if all that doesn’t convince you, consider the strong base an AWD system provides for high-performance variants; just imagine a tuned Cruze to battle the Golf R, or a segment-first high-performance Malibu.