General Motors’ C1 platform, pronounced “Chi” and referred to as C1XX, made its debut in 2017 with the first-generation Cadillac XT5 and second-generation GMC Acadia. Since then, the architecture has proliferated across every GM brand. So much so, that by the first quarter of 2020, it will underpin a whopping eight GM vehicles across the two largest auto markets. Here’s a closer look at where the GM C1 platform is, where it’s going, and why it’s such an impressive exercise in automotive scale at just the right time.
The GM C1 platform is available in four related, yet sufficiently distinct versions. First, there’s the regular-wheelbase version that debuted on the 2017 Cadillac XT5 and second-gen 2017 GMC Acadia. The second version is the
big huge long-wheelbase variant that introduced the second-gen 2018 Chevrolet Traverse and 2018 Buick Enclave. And now, a third variant has made its way to market.
This third variant is unique, as it’s related to the regular wheelbase version that underpins the XT5 and Acadia, but is modified to feature a wider track. This change resulted in several subsequent changes to the platform (stay tuned for that in an upcoming piece here on GM Authority). This particular flavor of the GM C1 platform, coupled with a short rear overhang, underpins the likes of the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer.
The fourth variant features the same wheelbase and wide track as the third one, but has a longer rear overhang to accommodate a third row. This one underpins the 2020 Cadillac XT6, and two other future GM models – the upcoming three-row Blazer, which we expect will be called Blazer XL, and the “baby” Buick Enclave.”
|Vehicle||Model Code||Platform Variant||Production Facility 1||Production Facility 2||Intro Model Year|
|Cadillac XT5||C1UL||V1 – regular wheelbase, narrow track||Spring Hill, TN, USA||Jinqiao Cadillac, Shanghai, China||2017|
|GMC Acadia||C1UG||V1 – regular wheelbase, narrow track||Spring Hill, TN, USA||-||2017|
|Chevrolet Traverse||C1YC||V2 – long wheelbase, wide track||Delta Township, Michigan, USA||-||2018|
|Buick Enclave||C1YB||V2 – long wheelbase, wide track||Delta Township, Michigan, USA||-||2018|
|Chevrolet Blazer (2-row)||C1UC||V3 – regular wheelbase, wide track, short rear end||Ramos Arizpe, Mexico||-||2019|
|Cadillac XT6||C1TL||V4 – regular wheelbase, wide track, long rear end||Spring Hill, TN, USA||Jinqiao Cadillac, Shanghai, China||2020|
|“Baby” Buick Enclave||C1UB||V4 – regular wheelbase, wide track, long rear end||-||Jinqiao Cadillac, Shanghai, China||2021|
|Chevrolet Blazer XL (3-row)||C1UC-S||V4 – regular wheelbase, wide track, long rear end||-||Jinqiao Cadillac, Shanghai, China||2021|
The GM C1 platform is a unique piece of kit, but not so much when it comes to engineering or technical prowess. From that standpoint, it’s a transverse-engined crossover architecture that isn’t all that special or unique. But it’s special because it is almost unmatched from a business standpoint, particularly when it comes to scale. At peak rollout, C1 will underpin an entire eight models that are medium- or high-margin products assembled at four GM plants around the world.
The only architecture that beats C1 in terms of scale economies internally at GM is the GM K2 body-on-frame platform that underpins all GM full-size truck-based models, including the Silverado 1500 and Silverado HD, Sierra 1500 and Sierra HD, Tahoe and Suburban, Yukon and Yukon XL, plus the Escalade and Escalade ESV. K2 will be succeeded by T1, a transition that will complete by the end of the 2020 calendar year. GM vehicles on the K2 and T1 platforms are the only vehicles to carry an even higher margin than those on the C1 architecture.
The only other GM vehicle platform that comes remotely close to the scale of the C1 platform is the GM D2 architecture, which at one point underpinned seven models, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Volt, Equinox, and Orlando, Buick Envision and Verano, plus the GMC Terrain. But unlike C1, vehicles based on D2 carry a significantly slimmer margin, hence the reason for their recent discontinuation (the Cruze and Volt have been discontinued in North America, but the Cruze lives on in China or South America).
But make no mistake: like vehicles based on D2, each C1-based GM model is well-differentiated, serving as a textbook example of automotive platform sharing done right, as opposed to the universally-hated practice of badge engineering for which GM was infamous in the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s.
More importantly, C1 models are at the heart of GM’s crossover utility vehicle (CUV) portfolio, a market segment that’s growing by leaps and bounds at the expense of sedans as a result of shifts in consumer buying patterns in the automotive space.
During the 2018 calendar year, GM delivered 345,394 units of vehicles based on its C1 platform in the United States, a decrease of 2 percent over 2017 levels.
GM C1 Platform Vehicle Deliveries - Calendar Year 2018 - USA
|MODEL||Q4 18 / Q4 17||Q4 18||Q4 17||Q4 18 SHARE||Q4 17 SHARE||YTD 18 / YTD 17||YTD 18||YTD 17|
And in the first six months of 2019, C1-based vehicles saw 200,999 deliveries, an increase of 13 percent. That rate should easily exceed the 400,000 unit mark for the calendar year, since the two newest C1-based products – the Chevrolet Blazer and Cadillac XT6 – will hit their stride in terms of production and retail availability during the second half of the year (the Blazer should reach full launch capacity in Q3, while the XT6 should complete its launch in the November-December timeframe).
GM C1 Platform Vehicle Deliveries - First Half 2019 - USA
|MODEL||Q2 19 / Q2 18||Q2 19||Q2 18||Q2 19 SHARE||Q2 18 SHARE||YTD 19 / YTD 18||YTD 19||YTD 18|
But all that’s just the beginning. Up until this point, The General has only sold C1-based vehicles in North America. That is, with the exception of the Cadillac XT5, GM has not C1 models in the world’s largest market – China. That is about to change in a big way, as General Motors just launched the second C1-based model in China with the new Cadillac XT6. Over the next six to nine months, the XT6 will be joined by two other aforementioned C1-based vehicles – the three-row Chevrolet Blazer / Blazer XL and the “baby” Buick Enclave.
Like the Cadillac XT6, the Blazer XL and baby Enclave will both be produced locally in China for the Chinese market – a huge competitive advantage that allows GM and its SAIC joint venture/partner to avoid China’s sky-high tariffs on imported vehicles. That ultimately enables GM to sell the vehicles at affordable prices, thereby driving consideration and sales volume. In other words, the volume of GM C1 vehicles should skyrocket over the next year as models for China – the XT6, Blazer XL and baby Enclave – launch in the world’s largest automotive market.
GM sales volume, revenue and profit should spike as a result of these healthy-margin vehicles, giving the Detroit-based automaker the financial freedom to continue investing in its core automotive business, bringing to life passion-fueled projects like the mid-engine Corvette, while continuing to fund expensive long-term mobility endeavors like electric cars and the Cruise robo-taxi service. Let’s just hope that The General can spread some of that financial gain to make a next-gen Camaro.
We’ll have many more juicy reports on GM’s C1 platform in the near future, so be sure to subscribe to GM Authority for more C1 platform news, GM platform news, Chevrolet news, Buick news, GMC news, Cadillac news, and around-the-clock GM news coverage.