Chevrolet may have a valuable secret weapon when it comes to the market’s shift to crossovers, trucks and utility vehicles in general. While Japanese automakers will likely forever hold a competitive advantage in perception when it comes to building compact cars and sedans, American brands know a thing or two about building a utility vehicle.
That core competency is likely to be exploited and is already occurring with launches like the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse. The market’s shift to crossovers is certainly reflected in the Traverse’s fresh design, which unmistakably shares a profile akin to the Chevrolet Tahoe.
“[Tahoe and Suburban] do phenomenal things for us from an image standpoint,” Chevrolet marketing manager Steve Majoros told The Detroit Free Press. “That’s a business opportunity. The new Traverse was specifically designed to have a higher beltline, less rounded body and more upright pillars. The presence of the new model aligns with how people see SUVs.”
The resurgence of utility vehicles is being seen as a tremendous opportunity for American automakers to finally shake poor perceptions of low-quality vehicles from the 1990s and early 2000s. And, as crossovers become more fuel efficient, the vehicles themselves offer a viable alternative to a midsize sedan.
Leveraging a history in rugged SUVs will continue for both Ford and General Motors, especially with Chevrolet. The bowtie brand houses the history of the Suburban, which has been in continuous production since 1935. Although Japanese and other foreign automakers have their own crossovers and SUVs, there’s no sweet sense of nostalgia with American consumers.
“Honda and Toyota don’t have decades of strength in pickups and SUVs. They can’t leverage that history in the way Chevrolet and Ford can,” IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley said.
It’s a unique opportunity for Chevrolet, and one it likely won’t ever be able to capitalize on again.