History, religion, politics, family values, traditions, name any subject. It doesn’t really matter which viewpoint on life you have, chances are that the seemingly random location where you were born and raised will largely define your opinions, choices, morals and even aesthetic tastes for the rest of your life. For my generation no matter where you grew up, most of us were also influenced by at least one television show or movie with a cult car in it. And that meant America! I know a guy from Italy who is obsessed with the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard, another here in the Middle East who is obsessed with KITT from Knight Rider and, well, let’s not talk about the abundance of slightly ‘touched’ individuals who are DeLorean/Back to the Future fans please. Our very own features writer Imran became so obsessed with Smokey and the Bandit as a child that he now walks around everyday with an unbuttoned shirt showing just a glimpse of the large golden medallion hidden within his thick bush of dark chest hair — which is implanted by the way — and only buys American cars with Screaming Chickens on ‘the hood’. Despite the fact he grew up in the UK.
The Middle Eastern landscape is big and rugged and suits the dimensions and capabilities of sturdy large GMC trucks.
For me though, it was The A-Team. It all seems a bit silly now but I spent a good few of the early years of my life drinking my milk, quoting B.A. Baracus and really wanting a black 1983 GMC Vandura van with red stripe, spoiler and turbine mag wheels. It was just so different than the cars that surrounded me. However, after a few years I ‘grew out of this phase’ and eventually stopped ending every sentence with “sucka!” or “fool!” and I’ve also gotten over my fear of flying. And that was pretty much the only connection I ever had with a GMC vehicle. I had never even seen one in real life as they just didn’t exist in the European market and that probably would have been the end of it. Except I ended up in the Middle East…
The Middle East is an extremely strong market for GMC and has been for generations. There’s a faithful following in the region and it’s really not hard to see why. The Middle Eastern landscape is big and rugged and suits the dimensions and capabilities of sturdy large GMC trucks. It’s all about scale. A Yukon or Sierra just wouldn’t physically fit down most European roads but it’s as home in the GCC as it is on American turf. And when you get down to the nitty gritty, GMC’s presence in the Middle East has spanned an impressive 111 years and that has created generation after generation who trust the brand. And if you are going to buy a GMC, what you want is a Denali.
All models of GMC vehicles are available as a ‘Denali’ which originated back in 1999 as the pinnacle of trim, technology and safety features for each vehicle line. Which also explains the name as ‘Denali’ (formerly Mount McKinley) is the highest peak in North America. Now, to the annoyance of all my GCC GMC fanboy friends, I’ve just arrived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to drive the all-new GMC Terrain tomorrow including the new Denali Terrain. But in an effort to keep me busy for a few hours today, GMC has kindly provided me with the complete Denali range to drive around in for a few hours. Sounds good to me.
With all vehicles in gloss black, blacked out windows, chrome accents and blood red GMC badging on the large chrome grilles, the collected Denali parked outside the hotel look like a VVIP has just arrived or about to be picked up. Every passerby tries in vain to stare inside to catch a glimpse of whatever dignitary they imagine would deserve such a cool and slightly menacing cavalcade. But it’s just for me and a few other journalists that have arrived early. And all of us are thinking the same thing: we wish we were wearing black suits and dark sunglasses so we looked like Special Agents of some close body protection top secret security detail. It’s just the right vehicles in the right environment in the right specifications and colour combining to produce a memorable moment. But it has also got me pondering the future…
This is not a drive review of each of the GMC Denali models as we’ve already covered them in wheels. But the collected models here serve to highlight a point that not only affects GMC, General Motors in, er, general, but also the future automotive industry as a whole. And therefore affects us all. With the exception of the all-new Terrain, this is the complete current GMC line-up and it can easily be divided into two groups.
The first group is the Yukon, Sierra and Canyon. This is traditional GMC. They are rugged trucks built out of iron girders, testosterone and freedom and that’s why some folk love them. Now, I have no idea why someone would want a utility pickup truck optioned with premium paint, chrome detailing and a luxury leather interior but I love the fact it exists even though I wouldn’t want to throw my tools in the back for my day at the construction site. Driving the Yukon XL in particular is an occasion to be cherished. It’s an event. This is the embodiment of America on wheels. Made even better because these are the top dog Denali versions.
The second group consists of the Acadia. On its own. This is the future for GMC and possibly the best car they have ever made. Ever. This is a global car built for a global market. This will sell in North America, the Middle East, Europe, China, everywhere. And that is the strategy General Motors has adopted to ensure its survival. This is the only option available now to car manufacturers around the world. No car company today is thinking about tomorrow and ‘the next’ model. Tomorrow is about survival in a world market but the focus is about the day after tomorrow. Making global cars on a cost-effective single multi-use platform. Embracing hybrid interim technology on the journey towards fully battery-electric powertrains. Staying competitive on a global scale. Expanding into the lucrative Chinese market. Being relevant when autonomy level five kicks in. Being relevant. Being relevant. Being relevant. Ensuring survival.
Cars sold in Japan, Europe, Middle East, China or America will be the same and only the successful companies will survive.
The new GMC Terrain that I will be driving tomorrow will no doubt snuggly fit into the second group and you can read the review in one of the upcoming issues. This is a new era for GMC, General Motors and the automotive industry as a collective. The objective is to be relevant in a future of homogenous vehicles sold globally. The cars sold in Japan, Europe, Middle East, China or America will be the same and only the successful companies will survive. No cult television shows or movies exist with ‘special’ cars anymore unless you think a Mitsubishi Eclipse with a sticker on its flank and 18 fictional forward gears is special. Where you are born will cease to matter.