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By 2g1c2 girls 1 cup

It occurred to me that my comments in the Detroit Auto Show report about the GMC Acadia might need some explanation.

Automotive planners are constantly looking for “white space” for new products. If you could graph all products on the market, and place a dot where they reside in terms of size, power, economy, seating, etc, then anywhere without a dot it white space. Simple, right? In theory, yes. Actually finding the white space and a feasible product to put into it is another answer all together. When you find true whitespace, it’s like finding gold. Think 1984 Chrysler minivans, 1965 Mustang, 1953 Corvette. That’s real white space – new segments. Other types of white space are a certain niche within a segment, like the Ford Taurus SHO, Ford Transit or Ram SRT10 pickup. These products filled a need that was not being met within an existing segment.

So what does this have to do with GMC moving its Acadia large crossover to the midsize segment? The Acadia (and its GM siblings: Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave) is a large crossover. There are very few large crossovers in the US market – besides the GM triplets, there are 2 (non-luxury) others: Ford Flex and Mazda CX-9. A crossover is an SUV that is built on a car body and generally rides lower and more like a car than a “true” SUV. A large or full-size crossover is generally one that is about 200” (5000 mm) or longer. So while the large crossover segment is not really whitespace (anymore), it is only a light shade of grey. GM has been able to sell many of these since they were introduced in 2006, reaching a record 278,419 in the US in 2015.

In my opinion, GM is getting a bit cocky with the move of the Acadia to the midsize segment (around 190”/4800 mm – 200”/5000 mm). Yes, the midsize segment has more sales than the large segment, so why shouldn’t GM go after those sales? 2 reasons:

  • The segment includes some of the best-selling vehicles in the US market (Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, among others). This is the opposite of white space.
  • The new Acadia is also very close in size to GMC’s own Terrain, which at 187.8” is less than 6” shorter than the new Acadia.

Of course, all of this is without knowledge of the General’s product plans that they haven’t announced. Maybe there are other plans in the works that make this make sense. Maybe. Call me skeptical.

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