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December 15, 2012

GM aims to regain dominance in truck market

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The company’s shares closed Thursday at $25.12, up more than 20 percent so far this year. But that’s still about half the price needed for the U.S. government to sell its roughly 32 percent stake in the company and recoup its bailout money.

GM has yielded market share in the U.S. as Toyota and Honda have rebounded from inventory shortages caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last year and as Ford and Chrysler have captured double-digit truck sales growth this year.

Combined, the Chevrolet Silverado and its sister GMC Sierra make up 34.7 percent of the full-size truck market through the first 11 months of this year, according to MotorIntelligence.com. That’s down from a 40.3 percent share in 2008, before the company’s bankruptcy reorganization.

Meanwhile, Ford’s F-series has captured 39.6 percent of the market this year, up from 32.8 percent in 2008. Chrysler’s Dodge Ram is at 18.1 percent, up from 15.6 percent in 2008.

Ford has effectively pitched the V-6 turbocharged engine in its F-series, which buyers like because its fuel economy is slightly better than the GM offerings and it has more power, Johnson said. Meanwhile, Chrysler has taken a more focused approach marketing its Dodge Ram trucks, refreshing the interior and adding an eight-speed transmission to boost the fuel economy of its V-6 model.

To keep up, the new offerings from GM need better fuel economy, updated cabins with more creature comforts and infotainment systems that better sync with smartphones, said Alec Gutierrez, an analyst with auto information company Kelley Blue Book.

“The power and towing capacity has to be there,” Gutierrez said. “That ultimately will be what a truck buyer looks at: the best package of fuel efficiency coupled with torque, horsepower and towing capacity. GM’s new trucks need to push each of those benchmarks without sacrificing any one of the four.”

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