Is GMC Canyon Rare Because Few Are Made Or Few Want It?

It’s an interesting question seeing as how GMC Senior Marketing Manager Stuart Pierce brought it up. Last year GMC sold 32,826 midsize Canyon pickups. As a reference, Honda sold 33,000 Ridgeline pickups and Jeep sold a bit more than 40,000 Gladiator trucks. So in this segment, GMC sells the least amount of pickups. Looking at it a different way Toyota sold almost 250,000 Tacoma pickups and Nissan has sold around 75,000 Frontier trucks over the last several years. So is the GMC Canyon rare because it makes so few or because too few really want it?

Recently Pierce told Muscle Cars and Trucks, “Demand is exceeding supply. We don’t have a big segment share in there right now but it’s interesting as these new competitors have come on, that the segment has grown but hasn’t necessarily taken away business from us.” Well, hold on just a sec.

Since 2014 The GMC Canyon has sold a steady 30,000 a year

A GMC Canyon being debuted at an auto show
GMC Canyon | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Since it was introduced in 2014 the Canyon has sold a steady low-30,000 trucks every year. Yes, the segment is growing. But is it complacency, production constraints, or demand that keeps your yearly totals at 30,000. Is it that old supply and demand thing?

We know Ferrari limits the number of vehicles it makes in a year. That’s how Ferrari keeps list prices high. If you limit supply you can increase the price if more want what you make than you actually make. But GMC is not bound by exclusivity considerations like Ferrari. Far from it. So, while what Pierce is saying might be true, have you ever known of any GM products that production couldn’t be cranked up when supplies become low? 

GM has ways to increase the production if supplies run low

Especially with a mass manufacturer like GM, there are ways to increase production. Adding a second or third shift to the Wentzville plant in Missouri is one way. Giving incentives on the assembly line for speeding up production slightly is another. After 100 years of manufacturing vehicles, we think that GM knows a few tricks to increase supplies of vehicles.

“Our segment share is going down because it’s getting bigger but we just can’t build any more Canyons,” says Pierce. “Just like Sierras. We need more Sierras. It’s a good problem to have.” Wait. So if you had more capacity you could have made more Sierras, too? Is that what we are hearing?

2019 GMC Canyon
2019 GMC Canyon | GMC

We don’t think the issue of low sales is due to limited capacity

If Nissan is making 75,000 Frontiers year after year and it’s 15 years old, and Toyota makes close to 250,000 Tacoma trucks a year, wouldn’t those numbers indicate there is a demand for midsize pickups, just not yours? Putting it another way, the Canyon is in last place for sales in this segment. The segment is growing. Some of the competition is very old. Yet the issue for weak numbers is because there’s limited capacity? Um, no.

The Wentzville plant is running three shifts. But GM closed its Shreveport, Louisiana, plant a few years ago when it was also building Canyons and Colorados. It has been idle for years. Why would GM limit production if it has a strong-selling model? I can’t tell GM how to run its business, nor do I have all of the info necessary to make those decisions. But, if the demand was really an issue it would get taken care of in rapid fashion by the General. So something smells a bit fishy.