Big Yank utes have become an almost overnight sensation in Australia, with demand for the powerful load-haulers skyrocketing.
HSV has been importing and converting (or re-engineering) the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 for more than a year now. The smaller, V8 petrol-powered 1500 is due to join HSV’s ranks very soon, while the wider Walkinshaw Group business has been running 24 hour shifts in order to meet demand for its converted RAM 1500s.
It has become abundantly clear that previous concerns about US-sourced full-size products being too large for Australia aren’t a worry for many customers.
This opens the door for other super-sized American products like the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Suburban, or Cadillac Escalade to be brought down under.
However, Chris Polites, Executive Director - Sales, Marketing and After-Sales at HSV, told Wheels that large American SUVs would have tough competition should they be offered locally.
“There are two different market characteristics to be aware of,” he explained. “There is the towing market, which is LandCruiser and Patrol, and then there is the luxury large SUVs, of which the German brands do a good job.
“Any program [like Suburban and Tahoe] you need to assess which way you tackle the market, because there is already some pretty good incumbents.”
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“We get asked [if we are bringing the Surburban or Tahoe to Australia] a lot by our customers. We always look at everything, particularly within the GM portfolio, but we have no plans this year. Our year is going to be taken up by Silverado.
“When you are assessing a business case, you are looking for any carryover work you may have already done, particularly with Silverado platform [which is shared with the Suburban and Tahoe]. Apart from that, any business case needs to be assessed on its own merits.
“There is also a capacity issue at our end, we would have to take something out of the schedule, to put one of those SUVs in, which would be a big decision to make.”
Reading between the lines, it seems that customer demand for these large Yank SUVs just isn’t there, with Australians already well served in that segment. While there is some interest, it is seemingly too niche to justify a full conversion program.
There were reports late last year that HSV would be importing and converting the Suburban in the near future, however, these plans now appear to be on ice following some preliminary investigation by HSV.
The Suburban isn’t completely foreign to Australia, having been imported and badged as a Holden between February 1998 and January 2001.
A new Suburban has been revealed for 2021, and it’s the biggest SUV in Chevrolet’s history, measuring in at 5732mm long, 2044mm wide, 1889mm tall, with a 33406mm wheelbase.
The smaller Tahoe has a 5351mm length and 3070mm wheelbase, while retaining identical width and height.
For comparison, Toyota’s LC200 LandCruiser Sahara has an overall length of 4950mm, width of 1970mm, height of 1905mm, and 2850mm wheelbase.
Mercedes-Benz is about to launch the 2020 GLS SUV in Australia, which is 5207mm long, 1955mm wide, 1823mm tall, and has a 3134mm wheelbase.
GM’s Magnetic Ride Control is standard on both the Suburban and Tahoe, while each can be optioned with air suspension.
Both come fitted with a 265kW/519Nm 5.3-litre V8 as standard on all variants bar the High Country.
Those models are fitted with a 313kW/623Nm 6.2-litre V8. A 3.0-litre turbo-diesel six cylinder is also available, with claimed 207kW/623Nm outputs.
Each engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
GM currently dominates the full-size SUV segment in North America, with the Chevrolet Tahoe accounting for 31 percent of the market, GMC Yukon 22 percent, and Suburban 15 percent as of Q3 last year. During the same period Ford’s F150-based Expedition boasted 22 percent market share.