GMC stands for General Motors Truck Company. It once was the GMC Division of General Motors LLC as part of the American automobile company. The organization was founded in 1911 by William C. Durant. They have their headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.
GMC’s primary focus is to produce sport utility vehicles and trucks. They sell military vehicles, pickup trucks, commercial trucks, vans, buses, and SUVs worldwide under the supervision of General Motors. They combine intuitive technologies with premium materials to create vehicles that allow consumers to experience a high end of amenities, design and performance.
A Brief Overview Of GMC History
Start of a New Endeavor
William C. Durant founded General Motors in 1908. At the time, it was meant to be a holding company for his Buick line. Just a year later, GM acquired the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company from Pontiac, Michigan.
The Rapid Motor Vehicle Company was created in 1901. The founder of that company was Max Grabowsky and his team developed many of the first commercial trucks on the market. These trucks used a one-cylinder engine.
In that same year, GM also acquired the Reliance Motor Car Company, which was another independent automaker. In 1911, Reliance and Rapid merged together to form the General Motors Truck Company, otherwise referred to as GMC Truck.
This truck line first made its appearance at the New York International Auto Show. In that first year, 22,000 trucks were manufactured, but GMC only contributed 372 of them.
Expanding the Company
GMC ran three separate manufacturing locations within the United States. They were located in Oakland, California, Saint Louis, Missouri, and Pontiac, Michigan.
A GMC truck drove from Seattle in 1916, to New York City. The journey took 30 days. Ten years later, in 1926, they attempted a similar feat. This time the trip was from New York to San Francisco. It only took five days plus an additional 30 minutes to accomplish.
In the midst of World War II, the company manufactured 600,000 trucks for the United States Armed Forces.
GM purchased most of the Yellow Coach in 1925. They were a bus manufacturer from Chicago and found by John D. Hertz. Once they bought the rest of the shares in 1943, they renamed the company GM Truck and Coach Division.
They produced interurban coaches through 1980, plus transit buses until 1987. In addition, they eventually withdrew because the market became too competitive. Then, they sold the company to the Transportation Manufacturing Corporation and Motor Coach Industries of Canada.
In 1927, the company released their T-Series vehicles, and the first GMC truck was born. These early GMC models used Pontiac engines, and these early models from GMC history used Pontiac engines until 1932. The larger, one- or two-ton vehicles used the more efficient and powerful Buick 6-cylinder valve-in-head engines instead.
The company built a new assembly plant in Pontiac, Michigan. At the time, it became the largest plant dedicated to trucks in the world.
By 1931, GMC took control of all the Buick 6-cylinder engine production. At the time, Buick had only been using straight 8s.
In the 1930s, GMC produced 21 truck trailer chassis. They even started making fifth-wheel couplers. During 1936, the company released 15 new models. This included panel trucks with Oldsmobile engines and ½-ton pickup trucks. This is also when the Suburban Carryall vehicle first hit production. At the time, it had a two-door design with three available bench seats.
In 1946, they released their E series. It featured both light and medium-duty trucks. They looked a lot like the company’s earlier models. At the time, they had 48 varieties that offered up to 55,000 pounds GVWR. Then, in 1949, the H Series took over with all redesigned chassis and new cabs. Overall, they improved appearance, durability, handling, ride, and driver comfort. This pushed their lineup to 75 models.
Starting in 1957, four-wheel-drive became available on some of the lighter duty truck models. They also pioneered the use of front and rear air suspension. By 1960, most of the GMC models were powered by the GMC V or V12 engine, while the Detroit Diesel 6V-71 was used in the majority of heavier models. By 1968, the company ranked third for United States truck sales, which was a landmark year in GMC truck history.
The End of the Century
By 1970, lots of changes were occurring. The new Rallywagon and Vandura were released. On top of that, Cummins diesel engines became available for most HD conventional cab designs. The company also released the Allison AT540, which was a four-speed automatic transmission featuring a torque converter. They used it in school buses and medium-duty vehicles.
By 1975, the full-size light truck sales began to plummet in response to the worldwide fuel shortage. It didn’t last long though; by 1979, they were again in third for United States truck sales.
In 1981, GM created The General Motors Truck & Bus Group. It included three organizations: Detroit Diesel Allison Division, Bedford Commercial Vehicle of the United Kingdom, and GM Truck & Bus Vehicle Operation. A year later, GMC made their way into the compact truck market with their S-15 pickups.
They also entered into the mid-size van category with their Safari in 1985. They had cargo and passenger varieties for sale, with engine options of a 2.5-liter L4 or 4.3-liter V6. A year later, GM created a joint venture with Volvo to produce and market some heavy-duty trucks.
In 1991, GMC sold more than 3,000 light military trucks. They were either ambulance military or troop carriers.
The Modern Age
In 2000, the company released the GMC Envoy which was a more luxurious and upscale version of their Jimmy model. By 2001, it was powered by their newest Vortec 4.2-inline 6-cylinder engine.
After racking up more than 100 years in the automobile business, GMC has proven they provide motor vehicles that excel in quality, carrying capability, reliability, styling, comfort, economy, and performance.
Past GMC vehicles are collectible and often appear at antique truck shows. GM also displays several of the vehicles in their Heritage Fleet and at several vehicle shows.
In 2002, the released their book titled, “GMC: The First 100 Years.” It offered a complete history of this automaker. Today, they offer several light-duty trucks, vans, and SUVs. They’ve also produced many heavy-duty trucks, ambulances, military vehicles, motorhomes, transit buses and fire trucks.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
From 2008 through 2013, they produced the GMC Yukon Hybrid. This eight-passenger SUV combined the use of an electric motor with their V8 engine producing 332 horsepower. Driving on the electric power up to 30 mph was possible.
Then, in 2016, GM produced 700 hybrid pickup trucks. This included 200 GMC Sierra, while the rest were Chevrolet Silverados. They performed market tests on them, but only in California. They featured the GM eAssist mild hybrid system. This operates by using the alternator as a motor for the start-stop feature and acceleration.
Safety and Crash Ratings
While there aren’t currently any Top Picks for the company from the IIHS, several of their SUV models feature decent ratings. The trucks also tend to fair on average as far as safety ratings are concerned.
In addition, the NHTSA ranked ten of their 2018 models with a five-star overall safety rating.
GMC Safety comes with a variety of advanced technologies that keep drivers and passengers safe on the road. The Forward Collision Alert uses radar and cameras to detect how far the vehicles are in front of you. Then, visual and audible signals alert the driver if a collision appears imminent. With Forward Automatic Braking, crash severity is limited because the vehicle applies the brakes when the driver doesn’t take action before a crash occurs. With Front Pedestrian Braking, the system detects when someone walks in front of the vehicle. Then, it alerts the driver and applies the brakes when necessary.
Some safety features are part of the vehicle’s design as well. The Safety Alert Seat vibrates to alert the driver of a possible collision. In addition, there are numerous airbags throughout the lineup to protect the body and head in the event of a crash. The company offers driver and passenger front and side airbags standard, but there’s also available driver knee and seat mounted center airbags as well.
Parking safety features include the Automatic Parking Assist, Front and Rear Park Assist, and Rear Park Assist. With the Rear Cross Traffic Alert, drivers receive a warning if vehicles approach while backing up. They also offer the Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning. This helps drivers that veer out of the lane unintentionally. Through the use of a camera which reads the lines on the road, drivers are alerted when they are drifting over the line without using a turn signal. If the driver doesn’t respond to the alert, gentle steering is provided to guide the vehicle back into its place.
Other safety features include Following Distance Indicator, Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Tow, Teen Driver settings, and OnStar.
GMC Safety Recalls
Most statistics don’t separate GMC from GM as far as their rankings are concerned. With that in mind, Wards Auto rated GM far below industry average when it came to recall rates. In fact, they came in 6th place out of 18 total manufacturers evaluated. They did, however, rank above industry average when it came to the percentage of recalled vehicles with consequences that could cause a fire, accident, crash, injury, or death. Their rate was 90.1% which placed them at 12 out of 18 automakers.
The good news about the statistics is that GM initiated almost 54% of their own recalls instead of the NHTSA. That placed them higher than the industry average of 46%.
In 2016, the company recalled over four million vehicles, with the majority of them in the United States. It was to fix an airbag software defect that was linked to a death. Vehicles involved included 2014-2017 Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, and Buick models.
In extreme cases, the diagnostic module, which senses the state of the vehicle, went into a test mode. When this occurred, the front airbags wouldn’t inflate and the seat belts failed as well.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
Consumer Reports did rank GMC separate from the other companies, so it’s easier to see an accurate picture of what people think. Overall, customer satisfaction was rated relatively high, but predicted reliability was on the low side.
J.D. Power ranked the 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD for Best Performance and Design in the large heavy-duty pickup truck category.
Consumer Reports also ranks automakers by overall cost to maintain and repair. GMC ranked extremely low for the 3-year average cost which came out to just $70. In fact, that placed them as one of the most cost-effective in the study. After a 10-year period, that average becomes $520, which set the automaker in the middle of the rankings.
Throughout the years of GMC production, the brand has been the recipient of many awards. Here are some of their most recent, prestigious accolades.
- Kelley Blue Book’s 2017 Brand Image Award for Most Refined Brand for the fourth consecutive year.
- Most Ideal Popular Brand in AutoPacific’s 2016 Ideal Vehicle Awards for the third consecutive year.
- U.S. News & World Report announced the 2016 GMC Yukon is the Best Large SUV for Families.
- The GMC Sierra 1500 was named the 2016 Texas Truck Showdown Towing Champion.
- GMC Canyon and Sierra are recognized among the Top 10 in Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value Awards.
- GMC Canyon won Cars.com Midsize Pickup Challenge.
Amazon in Car Delivery
GMC partnered with Amazon to ensure that drivers receive packages even when they aren’t at home. GMC owners with the Connected Access services have their packaged delivered to their vehicle instead. All that’s required is a 2015 model vehicle or newer with an active plan. The driver also needs to be an Amazon Prime member and located within a participating zip code.
The service gives the delivery driver access to the vehicle or cargo area while it’s parked. This allows for packages to no longer sit on the porch waiting to be stolen or subject to weather conditions.
Users simply download the Amazon Key app on a smartphone, then link that program to their GMC and Amazon accounts. Then, when a purchase is made, the user simply needs to select the “In-car” delivery option at checkout.
When the package is scheduled for delivery, Amazon sends a notification to the user with a four-hour time slot. The vehicle must be parked within two blocks of the address the driver selects. When the driver arrives, they request a remote unlock of the vehicle and GMC Connect Services allows them in. When the delivery is complete, the vehicle locks itself back up again and a final notification is sent to the user.
Sharing with Chevrolet
During the 1920s, Chevrolet and GMC trucks shared a lot of similarities. They were built on some of the same platforms and used a lot of similar body sheet work. The only things that were different were the grilles and nameplates.
At the time, GMC mainly marketed their line to businesses and commercial customers while Chevy focuses on private ownership. In addition, Chevy vehicles have only ever been sold through a Chevrolet dealership whereas GMC trucks have been made available through Cadillac and Buick locations in the past.
Chevrolet and GMC trucks are identical from a mechanical standpoint. The difference is that GMC is more of a premium offering over the Chevy brand, especially when it comes to the Denali series.
Snapshot of the Company
GMC participates in manufacturing trucks and SUVs since 1902. They continue to evolve and offer more fuel-efficient vehicles. Their highest-volume vehicle is the Sierra pickup, often hailed as the most powerful light-duty pickup truck on the market.
Currently, the company is located in Detroit, Michigan. Mary Teresa Barra is the CEO and Chairman of the General Motors Company. She’s held that position since 2014 and is the first female CEO of any major automaker.
The company uses several GM production facilities to build GMC vehicles. In Wentzville, Missouri, they produce the GMC Savana. The GMC Sierra is produced in Flint, Michigan alongside the Silverado. In Arlington, Texas, they manufacture the GMC Yukon with the Tahoe and Suburban. At the Fort Wayne, Indiana production facility, the GMC Sierra Extended and Regular Cab truck makes its way down the line with the Chevrolet Silverado. At the production facility in Lansing, Michigan, the GMC Acadia is assembled next to the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave.
The only production facilities outside the United States that GMC uses from GM are located in Canada and Mexico.
In 2017, GMC’s parent brand GM sold 9,600,000 vehicles. GMC supplied a record-breaking sales year with a three percent increase over 2016. On top of that, they increased their average transaction price from $32,600 in 2007 to $43,800 by 2017. This is the highest average selling price in the brand’s history.
Denali accounts for a third of the GMC vehicles sold in the United States. December 2017 was its best-selling month with almost 40% of the sales.
General Motors is the American multinational automaker from Detroit, Michigan that oversees GMC production. They sell vehicles in 35 countries and is an automotive group founded by William C. Durant, the same founder of GMC. They’ve been the largest automaker from 1931 through 2007.
Current automotive brands include Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, Wuling, and Holden. Former brands include McLaughlin, Daewoo, Oakland, Hummer, Oldsmobile, Saturn, Saab, Opel, and Vauxhall.
They’ve also participated in other ventures, outside of the automotive world. These included Euclid and Terex, maker of construction vehicles, Electro-Motive Diesel, a diesel engine manufacturer, and Detroit Diesel, also a diesel engine producer. Some other business ventures that have been under the GM brand include Allison, Frigidaire, New Departure, Delco Electronics, ACDelco, GMAC, General Aviation and North American Aviation, GM Defense, and Electronic Data Systems.
The GMC logo uses the initials from its parent, General Motors Company. It might be one of the simplest car logos around, but it’s recognized globally. Looking at the logo, it’s easy to remember that this company creates some of the best trucks and SUVs on the market. Many people agree that while the logo is simple, it’s also a representative of tough and durable.
Rich Latek is the United States Marketing Director for GMC. He aided the company through their broadest advertising campaign rollout in 15 years during 2015. It was GM’s effort of raising awareness for the truck and SUV brand by building on its reputation for craftsmanship.
The new ad campaigns focused on appealing to the emotional side of consumers. The long-running campaign used the “We Are Professional Grade” tagline.
What’s unique about this series of ads is that they didn’t highlight the amenities or utility of the brand. The first commercial asked if people wanted to live an adequate life. Then, they asserted that GMC owners prefer to live their lives “like a boss, like a rebel, like a standard-bearer, like a pro.”
Another popular ad in the series, titled, “Dad Like a Pro, “featured a younger boy mimicking his father. It showcased the boy using a ride-on version of a Sierra Denali crew cab. The ad debuted on Father’s Day during the U.S. Open golf tournament and was cast with a real father and son team.
There was another commercial which used the phrase, “Third Row Like a Pro” to showcase the seven-person capacity of the Acadia crossover. These ads added humanity to the brand and connected with consumers on a deeper, more emotional level.
Will Arnett, a famous actor, has been the long-standing voice in the GMC commercials. He’s most recognized for saying, “It’s not more than you need, just more than you’re used to” in the ads. At one time, Arnett planned to be the voice of K.I.T.T. in a sequel to the 1980s series Knight Rider. Because the show used a Ford Mustang, GM requested that Arnett pull back from the project. Arnett agreed and turned the role over to Val Kilmer instead.
The General Motors Heritage Center is located in Sterling Height, Michigan. It’s the location that showcases numerous GM vehicles, including several GMC-branded. They also have a corporate conferencing center and special events venue. Their collection includes historical literature and artifacts that document the history of the brand. The center measures 81,000 square-feet and displays more than 165 vehicles.
While the museum isn’t open for public visits, it’s easily reserved for special events, meetings, conferences, and group tours. A few of the GMC vehicles on display include the 1945 Tanker, 1951 Canopy Express, and the 1956 GMC Suburban Express.
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. also has a 1949 GMC Pickup Truck on display. It was owned by Ira Wertman who was a farmer from Andreas, Pennsylvania. He grew vegetables and fruits and then took them with him in his truck to sell to the coal miners in Allentown. The museum describes the history of pickup trucks and how they offered aid to many activities. The previous pickup trucks looked like modified automobiles, but after the war, it shows how trucks became more powerful, larger, and able to carry more significant loads.
At the International Towing Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee, there’s also a 1958 GMC Truck on display. In addition, they feature several other GM vehicles such as the 1948 COE Chevrolet.
GMC Financial offers consumers the ability to pay for GMC trucks on sale. They provide unique solutions for consumers looking to invest in a GMC for lease. All financing on GMC trucks for sale goes through GM Financial, located in Fort Worth, Texas.
GMC offers several discount incentives, more than most automakers. The GM Family First program is for employees and their immediate family members. The Supplier Discount takes the price down for employees of supplier companies. There’s also a dealership employee discount, valid for any GM dealership employee. Outside of employees, there are also incentives for military members or veterans, educators, college students or graduates, and first responders.
There are also several GMC Protection Plans available to consumers. These include GAP Protection to cover the financing in case of a complete loss. Other plans include Tire and Wheel Protection, Appearance Guard, a Pre-Paid Maintenance Plan, XS Wear Lease Protection, and Advanced Lease Protection.
When consumers purchase a GMC for sale or lease a new vehicle, there’s a warranty placed on the vehicle. These all run through the financial department as well. The powertrain comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty. During that time, consumers have access to transportation if the vehicle needs repairs. They also include Roadside Assistance during this time. In addition, there is a bumper-to-bumper and corrosion warranty for 3-years/36,000 miles. There is even a rust protection warranty for 6-years/100,000 miles. The guarantees include two maintenance visits on all new vehicles.
Most GMC dealerships exist on their own, apart from other GM brands. When looking for a GMC dealer, it helps to know what to look for. While the GMC deals might be the same from varying locations, the service and support consumers receive isn’t. That’s why it’s helpful to look for a dealer that’s been given awards from the company.
The GM Mark of Excellence Award is one to look for. This prestigious honor is presented to the top-performing dealers in the country. To win it, they must exceed divisional sales and rate high in customer satisfaction as well as dealer maintenance and service. Another place to look is the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence listing. While there are several GM dealers listed there currently, none of the GMC locations made the rankings.
Dealerships also offer My GMC Rewards to consumers. The reward program helps drivers earn rewards for oil changes, tune-ups, and the purchase of Connected Services or OnStar plans. Then, the points can be spent on parts or accessories like a tonneau cover.
They also offer service and maintenance from certified experts. They know the GMC vehicles better than anyone and are equipped to handle simple tasks like oil changes all the way through a full engine replacement. They’re provided the latest diagnostic equipment to ensure that all vehicles run at their best. With the OnStar Advanced Diagnostics, the experts inform drivers of the vehicle’s health status. Their myGMC mobile app also provides real-time diagnostic information on the key systems.
5 Interesting Facts about GMC
1 – By 1912, the newly created GMC division of GM produced 20,000 vehicles.
2 – Jessica Alba was known for going out in town in her GMC Yukon. This American actress spoke highly of the full-size SUV saying that it had room for the whole family, shopping, and dogs.
3 – GMC is known for creating some of the world’s first electric vehicles. From 1912 through 1917, they used single-digit model names that denoted the load capacity, between one-half-ton through 12 tons.
4 – GMC has been successful in the Middle East, but that’s the only region outside of North America that the brand is sold.
5 – The GMC Suburban was the first SUV from the brand. Its released was in 1937 and it was also known as the Yukon XL. Other SUVs followed, such as the Sierra in 1962 and the Jimmy in 1970.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is GMC a Chevy? They are both automakers part of the GM Company. They are mainly identical, but Chevrolet sells more vehicles. The difference between the two companies is that GMC only manufacturers trucks, vans, and SUVs. There are also slight differences in the emblems, grilles, visuals, and interiors. Overall, the GMC brand comes more equipped and is considered more luxurious.
Which is better GMC or Chevy? They are mainly identical and created of the same materials. The only difference that matters is that the GMC brand tends to have more equipment inside the cabin than a Chevy would. This makes them better equipped, but also raises the price slightly.
Where are GMCs made? They utilize several GM plants in North America for production. There are five in the United States located in Michigan, Missouri, Texas, and Indiana. They also have an additional plant in Mexico and one in Canada.
Does GMC make cars? No. GMC only manufacturers vans, trucks, and SUVs. Chevrolet is the brand which produces passenger cars.
What does GMC stand for? Currently, it stands for General Motors Company, which is a division of GM. At one time, it might have been used to represent the Grabowsky Motor Company instead.