Americans love trucks. Enough said.
The vast majority of carmakers are highly susceptible to changes in the economic climate as well as to the ebbs and flows in car demand. And while the industry is currently going through a downturn thanks to lower demand for new cars, the American truck market seems to be insulated from this fluctuation. It's why, after falling into third place by losing its second-place spot to Ram in the latter part of 2018, GM is still reporting that sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra were up 20% in the first quarter of 2019 when compared to the same time last year.
Demand is only projected to increase, which is why GM has just announced that it's investing $24 million into its Fort Wayne, Indiana truck plant in order to expand the factory's ability to produce more Silverados and Sierras.
Having to expand production due to such high demand certainly makes third place a more cozy place to be, especially when most of the demand spike comes from customers wanting more expensive Crew Cab truck variants.
"We are building Chevrolet and GMC crew cab pickups at record volume and mix levels to meet customer demand and the $24 million investment will allow us to build even more," said Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO. "The team here at Fort Wayne has done an outstanding job helping us satisfy customers throughout this launch. Our product ramp-up was very smooth and the quality has been exceptional. Crew cab sales have been very strong, and we are expanding customer choice with new models, more cab choices and innovative new powertrains."
$24 million is not an astronomical figure for an auto giant, but the cash will help cover the cost of new conveyors and other tooling equipment to help the plant meet demand. That would bring the grand total of GM's investment into the Fort Wayne plant to $1.2 billion alone since 2015. GM's combined total investment in American manufacturing sits at $23 billion since 2009, making up a quarter of every dollar spent in the country by automakers.
Perhaps its the fact GM's money is (wisely) being used to bolster its high-profit and high-volume truck wing that's causing the General to go back to its badge engineering ways and build two nearly identical cars under different marquees, like the new Buick Encore GX and Chevy Trailblazer.