GM missed a golden opportunity. Is there still hope?
The good news about the Chevrolet Blazer is its popularity. The bad news is it's called the Blazer. Following last week's reveal of the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco following a 25-year market absence, it became clearer than ever GM missed out on a golden opportunity.
Launching a new and sporty-looking mid-size crossover made perfect sense a couple of years ago and the sales figures continue to prove this. Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Blazer sales increased 68 percent year on year for the second quarter of 2020. The thing is, GM was lazy with the Blazer. How so? It named it Blazer. Out of all potential nameplates, the automaker's product planners chose one that was previously and famously given to a true SUV that happened to be the Bronco's longtime rival years ago.
The Bronco's reveal and the excitement surrounding it is proof GM wasted valuable branding capital.
Instead of a three-way Jeep Wrangler-Ford Bronco-Chevy Blazer off-road battle, it's only a two-vehicle fight. Today's car-based Blazer doesn't stand a chance against either. Ford's long-term Bronco plans are extensive, evidenced by the so-called "Bronco family" consisting of the two- and four-door body styles and the Escape-based Bronco Sport. Chevrolet could have done the same or something similar, and it's not like it doesn't know how to capitalize on a historic nameplate. There's reportedly talk of expanding the Corvette name for a performance-focused SUV. Heck, it could possibly be an all-electric SUV to compete directly against the Ford Mustang Mach-E.
And there it is again - Ford's ability to recognize a huge opportunity and run with it. So what if the Mustang nameplate is now attached to an EV, and an SUV at that. Sales have been through the roof and not a single Mach-E has arrived in dealerships yet.
It's the same deal for the Bronco. For example, Ford is even doubling the initial 3,500-unit planned run of Bronco First Editions. The starting price? Around $60,000. All GM and Chevy can do now is watch Ford's success from the sidelines. Is it too late for GM to re-enter the retro SUV battle against Ford and Jeep? Probably not. It's not like GM is lacking an available platform (see: Chevy Colorado). But doing so could seem more like a desperate attempt rather than from a position of strength.
With the Blazer nameplate now used on a crossover that's unworthy of it, what else is there? The Trailblazer? It's too late for that, as once again, the Trailblazer nameplate has been used on a unibody crossover instead of a body-on-frame off-roader as it was in its previous iteration.
There's still one shred of hope: a new GMC Jimmy. Will GM seize this or waste it?