NEW YORK - In the size game, will General Motors ever try to top the Ford Excursion?
At the New York International Auto Show, GM executives seemed to be saying, 'Don't hold your breath.'
During a showing of the Chevrolet Suburban last week at Grand Central Station, GM took several sly digs at the Excursion's outsized dimensions. The 2000 Suburban was driven onstage through a fake commercial garage door with a warning sign that said, 'Low Clearance.'
Then GM showed a videotape of the Suburban eluding a variety of obstacles commonly found on New York City streets. Finally, GM executives offered some not-so-subtle hints that they do not believe the market for automotive behemoths is a large one.
'Our customers are not begging us to make the Suburban seven inches longer,' said Kurt Ritter, Chevrolet's marketing general manager. The Excursion, due in showrooms Sept. 30, is 7 inches longer than the 2000 Suburban.
Ford Division said it expects to sell a substantial 60,000 Excursions annually.
About 90 percent of Suburbans sold are half-ton trucks, and only 10 percent are three-quarter-ton trucks, Ritter said. Those who buy the beefier Suburbans need extra towing capacity. For everyday tasks, a bigger Suburban would be too ungainly, he asserted.
For example, the average garage door is 84 inches high, and the actual clearance is even less. With a height of 75.4 inches and a length of 219.3 inches, even the four-wheel-drive version of the Suburban still fits in most garages.
GM also believes women drivers place a high premium on a vehicle's maneuverability. The redesigned 2000 Suburban's turning radius is 2 feet shorter than that of the current one.