GMC dealers can expect increased availability of high-end Yukon Denali models this year.
Lynn Myers, marketing general manager for Pontiac-GMC, told dealers at their make meeting that 30 percent of Yukon production will be Denalis, up from 26 percent last year.
The Yukon Denali starts at $49,570, while the next priciest Yukon, the XL three-quarter-ton, two-wheel-drive SLT, has a base price of $43,010. GMC sold 76,488 Yukons last year, as well as 67,556 Yukon XLs.
GMC dealers also have the opportunity to boost volume with the mid-cycle enhancement of the Sierra and the new Envoy XUV with a retractable roof over the cargo area. Myers said there is no drop in demand for GMC pickups or SUVS.
"We haven't seen any slackening off in volume," she said. "Our dealers are ordering more utilities - full-sized and mid-sized."
Myers also said GMC is "looking at a few things" to freshen the Envoy mid-sized SUV within a few years.
Pontiac, meanwhile, will see its car lineup almost totally refreshed in 24 months beginning with the introduction of the Vibe last year. The new Grand Prix, GTO, Bonneville GXP and Grand Am will follow. Myers would not comment on the expected Sunfire replacement on General Motors' new Delta small-car platform.
Pontiac wants to combine more sophisticated styling with enhanced performance, attracting higher-income and more-educated buyers, she said.
"As we look down the road, we need to make Pontiac a more aspirational brand again," Myers said.
But dealers can expect little sales boost from the Pontiac Aztek SUV. In 2002, the Aztek fell short of Pontiac's goal of 30,000 sales, selling 27,793, Myers said, and that's where it's likely to stay: "I think the volume of the Aztek is probably going to center around 28,000 to 30,000."
Pontiac dealers also heard about performance gear coming this model year for the Vibe; but there still was no confirmation at the make meeting that GM will build the rear-wheel-drive Solstice roadster.
Dealer Stephen Qua of Qua Buick in Shaker Heights, Ohio, said dealers were told that a Vibe supercharger and a spoiler will be offered. The equipment will bolster Pontiac's identity as a performance division, particularly with the import fans that the Vibe is attracting, he said.
"The Vibe is bringing a different buyer into our stores," Qua said. "It's a new person that we haven't seen before."
But James Ursomarso, manager of Union Park Inc., a dealership group in Wilmington, Del., said the performance accessories probably are aimed at West Coast buyers. Ursomarso said the Vibe is his Pontiac store's best-selling vehicle, but not to young buyers.