"Two years ago we would have told you the segment is going to go to a million vehicles. It's not going to do that. It's leveled off," Lutz said. "I think we may maintain our volume at other people's expense, even if the segment shrinks a little bit."
Because of that, GM is not putting all of its eggs in one basket.
"We love the full-sized sport utilities because they are such a huge percentage of our total profit," Lutz said. "We also worry about full-sized sport utilities because they are such a substantial percentage of our total profit.
"While we welcome their profitability, we do everything we can to reduce any level of dependence."
Jeff Schuster, an analyst at J.D. Power and Associates in Troy, Mich., said GM is "hedging on the SUV market."
"We see a rebound for the segment, but that has to be coupled with stable gas prices and other products coming out," Schuster said. "I think GM needs to be proud of what a full-sized SUV is. And they're going to be new in a segment that has fallen out of favor. It might breathe a little life back into it."
On the technology side, GM says its new SUVs, built on the company's GMT 900 architecture, will offer a number of advantages, including: Increased horsepower and better fuel economy -- 20.5 mpg (combined) on a Tahoe vs. 19.5 mpg on the current-generation Tahoe -- with the addition of cylinder deactivation and six-speed transmissions. A windshield angle of 57 degrees improves the aerodynamic performance to a segment-best 0.363 drag co-efficient. Better ride and handling with wider front and rear tracks and an all-new fully boxed frame, which offers 49 percent increased torsional stiffness. More refined interiors with flush fits and noise-reducing, premium materials. GM says it benchmarked the best, including the richness of a 2002 Audi interior for the Cadillac Escalade. Luxury touches such as power-assisted liftgates, power fold-and-tumble second-row seats, power running boards and touch screen navigation.
GM says its Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade will be available in the first quarter next year. The Chevrolet Suburban and Avalanche, Yukon XL Denali, Escalade ESV and EXT will be available in the second quarter next year.
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