Hundreds of Chevrolet dealers are preparing their stores for what could be one of the most significant boosts for their fixed operations business in a decade.
"There is a huge amount of business that's been waiting for us to get back into this market and business," said Mike Bowsher, chairman of the Chevrolet National Dealer Council.
Bowsher, owner of Carl Black Automotive Group, in Kennesaw, Ga., is one of more than 400 Chevy dealers who have agreed to sell medium-duty commercial trucks, including new Chevrolet Silverado 4500HD, 5500HD and 6500HD trucks that are scheduled to go into production in early December.
Dealers across the country — from Carl Black's Chevrolet stores in Georgia to Silveira Chevrolet in Sonoma, Calif. — have been anticipating the arrival of such trucks for months, if not years.
"Those of us who lost medium-duty in the past, we lost a lot of service business, and we lost a lot of gross profit due to those sales going away," Bowsher said.
GM exited the medium-duty segment as part of its 2009 bankruptcy, allowing Ford Motor Co. to increase its commercial leadership position and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Ram to expand its business.
Many Chevy dealers re-established medium-duty operations two years ago to support the brand's low-cab-forward trucks, but the Silverado medium-duty trucks are expected to be the bread and butter of Chevy's new commercial lineup.
"We have a number of dealers that are going to grow their facility for either stocking or service or just building an adjacent building for the expansion," said John Schwegman, director of commercial product and medium duty at GM Fleet. "It's not about what's the minimum requirement. It's about 'How do I maximize my return for this opportunity?' because they see it as a significant opportunity."