At prices that compete with Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar, Denali models make up about a third of GMC's sales. AT4, introduced on the Sierra light-duty trucks last year, makes up a significantly smaller share because it is still rolling out on the rest of GMC's lineup. Targeting the luxury end of the pickup market is key to GMC's success.
AT4 customers, who are on average eight years younger than typical Denali buyers, told the brand they didn't want a pickup that's lifted too high or that has bulky tires, but they wanted the capability those trucks offer, Brook said.
GMC listened and, in place of traditional chrome, gave the AT4 a matte smoke chrome finish called "Knight Rider."
"That gave this really neat look, something fresh and unique, and it was something they were after with the minimal chrome," Zipfel said.
The AT4 trim is available on the light- and heavy-duty Sierra and the 2020 Acadia. It will be available on the Yukon, Canyon and Terrain in the next 12 months, Brook said. It competes with the Ram Rebel TRX off-road concept and the Ford F-150 Raptor.
The average transaction price for the Sierra AT4 is $54,000, about $4,000 less than the average price of the Sierra Denali. The average transaction price on all models with the Denali trim is also $54,000.
So far this year, the average Denali price sits between industry leader Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar, said GM, citing J.D. Power PIN data. Brook expects Denali to surpass the German brand by year end.
The truck market is "a bimodal kind of a segment," said Brook. "There's good value at the end of the segment, which is where a lot of work trucks [are] and there's some good fleet business to be had. The midsection is a little bit softer, but then [there is] a lot of opportunity at the premium end of the market."
From 2015 to 2018, overall GMC sales were flat, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Sierra sales fell 2 percent during the same period.
The average household income is $154,000 for Denali customers and $138,000 for AT4 buyers, according to GMC.
In the last four years, sales of heavy-duty pickups over $60,000 across all brands have tripled, according to GM. "That's GMC's wheelhouse, and that's where we're going to focus," Brook said.