Chevy to bury Avalanche

Chevrolet announced this morning that the Chevrolet Avalanche will end its run with the 2013 model year. Chevy also announced a special edition Black Diamond Avalanche. Black Diamond Avalanches will feature body-colored bed surrounds, a unique badge on the sail panel, additional features on LS and LT models, and lower prices across the lineup.

“More than 580,000 Avalanches have been sold since its introduction in 2001, and Avalanche has won major awards and recognitions throughout its run,” said Mark Clawson, Avalanche marketing manager. “So it is only fitting that Avalanche retires on a high note.”

“The Chevrolet Avalanche was one of the earliest forays into re-inventing the traditional pickup truck, said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst, Edmunds.com. “It was a vehicle that maintained the traditional truck image and capability but was more versatile for the person buying it for personal use more than work – a lifestyle truck more than a work truck. Other variations on the theme from competitors followed the Avalanche’s debut.”

Originally a concept presented at the 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Avalanche and its clone, the Cadillac Escalade EXT, were based on the Chevy Suburban platform. Unusual features included a “midgate” that allowed the owner to expand the cargo area by folding down the rear seats and mid-gate and removing a rear glass panel, opening the cab to the elements. In addition to creating thermoclines in the cab as air-conditioning and heating fought the great outdoors, the early midgate system also had problems with leaks and made the Avalanche and Escalade attractive to thieves. Another widespread problem was unsightly bleaching of the cladding applied to Avalanches from 2001 to 2003. GM did address these problems and owners have been generally pleased with their vehicles. The Avalanche was named Motor Trends’ Truck of the Year in 2002.

The Avalanche was supposed to help General Motors end Ford’s long reign as king of the pickups. While aggregate sales of the Avalanche, Escalade, Silverado and GMC Sierra often exceeded sales of the F-150, the Avalanche itself was usually more successful in cannibalizing Silverado sales than generating conquests from Ford and Dodge.

Avalanche sales peaked at 93,482 in 2003 and were gradually declining until 2007. In 2008, sales plunged 37.0 percent followed by a complete nosedive in 2009, when sales totaled 16,432, just 17.8 percent of peak sales. Sales have risen in the past couple of years but the market no longer justified development of a long-overdue replacement. Through the end of March 2012, Chevrolet has sold 589,719 Avalanches.

The Avalanche and Escalade did have a big impact on the full-size pickup market, making the crew cab a more popular body style than was previously the case: crew cabs now account for a majority of full-size pickup sales. They were also popular with those whose actual needs for a pickup’s utility were secondary to its usefulness as a family vehicle. Up until the recession and gas price crisis of 2007-2008, this segment of pickup buyers accounted for a large part of the rapid expansion of the U.S. pickup market.

“Although Avalanche sales have tapered off in recent years, as crew cabs have grown to dominate Silverado sales, we know there are many Avalanche enthusiasts among Chevy customers,” said Clawson. “The Black Diamond Avalanche is our way of saying ‘Thank you’ and making it just a little more attractive to own one more Avalanche.”


CHEVROLET AVALANCHE SALES HISTORY
Year Sales Change
2001 52,955 N/A
2002 89,372 68.8%
2003 93,482 4.6%
2004 80,566 -13.8%
2005 63,186 -21.6%
2006 57,076 -9.7%
2007 55,550 -2.7%
2008 35,003 -37.0%
2009 16,432 -53.1%
2010 20,515 24.8%
2011 20,088 -2.1%
Q1 2012 5,494 N/A
Total to Date 589,719