Automobile

Trailblazer, with low price point, aims to lift brand

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DETROIT — By killing the Chevrolet Cruze last year and now the Sonic in a few months, General Motors is leaving itself with just two vehicles that start at less than $20,000.

That includes the new Trailblazer, which aims to put Chevy on more consumers’ radars by landing in one of the industry’s fastest-growing segments: small crossovers.

The Trailblazer complements the Trax, which posted a 30 percent U.S. sales gain last year but is too small for some buyers, by giving Chevy a roomier option with a more mature look. And unlike the Trax, it was designed from the ground up with U.S. consumers top of mind.

“We’re thinking the Trailblazers are going to catch on in a big way,” said Paul Waatti, industry analyst at AutoPacific.

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In the second quarter, Chevy sold 6,699 Trailblazers, which just started reaching dealerships in March. It’s already more popular than GM’s other sub-$20,000 entry, the Spark, which logged 5,311 sales in the quarter.

Without potential delays related to the coronavirus pandemic, AutoPacific predicts the Trailblazer soon will outsell its competition.

Although the Trailblazer has the lowest starting price of any GM crossover, the Trax sells for less on average because it’s older and has big incentives available on it. Chevy says the Trailblazer’s average transaction price is about $23,000, and early orders for the RS trim, the highest level offered, were double Chevy’s forecast.

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With a starting price of less than $20,000, “initially it might take away some sales from the Trax, but I think they can live side by side, like the [Buick] Encore and the Encore GX,” said Waatti.

The base trim in many vehicles typically makes up only 5 to 10 percent of the volume mix, said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. But the accessible price point is an effective marketing tactic to draw more customers to the brand, she said.

“It gives people a mindset to know when they can come in and start looking. It ends up being really important in terms of consumer shopping and making sure you are on consideration sets,” she said.

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