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GMC's 2021 Sierra pickup to have new technology, price adjustment

General Motors wants to squash two of the top anxiety-invoking situations pickup drivers encounter when towing.

So the automaker is introducing: Jack-Knife Alert and trailer-length indicator technologies to the light-duty and heavy-duty version of the 2021 GMC Sierra pickup.

The 2021 GMC Sierra will have new technology called the jack-knife alert on it. It tracks the position of the trailer in relation to the pickup. If the front of the trailer approaches the rear of the pickup, an alert is displayed that there could be a jack-knife situation.

"Jack-Knife Alert will detect how close the trailer is to the rear of the pickup and alert you to a potential jackknife situation so you can take corrective action," said Duncan Aldred, global vice president of Buick GMC. "This is the thing that gives pickup drivers the most anxiety."

Besides the technology, the pickups will come in new colors, have some enhancements to existing technology and the diesel engine Sierra comes down in price.

Better existing technology

The Jack-Knife Alert tracks the position of the trailer in relation to the pickup. If the front of the trailer approaches the rear of the pickup, an alert is displayed that there could be a jackknife situation.

The trailer-length indicator, when enabled and driving forward with the turn signal activated, will display on the center console screen a red overlay twice the length of the trailer to indicate when other vehicles may interfere with a lane change.

GMC developed the technologies because more than half of Sierra customers use their pickups to tow, said GMC Marketing Director Rich Latek. That will only grow, Latek said, citing a recent study by the RV Industry Association that found more than 46 million Americans are planning to take an RV trip in the next year.

The 2021 Sierra pickups will also keep existing technology, but it will be better.

Rear Trailer View: This is enhanced to include guidelines that assist when backing a trailer into place. There is a trailer-angle indicator to show the relationship between the truck and trailer. The rear trailer view requires the customer-installed GM auxiliary accessory camera.

Rear Side View enhancement: When driving forward in the current Sierra, rear side view provides a split view of the left and right sides of the pickup and trailer. In the 2021 Sierra, drivers will have access to this view while driving in reverse.

Cargo Bed View enhancement: New cargo bed zoom view and bed hitch guidance are available, which align and hook up a gooseneck/fifth-wheel trailer.

There will be more MultiPro Tailgate SLE and Elevation trims available and a new selection of colors next year, too.

New colors available for 2021 Sierra pickups:

--Cayenne Red Tintcoat

--Hunter Metallic

--Brownstone Metallic (not offered on heavy-duty)

--Ebony Twilight Metallic

Also new on the Sierra 1500 AT4 version are 20-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires and an off-road high-clearance step.

A price reduction

Aldred said the Sierra is the "fastest turning truck in the industry, it has the lowest inventory of any of the truck brands in the industry and it's growing faster than any other brands."

The 3.0-Liter Duramax Turbo-Diesel version of the Sierra light-duty is helping to attract new customers, he said.

"Over half of the people buying the diesel are new to the GMC brand," Aldred said.

The diesel provides 460 pound-feet of torque and an estimated 30 mpg on the highway. The diesel engine is available on the Denali, AT4, SLT, Elevation and SLE trims. For 2021, customers will see a $1,500 price reduction when selecting the engine. That will put it at $995 above the starting price of the Sierra 1500's 5.3-liter V-8, the standard engine for those trims. It is a substantial discount considering the diesel engine presently costs about $2,500 more than the V-8.

Additionally, GMC will make surround vision and bed view camera technology standard on the heavy-duty Denali. The Black Diamond Edition of the Denali will have several unique features, including exclusive 20-inch, high-gloss black wheels and new power-retractable assist steps.

Similar to the light-duty, the Sierra heavy-duty AT4 will now have available 18-inch mud terrain tires and an available off-road high clearance step.

GMC's 'healthy opportunity'

The Sierra is a key vehicle in the GMC lineup helping propel the brand's sales momentum.

For the first half of the year, GMC's market share is up 0.2% compared with the year-ago period, Aldred said. The Sierra has had the best first-half sales in 15 years, he said, adding, "We're not doing this by discounting. We're doing this by staying true to the brand."

During a media round table last week, Aldred said the average transaction price across the brand's lineup is now 30% higher than the industry average — for GMC it is at $46,562. That is a 5.5% increase through June compared to the first-half of last year.

But inventory levels for the Sierra, and another of GMC's hot-sellers — the redesigned 2021 Yukon full-sized SUV — are thin.

The average day supply on dealer lots of Sierra light-duty pickups is 20 days and for heavy-duty just 18 days, Aldred said. Typically, dealers would have a 90-day supply of pickups, Aldred said, though he noted the entire auto industry is off right now.

Most automakers lost about eight weeks of production as they shut down their plants in North America between March and May to protect workers as the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation.

"Most Sierras arrive at dealers presold," Aldred said. "It's one of the hottest vehicles in the industry right now. We're never going to let off the gas. We're managing the business very carefully and we're continuing to sell and turn these exceptionally quickly. It's a healthy opportunity that we have here."

Sub-brands drive sales

For June, the Sierra's total retail sales shot up 6% year-over-year. GM releases sales results only on a quarterly basis, but Aldred said, "The performance remains very strong" for the pickup's sales.

GMC's two sub-brands, the AT4 and Denali, are driving sales and boosting average transaction prices, Aldred said. The AT4, available on the light-duty Sierra, is the "off-road ready" version of the vehicle and Denali offers premium luxury. GMC will offer AT4 across all of its vehicles starting next year.

The average transaction price for a 2020 Sierra light-duty pickup is $47,489 and for the heavy-duty it is about $65,000, Aldred said.

The Denali comprises 25% of all GMC retail vehicles sold. Aldred said he expects GMC will sell about 140,000 Denali trims by year-end. That's key to the brand's profits given the average transaction price for a Denali is $57,218.

Aldred expects AT4 and Denali comprise 40% to 50% of all vehicles GMC sells in the future.

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