GM expects to begin producing GMC Envoys in January
NEW YORK (AP) _ General Motors Corp. said Wednesday it expects to begin production of its new GMC Envoy sport utility vehicle in January with luxury compact models reaching dealer showrooms as early as February.
The Envoy has been designed to compete with the Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Edition and the Mercedes M-Class.
It is expected to appeal to owners of regular sport utility vehicles who want added features as well as to owners of luxury automobiles, according to Jeff Cohen, brand manager for compact GMC sport utility vehicles.
The price of the Envoy has yet to be determined, but it is expected to be within the luxury segment’s range of $33,000 to $40,000.
Cohen said about 250,000 to 300,000 luxury compact sport utility vehicles are sold each year and that the luxury segment is the fastest-growing part of the category. He declined to say what GM’s sales goals are for the GMC Envoy.
Among standard features are leather seating, a Bose sound system, high-intensity headlights and a built-in air compressor for beach balls and other recreation equipment.
The Envoy will be built at GM’s plant in Moraine, Ohio.
GMC already has three other sport utility vehicles led by the compact Jimmy that starts selling at $27,000 to $30,000 and the full-size Yukon and Suburban which are priced starting in the $28,000 to $32,000 range.
A luxury version of the Yukon, the Yukon Denali, will also begin production in January and GMC has said it will be priced starting at about $43,500. It will be made in Arlington, Texas.
The GMC Envoy was displayed Wednesday as GM showed reporters its newly-remodeled Manhattan showroom on Fifth Avenue near Central Park.
GM also announced it had signed a nine-year deal with the toy retailer FAO Schwarz that will include promoting GM vehicles in the retailer’s stores and developing auto-related toys, apparel and other merchandise.
The deal makes GM the exclusive automotive promotional partner of the 40-store chain. The 1998 GMC Envoy will be designated as the ``FAO Schwarz Official Big Kids’ Toy.″