GM Leaves the Medium-Duty Market

Last June, I had the opportunity to test drive all the new vehicles being offered for 2008 by General Motors Fleet and Commercial Division. Judging by the presence of at least a dozen Kodiaks and Topkicks at the fleet preview event, you never could have guessed that GM would announce, less than a year later, that it planned to sell off its medium-duty truck operations to competitor Navistar, the parent company of International Truck & Engine. Apparently, GM is using logic similar to that used by Ford when it sold its medium-duty truck business to Freightliner LLC a few years back. Ford needed cash to acquire Volvo cars; GM wants to concentrate on its passenger car and light truck businesses. All well and good, but over the past few years Ford has been inching its way back into the relatively strong medium-duty truck market; I wonder if GM will someday regret this move and follow Ford back into the arena. And what will this mean to truck buyers who deal with International? Will International's CityStar, built in a joint venture with Ford, be sold alongside the newly-badged International Topkick? Will the new trucks run on Isuzu or International engines? Apparently, this move makes good business sense to GM, but in the long run, it could hurt fleets, by taking away a few more product choices.