2017 proved a landmark year for GMC as it saw the delivery of the one millionth GMC vehicle from the Denali line – GMC’s premium package for its models. This marked a milestone in the Denali nameplate’s twenty-year history. Outside of North America, the Middle East is the only region GMC exports to, cementing the significance of the Arab countries in shaping the heritage of the GMC brand and Denali range alike.
Named after North America’s highest peak, the Denali badge first appeared in 1997, when GMC unveiled the Yukon Denali show vehicle. This one-off concept vehicle set the stage for the production of Yukon Denali, which went on sale in late 1998, which differed substantially from a conventional Yukon at the time.
A new front clip and unique body moldings lent the SUV a bold and strong presence, and monochromatic paint treatment added an air of sophistication, while distinctive polished chrome wheels provided an eye-catching accent. The show vehicle interior not only offered premium leather-appointed seating, but also a GPS navigation unit and hands-free cell phone integration.
With Yukon Denali, GMC aimed to rise above the standard of other American trucks and SUVs in the North American and the Middle East markets. In 2016, The Yukon Denali accounted for 60 percent of GMC Yukon sales in the UAE.
“The advent of Yukon Denali signaled a big shift, both in the industry and for GMC itself,” said Sajed Sbeih, Head of Brand, GMC, General Motors Middle East.
“GMC had a long-standing reputation for building strong, dependable trucks and SUVs that provide versatility and utility above anything else. With a premium-grade model, the Denali line greatly resonated and continues to do so with our customers, on a whole new level, especially in the Middle East,” Sbeih added.
If the original goal was to broaden the GMC range by entering – or even creating – the premium truck and SUV market, then Denali has certainly been a success. What originally started as a single model has since blossomed into an incredibly strong product line of its own. The Denali portfolio in the Middle East currently consists of three SUV models –the Yukon, Acadia and Terrain – in addition to GMC’s flagship truck, the Sierra Denali.
Denali models accounted for just over 25 percent of all GMC global retail sales in 2016. In the UAE alone, Denali made up 33 percent of all GMC vehicles sold in the country last year.
While much has changed in the past two decades, key Denali attributes – namely bold, striking design, elevated refinement, and advanced connectivity features – not only remain in place in today’s Denali models, but are stronger than ever.