Although the company controls about three-quarters of the large SUV market in the United States, General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) family of body-on-frame utilities like the Tahoe and Suburban have been fighting a rather significant downside: They can be stolen quite easily by car thieves who know what they’re doing.
Case in point, The Detroit News reports that a couple of months ago, thieves disconnected the lights at the Simi Valley Chevrolet dealership north of Los Angeles and proceeded to break through the back windows of 16 Chevrolet Suburbans and Tahoes parked in the inventory lot and make off with the third-row seat from each, which can be sold as replacements. The worst part? On 16 different vehicles, not a single alarm sounded throughout the entire ordeal.
“They just unclamped the third row seat and pushed them out the back window and off they went,” Simi Valley general manager Steve Gaines told The Detroit News, adding that it cost the dealer about $3,000 per vehicle, or around $48,000 in total.
Because of their proneness to theft — whether it’s the back seats, wheels, or the entire car itself — Suburbans and Tahoes have become increasingly expensive to insure. The Tahoe, Suburban, and their GMC counterparts all appear on the top 10 most stolen vehicles list.
To help remedy the issue, General Motors added a $395 “enhanced security” option that offers a slate of additional features on top of standard functions for the 2015 models of the Tahoe and Suburban. Naturally, these will carry over to the GMC and Cadillac models, too.
“We’ve put a lot of technology into improving the security for our customers, everything from our glass breaking sensors in the quarter glass area to … interior movement sensors,” Jeff Luke, the executive chief engineer for GM’s global trucks, told The Detroit News. GM Global Vehicle Security chief Bill Biondo says to the publication that GM’s package is the most “robust and significant theft deterrent package in the market.”
For 2015, a standard steering column lock will be added to the Suburban and Tahoe; it can already be found on the GMC Yukon.
Biondo said additional features will include improved exterior lighting when customers approach the vehicle, enhanced theft deterrents in the navigation systems, and bolted third-row seats that can’t easily be removed, The Detroit News reports. Side-milled keys will be more effective at preventing lock picking, and lock cylinders have been improved to make it harder to gain unauthorized access.
The interior will also be outfitted with motion-sensing alarms. Currently, if someone breaks a window, the alarm won’t be triggered. “Most alarms on 95 to 99 percent of the products in the U.S. today only sound based on the latches,” Biondo said to The Detroit News. “You have to unlatch the door and the alarm will go off. If you break the window, the alarm will never go off.”
The added security features will ultimately lead to lower insurance premiums on the vehicles as theft and damage rates decrease. Biondo notes that this will provide more value for General Motors’ customers.
“We talked to customers and they expressed a lot of interest in security,” he told the publication. “And some customers perhaps based on where they live or where they frequent expressed the desire to be able to purchase additional security.”