It must be tough writing for an audience that doesn't know much about half the auto industry (light-duty trucks accounted for 50.1 percent of the 2011 sales--in 2010 it was 48.3 percent); namely pickup trucks.
Automotive News Senior Product Editor, Rick Kranz, wrote in his blog, "it's no secret that General Motors is redesigning its full-sized pickups. But does that mean all of GM's upcoming pickups will be extensively re-engineered?"
I suppose if you had no idea that the light-duty and heavy-duty GM trucks have been built on different frames for decades, you might think that a truck designed to carry 1300 pounds could be the same truck designed to carry 3300 pounds. For those of us that do understand the differences, this is more likely to feel like a "duh" moment than anything else.
Regardless, Rick Kranz is one of the big Detroit insiders that has access to insider information from dozens of angles; as a result, we usually listen to what he has to say closely.
He continues: "GM's new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups are slated to hit dealer lots next year. The trucks will offer better fuel economy, the result of improved aerodynamics, an eight-speed automatic transmission, less mass, engine improvements and other changes. A new chassis is expected, and the exterior and interior will be totally changed."
Alright, this last sentence seems like a throw away because, of course, the new light-duty will be new inside and out. It has to be. Both Ford and Ram have come to market with complete revamped powertrains and significant design changes and a number of interior packaging upgrades. We can safely assume the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra has waited this long to do something major.
Some have speculated that the two trucks will become more distinct, even suggesting there will be two different frames, possibly two separate lines in each plant, in order to allow for more handling and packaging distinction. Others can't believe that GM has allowed the two very similar product lines to continue to exist this long, but they both are quite profitable and GMC is clearly a brand on the rise (although this is the first year Jeep has sold more GMCs). It's a hard argument to make that someone should go into a proven product line strategy and completely change it to make it more like the competition (neither Ford nor Ram Truck has a premium-level of pickup trucks, but both are desperately trying to continuously expand their product bandwidth to capture with special upper-crust option packages).
Kranz goes on to say in 2010, the Silverado and Sierra 2500 and 3500, GM's heavy-duty models, received a long list of foundational engineering improvements -- a new chassis, significant suspension and steering changes, plus a re-engineered diesel engine. Aside from a new hood and some minor tweaks to the grille and front fascia, however, most people (who are truck people) couldn't tell this was a substantially different pickup. Even the interior was a carry-over, he says. And finishes with, "The redesigned lighter-duty pickups arriving next year will not take this same strategy and will offer a more dramatic appearance change."
Certainly, that all makes sense.
Mr. Kranz continues to give information about the next-gen heavy-duty trucks, after we get the new light-duties sometime next year: "As for the "new" heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 models, they will arrive a year or so later with a good portion of the major changes being cosmetic -- new sheet metal and interior treatments."
That certainly makes sense, as well, given the extent to which they re-engineered the 2500/3500s in 2010. And although we've heard nothing about it at the Detroit Show, we suppose the possibility exists that a 4500/5500 model could also be in our future as well.
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