By on January 14, 2010

According to our data, the full-size pickup segment declined by 29.4 percent last year. Of all full-sized pickups, the Chevy Silverado lost the most volume, dropping 32 percent and an eye-popping 148,521 units compared to 2008. GMC Sierra dropped 33.6 percent, or about 56k units. Overall, GM shed half a million pickup sales last year, as its total truck sales fell to 1.2 million. When you’re losing that kind of volume in a shrinking segment, you know it’s time for a hold-em-or-fold-em moment. According to the Detroit News, GM is doubling down on its full-sized truck ambitions, allocating “several hundred million” of your tax dollars towards a re-working of the GMT 900-based trucks.

A GM spokesman explains:

We’re not saying trucks are more important than small cars. In every segment we compete, we now have the money and resources to build the world’s best vehicles,

The main impetus for the move seems to be meeting fuel efficiency standards (24 mpg average for 2011 model light trucks) as much as addressing the hemorrhaging sales. Though new exteriors, interiors and aerodynamics are being promised, the new models won’t arrive for two or three years, which means GM’s trucks woes could drag on for some time.

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16 Comments on “Truck Thursday: GM Spending “Several Hundred Million” On Full-Size Truck Update...”


  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Hmm, maybe they should make a simpler lower-cost, lower bed truck that would appeal to the [much poorer] masses of the 2010s.

    And hows about a small diesel engine option?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Regulations keep changing for exhaust making it difficult to offer a diesel in the US.  It probably won’t happen till the exhaust standards stop fluctuating so much.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Between the current annual sales rate and GM’s bankruptcy I don’t think last year’s performance is any kind of indicator of the future. GM has always been a strong competitor in the light truck arena and obviously needs to refresh their products to remain so. Actually I think if GMC ceased to exist Chevy would surpass the F-150 as the number one seller which they already do if you combine Chevy and GMC numbers. Given the profitability of this segment and GM’s traditional strength in it IMO it is a wise decision to invest in updating their offerings.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Between Ford, RAM, and Chevy/GMC, GM’s trucks are kinda stale looking.  A few hundred million should buy an inexpensive reskin. Watch for a “Terrained” Sierra from GMC soon!

  • avatar
    mjz

    Between Ford, RAM, and Chevy/GMC, GM’s trucks are kinda stale looking.  A few hundred million should buy an inexpensive reskin. Watch for a “Terrained” Sierra from GMC soon!

    • 0 avatar
      Harleyflhxi

      Maybe I’m in the minority on this, but when I look at GM’s half-ton line up, compared to Ram and Ford, I see two things that stand out as BIG negatives… rear drum brakes and 4-speed automatic transmissions.
      For me, the rear drum brake thing is a deal-breaker.  I’m in the auto repair business and my experience shows me that vehicles with rear drum brakes are much more likely to have front brakes that wear faster, due to the rear drum brakes going out of adjustment.  Also, vehicles with four-wheel discs simply brake better.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Good…trucks equal profitability.
    And if GM is so bold as to put a small diesel in a 1/2 ton truck…Ford and Dodge may just as well turn off the lights now.
     
    Funny though…in their current ford, the Silverado already beats the F-150 (but that’s not that hard really)…I can’t imagine what a redesign will do…
    http://www.insideline.com/dodge/ram-pickup-1500/2009/2009-full-size-pickup-truck-comparison-test-and-video.html
     
     

  • avatar
    basho

    Why is it that people use “cheap” and “diesel” in the same sentence?  I can’t think of many diesel engine variants (in the USA) that are not a price premium over the gas alternative (especially in trucks).  Not to mention the new emissions requirements which necessitate a urea filter.   Have you priced out urea refills lately.   If you want a cheap truck then look at V6 engine options, not diesel.

  • avatar
    Bergwerk

    I haven’t seen any of these “let’s make fun of our competitors advantages” ads – let’s not forget the Ford “man step” -  in a while.  GM has come to the realization that making fun of competitive innovations only exacerbates the perception that your product is stale.  The segment where GM is most vulnerable is the Heavy Duty segment.  Chevy is already number three, Ram just introduced their new HD, and Ford – already the segment giant – has an new HD (complete with a game changing new diesel) in the wings.   GM still has solid overall truck sales but will loose volume to the innovators until they freshen their lines to be more competitive.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    GM doesn’t need to refresh the GMT-900 platform just yet. It’s still as good or better than anything else currently available. Look at how they own the 1/2 ton SUV market.  GM and Isuzu need to figure out how to drop a nice little 4 cylinder turbo diesel in a 1/2 ton chassis and make available in both their Pick-ups and SUVs.  I think there is alot more potential there than the 3/4 & 1 ton trucks where the power is great but the fuel economy dismal for a diesel powered vehicle.   

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I’m not a truck fan, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to spend “a few” hundred million dollars on redesigning a new 1/2 ton truck.

    Let’s say GM spends a billion on a redesign.  If they sell 250,000 units per year for 4 years (or 200,000 units/year for 5 years), that’s a million units, or $1000 per truck.  For a $40,000 truck, that’s 2.5% of the purchase price.  

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    See, I didn’t even know someone offered a heated steering wheel. For the he past few weeks I’d have been more interested in that than a mpg or two better.
    GM does an excellent job of highlighting their competitors’ features.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I worked on cars and stuff for many years, and as a bouncer for several, and was in many fights, and my hands hurt all the time, but especially when cold, and no, gloves don’t help all that much, even ridiculously expensive ones that are so hot that as soon as the heat starts blowing on the wheel/my hands, I have to take them off. A heated wheel would be up there on my list of gadgets I would have no problem paying extra to get. I even got this dopey heat pad thing that runs off 12V to see if that would work out, but it didn’t do a good job, and it failed soon anyway.

      I don’t care about Ipod interfaces or navigation (Always overpriced, and often awkward to use, my phone is better than a few I’ve played with recently), or the self parking thing, even though I admittedly stink at parallel parking, since I do it about two times a year, at most. But a hundred or so for a heated wheel, I’m there. My friend and his wife just got a Ford Edge (Not his choice) with an amazing number of semi-useless gadgets, and I can just picture the thing in it’s older years, with most of them not working any more. The Sync thing seems to have a lot of trouble understanding him, he has an odd voice and it just doesn’t like it.

  • avatar
    26theone

    Hey its the top selling vehicle in the United States by a wide margin.  I would say any efforts to improve it are a good idea.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Funny though…in their current ford, the Silverado already beats the F-150 (but that’s not that hard really)…

    Well, except in sales, where apparently it counts most.

    The Chevy doesn’t do anything for me, but the GMC is pretty nice looking.  I’m sure they’re going to “Equator” it to hell….

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Whew!  For a second there, I thought GM was squandering taxpayer dollars on chasing a shrinking segment and one with more competitors meaning less profit per unit.
     
     


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