Is GM Kicking The Body-On-Frame Habit?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Big trucks have meant big profits for Detroit. Thanks to cheap oil, personal paranoia, a desire for an outdoor life that only the drudgery of daily commuting could provide, the fairer sex' natural desire to see ten miles ahead at all times and a federal fuel economy regulation loophole big enough to drive an Expedition through, The Big 2.8 managed to convince Americans that body-on-frame vehicles were just dandy for personal transportation. With gas price increases showing no signs of slowing, one of Detroit's biggest truck chassis addicts is looking at kicking the habit. Bloomberg reports that GM, yes GM, is developing a lighter replacement for its biggest SUVs (Yukotahburbelade) that won't tow jack shit rely on a heavier pickup-truck frame. This, according to "people familiar with the effort." (Familiarity breeds PR.) It should be said (and soon will be) that GM has been relying on the same basic Silverado full-size truck platform its "light trucks" since 1965. Even if truck-framed transportation isn't about to disapper overnight, at least GM has taken the first steps to beating its addiction to "easy" profits. It has admitted it has a problem.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on May 10, 2008

    Davey, I like the old beetles, and it was likely just as good as Oliver because the engines in those things can be fixed with chewing gum and bailing wire. Still though, the beetle got off easy. It wasn't in the hands of one of the hosts, and didn't do all the challenges. We may never know.

  • Jthorner Jthorner on May 10, 2008

    Landcrusher said: Body on frame vehicles last. They hold their value better. For extreme duty situations part 1 has merit, but the data doesn't support the second assertion. Ford's Panther chassis is the last BOF car sold in the US and they depreciate like a stone. BOF SUVs are likewise now in resale value free fall. If you just must have a 1-3 year old Suburban or Navigator you are in luck, because they are getting cheaper by the minute. I'm with golden2husky, properly engineered a unibody vehicle will be both lighter and have better torsional rigidity than a similar size BOF vehicle. BOF has an advantage in heavy duty applications like serious towing, but for normal passenger car use it is an inefficient vehicle architecture. Horses for courses ....

  • 50merc 50merc on May 10, 2008

    Might this be the time to resurrect the El Camino, the Ranchero, et al? They couldn't haul much, and if made from a Malibu or Fusion they couldn't tow much. But drugstore cowboys could get good mileage and still be able to say "I drive a Truck."

  • Holydonut Holydonut on May 11, 2008

    The Audi Q7, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Mercedes GL/ML vehicles are unibodies that offer similar body on frame characteristics. But then they get lousy mpg in standard petrol-engine trim. Depending on what GM is proposing here... they may not be accomplishing much. Regarding the car-based CUVs... they'll will never be as rugged as the body on frame variants. You'll never be able to package a transmission robust enough to tow; CUVs can never get a torque-y V8; and the rear suspensions of CUVs will never allow for a high enough GVW for those times you want to haul kids to baseball camp.