Given the automaker’s sales numbers, it’s not the wildest prediction. Investment bank Morgan Stanley sees General Motors’ American passenger car lineup — or most of it, anyway — disappearing in the near future.
The move would see GM adopt a similar product strategy as its Detroit Three rivals, with sedans relegated to overseas markets and focus placed firmly on the production of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. Barring $4 or $5 gasoline, domestic buying habits make this prediction seem inevitable — and there’s already rumblings of an impending cull in the automaker’s stable.
After forming last year, GM Defense LLC, the resurrected military arm of General Motors, is well on its way to outfitting operational personnel in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The most promising product to emerge from the potentially lucrative division is the Colorado ZH2, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered variant of the automaker’s ZR2 off-road midsize pickup. GM debuted the vehicle a year before the creation of GM Defence, then handed it over to the military.
Apparently, the Army thinks quite highly of it, having field-tested the quiet truck during battalion-sized war games. But that’s just the start of GM’s plan to dominate land, sea, and maybe air.
General Motors has filed one of the strangest patent requests we’ve ever seen, one that gives vehicles the ability to change their shape. Up until now, a GM-branded transformer was something that only existed in the movies. But it would seem the automaker hopes to develop a real-world example someday.
While the concept and patent drawings mirror an idea I developed as a six-year old with a box of crayons, it does have some practical applications. GM has made it clear it sees a future rife with autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing. However, operating a theoretical fleet of self-driving vehicles comes with numerous hurdles. One of the biggest is finding a place to store them.
Having computer-controlled cars mill about endlessly is inefficient, but so is storing them in a central hub. Ideally, you would locate them in small clusters near the area they’re meant to serve. That’s easier said than done in urban environments. But if a car could somehow collapse itself to half its normal size, new parking opportunities suddenly become available.
Here today, gone tomorrow, back the next day. That’s basically the recent history of the Chevrolet Sonic, which formed the basis of a Wall Street Journal report earlier this spring. Chevrolet’s subcompact hatch and sedan could end production by the end of the year, the report stated, and the model’s subsequent disappearance from a 2019 model year California Air Resources Board certification document only added fuel to the rumor fire.
We reached out to GM about the Sonic’s CARB vanishing act, but never heard back. Now, the Michigan-built model has reappeared, promising a 2019 model year model for subcompact buyers.
Oh man, they even got the paint right. Who knew retro design cues could feel so authentic?
Hold on, that’s not the upcoming midsize Chevrolet Blazer — it’s a 1979 model (in alluring Cheyenne trim). Obviously, General Motors expects the public to hold fond memories of the Blazers of yesteryear, otherwise it wouldn’t affix the brawny, rugged name to its newest crossover. Yes, crossover. The Tahoe, which replaced the two-door K5 Blazer back in the mid ’90s, remains the top choice for drivers looking for bowties and body-on-frame construction.
However, there’s plenty of space between the newly downsized Equinox and sprawling Traverse. Into the breach drives the Blazer.
In all of my 35 years of exploring junkyards in the western United States, I had never found a Mexican-built, Mexican-market car until a few weeks ago, when I spotted this General Motors de México-manufactured 2009 Opel Corsa in a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard.
When General Motors first deployed OnStar, it was a little more than an emergency services hotline. Drivers in need could tap a blue button on their rearview mirror and immediately get in contact with an operator. The system could also do this automatically in the event of a crash. OnStar later introduced anti-theft measures, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote access as part of a subscription plan.
However, with General Motors seeing dollar signs wherever connectivity is involved, the automaker wants to retool the system. OnStar will continue offering existing services, but GM is changing the subscription model and placing a new emphasis on data acquisition. The good news is that the tiered payment model will offer more features starting in May. Unfortunately, some those amenities used to be free and those fed up with companies selling your data or paranoid about Orwellian Big Brother scenarios might be less enthusiastic about the long-term corporate vision.
The Buick Encore isn’t going away anytime soon. Built by GM Korea, the little crossover, its Chevrolet Trax twin, and the diminutive Chevy Spark will continue chugging out of the country’s three GM assembly plants and making a boat ride to the U.S., all thanks to a multi-billion dollar turnaround deal.
Faced with declining domestic sales and reduced exports, GM’s Korean division appeared on the edge of bankruptcy last week. A warring union resistant to the division’s wage and bonus demands and a hesitant South Korean government didn’t help matters. On Monday, however, the union representing 26,000 workers agreed to the automaker’s wage and bonus concessions. Members approved the deal today.
With GM’s end of the bargain — free up $600 million in operating funds — now complete, the taps can start flowing. There’s now $4.35 billion earmarked to turn the troubled automaker around.
Unlike Ford, which wants everyone to know that small cars aren’t something it’s very interested in building, General Motors is keeping its product cards much closer to its chest.
Still, loose-lipped sources were abuzz this spring, informing various outlets that GM might be going the same route, albeit in a slower, less public fashion. The Chevrolet Sonic was listed as one of the nameplates bound for the graveyard. Now, a California Air Resources Board engine certification document offers new evidence that the subcompact sedan and hatch will not stage a reappearance for 2019.
If you spent the weekend in a state of breathless suspense, allow us to let some air out of that balloon. General Motors’ embattled Korean division, source of America’s smallest GM cars, has pulled back from the brink of bankruptcy after reaching an 11th hour deal with its union.
The tentative bargain opens the door to government assistance for the money-losing automaker, and should keep wee little vehicles rolling out of the country’s assembly plants.
As April 20th dawns without a wage deal with its workforce, General Motors’ troubled Korean division could be well down the road to bankruptcy.
GM Korea, which recently announced the closure of an assembly plant amid a continued loss of sales and money, needed to reach a deal with its 16,000 workers by today’s date in order to gain assistance from the South Korean government. The division builds the Chevrolet Spark, Trax, and Buick Encore for U.S. customers. Since revealing its r estructuring plan back in February, GM Korea failed to gain much-needed wage concessions from its aggressive labor union.
Without this, bankruptcy might be the only option, the automaker claims.
General Motors is updating its on-board digital marketplace to allow customers to purchase fuel without ever having to leave the vehicle. You’ll still have to leave the confines of the vehicle to actually pump the gas, unless you live in New Jersey, but the exchange of money is handled entirely by the world’s first “in-dash fuel payment system.”
What a time to be alive.
The new service is available via the Shell widget, which is already featured on GM’s Marketplace app (providing directions to the nearest Shell station). The corporate collaboration allows respective patrons to select a nearby Shell station, use the map to navigate there, park, select a pump, fill up, and drive away. Payment is automatically charged through Shell’s Fuel Rewards program.
As it stands, the only Chevrolet vehicles not offered with available four-cylinder power are the Suburban, Tahoe, and Silverado lines of full-size trucks. Everywhere else, from the diminutive Spark hatch to the Camaro sports coupe and the full-size Impala sedan, and from the Equinox and Traverse crossovers to the Colorado pickup, you’ll find at least the option of a gasoline four-banger displacing no more than 2.5 liters.
Even if you choose a V6 or V8, there’s a good chance it’ll also run on four cylinders under light loads.
Now that the legislation that expedited the engine downsizing trend is poised to disappear, the brand says it’s not changing course. Chevrolet will pretend there’s still an Obama in the Oval Office and that its hide depends on making steady fuel economy gains.
General Motors summoned all 3,000 of its Lordstown Assembly employees to the Ohio plant this afternoon, and half left the meeting with an uncertain future.
The automaker said it plans to cut the second shift at the plant, just a year after GM scrapped the third shift in the face of declining compact car sales. Lordstown, which opened in 1966, builds only the Chevrolet Cruze.
With its jacked suspension, cutaway front fenders, and upgraded rubber, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 appeals to midsize pickup buyers who aren’t in the habit of staying on dry, safe pavement over the course of a weekend. But, while the ZR2 is the General Motors vehicle most cut out for Oregon Trail work, there’s always room for improvement.
In a bid to satisfy these adventurous customers, GM appears ready to offer a better off-roader.
Getting quite a jump on next year’s reveal, General Motors released a teaser of the upcoming 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD on Tuesday. The heavy duty pickup slots between the revamped 1500 model unveiled in Detroit in January and the new medium-duty 4500/5500/6500HD trucks shown at March’s Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.
Those latter heavy haulers now share the Silverado name, bringing all of Chevrolet’s full-size-and-up trucks into the Silverado fold.
With the 2020 Silverado HD, the family will be complete. Prototypes hit the road soon, GM claims, but it’ll be a while before we get a full view of these new HD trucks.
Last week it was the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic and a report that the little four- or five-door could bite the dust by the end of this year. Now we hear the Spark — General Motors’ smallest U.S. offering — could also be on its way to the nameplate graveyard.
Oddly, the Reuters report, which cites a GM Korea spokesman, comes just a few days after the unveiling of the refreshed 2019 Spark. Like other Gamma II platform small vehicles, the Spark comes to us by way of Korea. As you know, that embattled division is currently struggling for survival, and it doesn’t much like the look of America’s falling Spark sales.
So, what would replace the Spark and give GM Korea’s threatened factories a safer product bet? You already know the answer to this. A crossover.
General Motors found itself the target of criticism after its sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro appeared for the 2016 looking too much like the fifth-generation model.
Clearly, GM didn’t feel like staging a repeat of this styling error, so the model’s mid-cycle refresh dares greatly, to borrow a phrase from another division. The 2019 Camaro drops the slim upper grille and gaping lower intake of the 2018 model in favor of a more conventional setup. The lower intake, now significantly reduced in size, flows into aero-enhancing air curtains, while the SS model visually merges upper and lower openings with a blacked-out center bumper section. It’s a little Silverado-esque, to be honest.
In a nod to frugal thrill seekers, 2019 also sees the sought-after 1LE package dropped in the lap of four-cylinder buyers.
The sub-subcompact “city car” segment is one of those rare occurrences where Canadians have it better than Americans in terms of choice and price. While the U.S. fields just two of these tiny runabouts (the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive does not count, and we’re not counting the Fiat 500, either), Canucks can warm their frozen cockles knowing there’s three four-door, ultra-cheap models waiting for them at local dealers.
Not only that, but all three models carry an MSRP in the four-figure range. Just barely, but in a country where an A&W Uncle Burger cost your author $9.03 last week ($9.03! No combo, either), this is tantamount to bank robbery.
So, as we take a look at the changes Chevrolet has in store for its 2019 Spark, let’s gauge the overall health of this tiny segment — north and south of the border.
There’s two bits of bad news in the lineup of refreshed Chevrolet small cars announced today. Three, if you’re a fan of the Sonic. You see, the automaker doesn’t mention either the Sonic or the Impala in all of this 2019 model madness — lending credence to a report claiming GM plans to ditch both of those models. It’s rare for an automaker to invest in an 11th hour refresh of a model it plans to kill.
Sure, the Sonic’s last refresh came for the 2017 model year, one year later than the introduction of the current-generation Malibu, Cruze, and Spark. So maybe it’s just not due yet. But the Impala bowed for the 2014 model year and there’s still no word on any refresh or redesign.
The other bad thing will be felt only by lovers of the three-pedal, row-your-own lifestyle. What we reported in December is now confirmed: the Chevrolet Cruze goes fully automatic for 2019. It’s time to cross another affordable, manual-transmission car off a shrinking list.
In redesigning the midsize Chevrolet Malibu sedan for the 2016 model year, General Motors shaved an impressive amount of weight from the not-so-well-regarded eighth-generation model. It also stretched the wheelbase, adding volume to a rear seat many found lacking. Now boasting carefully creased body panels, the lithe-looking new Malibu relegated the chunky, previous design to the Island of Bad Bodies.
That frowny face could still use some work, many said at the time. For 2019, GM takes care of that, updating — fairly extensively — the model’s visage in a mid-cycle refresh. The Malibu also sees the addition of a dedicated “sporty” trim.
Talk about a dated movie reference, but here goes. You’ve got a full-size American passenger car dangling from each hand, but you know in your heart you do not possess the strength to save both. One, unfortunately, has to die. But for the other? Salvation.
We come to this grim scenario for a good reason. Earlier this week, a Wall Street Journal report struck fear and sadness into lovers of large passenger cars with long-running nameplates. While unconfirmed, the report stated that Ford will discontinue the Taurus in the very near future, with General Motors planning to do the same with the venerable Impala after the current generation ends.
Two once-beloved models that fell victim to changing consumer preferences — one dating back to the heady 1980s, the other to the Eisenhower administration. Which one deserves to live?
A recent report on the potential demise of the long-running Taurus nameplate brought mixed reactions in the comments section, and is still doing so as of this writing. Said report also inspired today’s Buy/Drive/Burn, in a get it while you can sort of way. Soon, the Blue Oval in this trio will take the dirt nap.
But that’s then and this is now — and you must choose what to do with three full-size American sedans on sale in 2018.
If a report by the Wall Street Journal ends up being true, General Motors will soon have an awfully lonely assembly plant on the edge of the Detroit suburbs. Sources familiar with GM’s product plans tell the publication the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic hatchback and sedan might be killed off as early as this year.
Small in size and powered by a brace of gas-sipping four-cylinders, the Sonic hit the market in late 2011. The model, produced at Orion Assembly in Michigan, came to be in the wake of the recession, offering buyers affordability and frugality with a “Made in America” stamp. In the ensuing years, however, buyers began moving on — and up — from small economy cars.
Just ahead of today’s announcement of monthly sales numbers, The General announced it will be shifting to a quarterly model for releasing its sales performance data.
After today’s posting of numbers, one will no longer be able to scrutinize month-over-month fluctuations of GM’s four brands. March statistics (released today at 9:30am EDT) will be the automaker’s final monthly sales report this year. In 2018, second quarter sales will be released on July 3, third quarter sales on October 2 and fourth quarter sales on January 3, 2019.
South Korea’s powerful labor unions have the ability to make vehicle assembly a non-starter, and the country’s workers have been known to strike like it’s going out of style. Just ask Hyundai about that.
As it seeks to bring its operations in the country back from the brink, General Motors would prefer to see its workers’ union bend to its will, agree to the concessions demanded of it, and generally get out of the way. This isn’t happening, so GM’s now playing hardball.
Agree to our cost-cutting plan, the automaker says, or GM Korea declares bankruptcy.
We’ve been on a Nineties streak lately, and our last four editions of Buy/Drive/Burn have all taken place within the decade. Well, ready your baggy beige suit and adjust its extensive shoulder pad region, because today we talk 1992. Specifically, Gtem suggested three luxury SUVs which were very popular with middle-class families across the country.
Ford, Oldsmobile, and [s]AMC[/s] Jeep — which makes it to your garage?
General Motors, the automaker that once took badge engineering to dizzying new heights, is culling a slow-selling carbon copy from its lineup. The Chevrolet City Express, a small, front-drive panel van you’ll be forgiven for not remembering, will no longer be available to commercial buyers, GM says.
Essentially a Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo with a chrome grille and bowtie badge where the word “Nissan” should be, this body double gave GM a cheap North American entry in a small commercial van market dominated by Ford Motor Company. It seems buyers preferred Ford by a wide margin. Don’t worry, though — there’s still a CVT-equipped van available for repairmen with oddball tastes.
Only if you choose to, it seems. After launching its Maven ride-sharing service in numerous U.S. cities, as well as Canada’s largest population center, sources claim General Motors wants to expand the service to privately owned vehicles.
In other words, you’ll be able to make your own GM car available via the automaker’s app-based Maven service, generate income from short-term renters, while GM takes part of the cut. If the plan goes ahead, let’s hope your renters aren’t as slovenly as these ones.
Earlier this year, Chevy unveiled its new 2019 Silverado and, at the time, made mention that the nameplate would eventually migrate to its commercial line of trucks.
At today’s Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Chevrolet did indeed unveil its 2019 Silverado in burly 4500HD, 5500HD, and 6500HD formats. It’s the biggest Silverado ever, news that will surely delight groups as diverse as hard-working construction crews and builders of aftermarket bro-dozers.
Stop thinking about roadsters. To the best of our knowledge, General Motors has no plans to enter the burgeoning electric sports car market, and we pray it wouldn’t be a front-drive model if it did.
No, the two-seater Chevrolet Bolt we speak of remains pretty much unchanged when viewed from the outside. Inside, however, there’s plenty of space to stretch out behind the front seats, as those are the only seats you’ll find.
Christmas get-togethers across North America were ruined when we reported, last December, that the manual transmission would soon leave the Chevrolet Cruze stable. That sad bit of information came by way of VIN decoder documents submitted to the NHTSA by General Motors for the 2019 model year.
For now, the stick shift lives, both in gasoline- and diesel-powered Cruzes. However, an update to the 2018 VIN document suggests an early arrival for the continuously variable transmission.
Earlier this week, our Junkyard Find was a totally rad 1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS, complete with interesting personal touches applied by an owner who was quite familiar with taste and elegance.
In the comments, things quickly turned to the nature of the automobile during a dark and Malaisey period — 1979 to 1989. A question bubbled to the surface for me: Were there any lustworthy American cars made in that period? Let’s find out.
The Chevrolet Chevette was a primitive, cramped, rear-wheel-drive econobox hammered together with obsolete technology… that sold like crazy because it was simple and cheap at a time when stagflation and gas prices were up and confidence in the future was down.
The Chevette Scooter was the most affordable Chevette; here’s one that managed to evade The Crusher‘s jaws until age 42, finally ending its days in a snow-covered Denver self-service yard.
During the early-to-mid 1960s, the king of the full-sized Chevrolet world was the loaded Impala. The Bel Air wasn’t quite as luxurious, but still had a decent amount of swank. For the bargain-conscious car shopper who wanted a bare-bones full-size sedan without a lot of costly gingerbread, the Chevy Biscayne was an excellent choice.
Here’s a ’62 that outlived most of the Impalas and Bel Airs, now ending its 56-year journey in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.
Third-generation Camaros are so plentiful in wrecking yards (and on the street) that I don’t pay much attention to them unless I see something special. Say, Iron Duke power with an automatic transmission, resulting in the slowest Camaro of all time… or a lovingly customized example, covered with unique airbrush work, as we see in today’s Colorado Junkyard Find.
Amid frantic restructuring designed to keep General Motors’ money-losing Korean operations afloat, the automaker has proposed a $2.8 billion investment, a new report claims.
According to Reuters, a South Korean government official said GM would invest the funds over the span of 10 years, though not all of that money would come from the automaker’s coffers.
The home of America’s smallest General Motors vehicles is bleeding sales and cash, forcing the automaker into harsh measures in an attempt to save its South Korean operation. Many fear last week’s plant closure announcement is just the beginning of an eventual exodus from the Korean market. There’s three remaining assembly plants, each sitting on shaky financial ground.
Today brings encouraging news, however. Two reports paint a picture of GM in triage mode, doing everything in its power to stem the bleeding — of both money and customers.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in says General Motors’ decision to shut down its Gunsan plant will negatively impact the region. He’s hoping his administration can work some impressive mojo to boost economic activity in the area, but admitted that GM’s quick exodus could make that tricky. There are also concerns that the automaker may soon decide to close down its remaining three plants within the country, leaving 16,000 South Koreans without employment.
“Especially, the decline in employment [at GM] and subcontractors will be difficult to bear for Gunsan City and North Jeolla province,” Moon said in a statement released by his office.
However, things haven’t been going well for GM in the region. The company said it shuttered the plant after it became increasingly underutilized — running at about 20 percent of its total capacity over the last three years. Meanwhile, GM President Dan Ammann claims Korean labor costs have increased by over than 50 percent since 2010. Worker productivity is also abysmal. It takes roughly three hours longer to build a single car in GM’s Korean facilities than it does in the U.S., and Korean strikes are becoming commonplace.
General Motors has announced plans to close one of its four South Korean assembly plants in an effort to stem a tsunami of red ink.
As it attempts to stabilize (or cut) unprofitable overseas operations — an effort that led to the sale of its European Opel and Vauxhall brands last year — GM will close its Gunsan, South Korea plant by the end of May. That facility, which employs 2,000 workers, builds the Chevrolet Cruze sedan and Orlando MPV, a boxy, three-row vehicle that almost made it to American soil.
There are few things sweeter in life than bragging to your friends and family about the good deal you just negotiated on a new car. They certainly won’t care, but the amount of self-satisfaction received from reminding yourself that you are a force to be reckoned with at the dealership is immeasurable.
Of course, the bargain in the driveway can turn into a money pit once you calculate all the costs associated with vehicle ownership. Fuel costs, financing, insurance, and depreciation can all add up — especially if you purchased the wrong model. So what’s a thrift-obsessed shopper to do, calculate the total cost of ownership on every model in every segment over a five-year period to determine which is the best value overall?
Don’t be ridiculous, someone has already done that.
After the industry’s first annual sales decline of the post-recession era in 2017, the small uptick in year-over-year U.S. auto sales in January 2018 shouldn’t be seen as a trend, analysts warn. This year will apparently bring more worry for automakers as buyers plan fewer trips to the dealership.
For the domestic brands, January brought a mixed sales bag. Two members of the Detroit Three posted significant sales declines, while the third squeaking by on the strength of light truck sales. Clearly, having a lineup full of pickups, SUVs, and crossovers helps a company’s bottom line, but it’s no guarantee of ever-higher volume in today’s market.
Here at TTAC, we sometimes offer up a story published by a sister publication after deciding it’s something worthy of your time. This piece, published by GMInsideNews, fits that bill. While the soulless autonomous future scares many of us, General Motors is working on a way to stop those driverless cars from plowing over each and every one of us. Read on.
General Motors continues to pour money and time into perfecting vehicle autonomy.
One of the integral themes of an autonomous driving future is communication. Vehicles will be required to rapidly and constantly talk to one another, relaying position, speed, and intent, with the same demands applying to our roadways and intersections — which will be expected to relay weather, traffic, and safety information in real time as vehicles approach.
Pedestrians, however, pose a unique problem. In busy cities, pedestrians and drivers routinely communicate nonverbally by making eye contact or gesticulating, but an autonomous vehicle doesn’t have that privilege. Its machine code is dependant on a series of binary questions it must ask itself in order to determine if the person is a threat, which — if affirmative — currently results in the car coming to a halt, which on occasion has caused a rear-end collision, or two.
Well, GM is working on a system in which autonomous vehicles will be capable of better understanding the motions of pedestrians by communicating with their Internet-connected devices, be it smart-phones, wearables, or perhaps even future advancements made towards transhumanism.
I don’t think I heard the term “MVP” used in software development until six or seven years ago. It doesn’t mean “Most Valuable Player,” nor does it mean either of the two rude but hilarious things from the “roasting” episode of Arliss, neither of which would be appropriate for a family website like TTAC. Rather, it means “Minimum Viable Product.”
The purpose of an MVP is to get your software out there in public usage so you can both obtain user feedback for future development and earn enough money to fund that future development. Google is well known for doing this: its original search page was the very definition of MVP compared to the monstrous multi-purpose interface that it is today.
You can make the argument that some non-software products out there are also MVPs. The toothbrush and toothpaste you get at a Holiday Inn Express when you’ve forgotten your own Black Series electric? That’s definitely a minimum viable product. When most young people furnish their first dorm room or apartment, they are definitely looking for their own MVP. When you’re traveling for business and they call closing time at the bar, you’re going to take a very open-minded view of what constitutes that minimum viable product for the evening.
What about cars? What’s the MVP of the modern automobile? Contrary to what some of the B&B believe, it’s not a 200,000-mile Corolla or Volvo. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you gotta be rich to own a cheap car. Let’s look instead at what the minimum viable product might be for someone with very limited mechanical knowledge. Someone with no tools, no covered parking, no garage in which to service, no high-school buddy who now owns an import repair shop. In other words, a reliable vehicle with low cost of entry, low cost of operation, and a high likelihood of starting and running at all times.
What would that look like? What would it cost?
I’ve long said that stereotypes exist for a reason, perhaps to my ever-increasing danger from the “that’s problematic!” crowd. In many cases, however, it’s a false assumption. An unfair one. We’re a society of individuals who do things and like things for a variety of reasons.
Not every Silverado driver is a backwards-thinking hayseed. For from it. In the same vein, not every Challenger owner is a brash, nature-hating blockhead whose intellect never rose above a high school level. Not every Bimmer owner is a terrible boss and womanizer who hasn’t made use of a turn signal since the early 1990s. Not every Journey owner is oblivious to the presence of other, higher-quality vehicles on the market — their dealer just made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Still, automotive stigmas exist, and persist. General Motors once found out the hard way that holding on to the past was actually harming the future of its halo car.
Truly, this is a momentous year for trucks. Not one, not two, but three completely revamped or wholly new domestic pickups greeted us in Detroit last week, ready to capitalize on America’s unyielding hunger for vehicles that can haul, tow, ford, climb, traverse, and commute daily with a single occupant.
While we haven’t yet had an opportunity to put the 2019 Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, or Ford Ranger through their paces, we’d hope to find an increase in refinement and capability in returning models. Over at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however, there’s a different testing regimen planned. Let’s just say it’s a hard-hitting one.
And if Ram or Chevy wants to get into the IIHS’ good books, those trucks had best perform better than their so-so predecessors.
The most gonzo of all current Corvettes, the ZR1, packs a 755 horsepower wallop from its supercharged LT5. Chevrolet, as it has in the past with other notable versions of popular models, offered up the first retail copy to the highest bidder at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale.
Rick Hendrick, who is reported to already own a couple of Chevys, ponied up the cash and won the auction … despite not even being in the room.
Corvette customers have enjoyed the choice of a seven-speed manual since its introduction in the macho C7. Paired with the Vette’s V8, the 144-pound transmission is made by Tremec and incorporates active rev matching.
Now, California Air Resources Board documents reveal the same TR-6070 transmission may be offered in the 2019 Camaro, in addition to its existing six-speed manual. Resistance is futile: you know you want that extra gear.
General Motors launched its Maven rideshare service in 2016 with the goal of providing renters with a taste of its vehicles, while also bringing in a little extra revenue. The service offers a wide array of vehicles ranging from small hatchbacks like the Chevrolet Spark to large SUVs like the Tahoe.
The service is available in many larger cities across the country and, since I was visiting Detroit for the auto show, I decided to give it a try to see what a potential renter might encounter. I signed up for the app and rented a couple of vehicles without notifying GM in order to experience the vehicles just as the general public would.
The vehicles were far worse than I expected.
When I left the media center at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, I turned to Steph to say I might write a roundup piece this week, but I wasn’t sure what angle to take. It’s true this year’s show was truck-focused, and I wanted to go beyond the obvious theme (which Jack eventually took on here) and see if there was more to the show that was getting lost in the truck madness.
“Maybe I will find inspiration on the open road,” I joked.
Instead, the “open road” greeted me with snarled traffic near Detroit and whiteout conditions a couple hours later in Southwest Michigan/Northwest Indiana. So, as I tried to keep a Camry pointed forward and not sideways while surrounded by insane open-road truckers whose response to the weather was to drive even faster, I realized I wasn’t going to come up with some grand, sweeping theme for this year’s show.
I left Detroit at 4:51AM on Tuesday morning, pointed south for a three-hour drive that would terminate with the beginning of my workday. I could have taken the morning off, but I like to surround my auto shows with a little bit of deliberate misery, lest I inadvertently become too comfortable in the entirely artificial universe of public relations and journalist-pampering that seems to gain steam every year even as the rest of the event comes to resemble the petal-dropping Enchanted Rose in the spare wing of the Beast’s castle. Thus the 4 AM wakeup and the trudge out to the frozen parking lot, hunchbacked with suit bags and audibly creaking from every joint, Danger Girl trailing behind me with the wide-eyed stare common to prisoners of war and victims of spousal abuse, even if it’s mostly musical in nature.
We were not the only people starting our morning, and our truck, before dawn. Long-time TTAC readers may remember that General Motors and a few other automakers pay the travel expenses of quite a few autojournos in exchange for obtaining control of their narratives. Most of them arrive a few days before the actual show, all the better to maximize the free meals and curated experiences. On Saturday, while my son and I were driving up to a skatepark in Cleveland for an evening’s worth of BMX riding, I’d seen a former colleague of mine whining on Instagram about the less-than-five-star nature of his complimentary accommodations at the GM Renaissance Marriott. The only way I could think of to register my disappointment was to change my own hotel reservation to the absolute cheapest room available on Hotels.com: $47 a night for the Allen Park Motor Lodge.
The motel, and the room, turned out to be kinda-sorta okay, although the bed didn’t really make the grade for two people with a hardware store’s worth of screws and bolts in their bones. Here’s the interesting part: I’d expected that most of my fellow motel-dwellers would be engaged in some form of recreational depravity, but in actuality the bulk of them were construction and service-industry workers taking advantage of the weekly rates. They were early to bed and early to rise. Our work-truck white Silverado, parked in a line of pickups that stretched all the way across the motel’s road frontage, was notable only for being slightly newer than the rest. As we backed out of our spot, I saw a few Carhartt-clad fellows trudging out to the Colorados and F-150s and Rams, tool belts slung over their shoulders, rubbing their eyes and exhaling cloudy yawns of crystallized steam towards the moon.
Back to life, back to reality. But there was a bit of irony in it for me, because this Detroit show was the first one in a long time to acknowledge the connection between the polished artifice of the press-event turntable and the early-morning trudge to one’s truck.
This week in Detroit was, in a pleasant reversal of years past, all about pickups. Sure, there have been plenty of truck displays at past shows, but I’m struggling to recall the last time two of the Detroit Three unveiled a significant revamp while the other trumpeted a noteworthy new engine.
The one that made me sit bolt upright in my chair was not a top rung Limited from Ford, Laramie from Ram, or High Country from Chevy, although those are tasty trims indeed. No, the version which captured my attention is the one shown above: the poverty-spec Work Truck.
General Motors has a new in-house 3.0-liter inline-six turbodiesel planned for its next-generation full-size pickups, and, while it won’t be available from launch, now we know where it’s being built.
GM’s vice president of global propulsion systems, Dan Nicholson, says the engine — which came as a surprise announcement during the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado’s weekend debut — will hail from Flint, Michigan.
There’s something about truck marketing.
Any time an automaker has a redesigned, refreshed, or updated truck to sell, out come the shots at the competition.
Tonight it was Chevy’s turn — the automaker wouldn’t divulge specs related to the 3.0-liter diesel inline-six that will be available in its all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, but GM product boss Mark Reuss made sure to imply that the diesel would make more power than that of the diesel Ford just unveiled for the F-150.
General Motors has showcased its plan to launch public ride-hailing services by teasing a self-driving vehicle with no manual controls whatsoever. The fleet is said to arrive in 2019, which gives us plenty of time to form an angry mob.
On Thursday, the company announced it had submitted a safety petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requesting that autonomous Chevrolet Bolts be allowed to operate on public roads without adhering to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that pertain to actual driving.
When thinking of a four-door pickup dating from before the current century, one envisions work crews heading to a construction or logging site. Now, these vehicles ferry mom, dad, Caden, and Brayden to Lowes.
The transformation of the pickup from utilitarian hauler to plush, well-appointed family ferry has done wonders for truck sales in North America, with automakers giving thanks for the high-margin boost to their bottom line. However, keeping up with changing preferences isn’t always easy.
General Motors knows that, in order to keep up with its rivals, it needs to build many more crew cab versions of its next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
An ill wind blew through Detroit late last decade, prompting all domestic automakers to shed excess weight in order to keep their heads above water. In some cases, automakers shaved off long-running brands like an unwanted hair. Models disappeared, while some prestige nameplates snapped up years earlier went out to the yard sale plastered in discount stickers.
A less flashy side of the recession-era cost-cutting involved the elimination of certain automotive niches. One, General Motors’ medium-duty truck line, failed to find a buyer before bankruptcy tipped GM’s hand. The unit didn’t make it out of the recession alive.
Well, now it’s back. GM has announced the Chevrolet Silverado line will no longer stop at the 3500HD model, and that our first full glimpse of the new medium-duty truck line will come in just two months.
The number of people willing to plunk down a $1,000 deposit for a Tesla Model 3 currently stands at about 455,000. In the third quarter of 2017, Tesla delivered 220 units of its smallest and most affordable electric car. Last quarter, some 1,550 buyers took ownership.
If it looks like it’s shaping up to be a long wait for the newest reservation holders, you’re right. Tesla claims it has succeeded in working out some of the issues hampering production at its Fremont, California assembly plant, but the pushed-back ramp-up of Model 3 production means some reservation holders won’t see their new car this decade. Meanwhile, you can not only walk into a General Motors dealer and order a Chevrolet Bolt today, but you can expect delivery well before the 2020 election campaign gets into full swing.
Is GM planning to exploit its competitor’s production woes? Not us, the automaker claims.
Our last Rare Ride was a convertible Cadillac by the name of Allanté. It mixed American power and engineering with a body designed in Italy. Today we take a look at something with the same sort of principles, but with the additional quirkiness of a British backstory.
And it’s much, much rarer than the Cadillac.
Swelling to alarming levels roughly a year ago, General Motors’ vehicle inventory was still hovering around recession-era levels in the middle of 2017. In May, GM had a 100-day supply of light trucks and a 97-day supply of passenger cars. While that’s not a serious problem when factories are running full tilt to satisfy demand, the cooling automotive market brought reason for concern.
General Motors said there was no reason for anyone to become unsettled over the surplus. With several assembly plants undergoing retooling in the fall, executives claimed inventories would fall to normal levels before 2018. As it turned out, those production gaps played out exactly as the automaker hoped.