Over my years in the auto industry, one thing has been made abundantly clear: Truck buyers are loyal. Sure, the occasional fluctuation will occur, but for the most part, Ford buyers will buy another Ford when the time comes, and the same with Chevy, GMC, Ram, and Toyota.
Why, then, do the truck makers keep redesigning? Beyond incorporating new technologies for improved performance, safety, and efficiency, there’s always a risk of alienating their base customers when reaching for conquest sales. Chevrolet did that a few years ago with the Silverado, revealing a truck with an interior that was not nearly as nice as the rest of the industry. The good ship Bowtie has been righted with the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado, thankfully, as even on this LT trim the passenger accommodations have been vastly improved.
Today’s Rare Ride coverage was prompted when your author saw an unusual pickup truck on the roads of Cincinnati. The truck in question was a black Sierra Denali from the early 2000s, with a telltale feature on its rear fenders: little lights on either side. Let’s talk Quadrasteer.
In 1996, General Motors unveiled the first modern electric car: The EV1. Built to prove that GM could satisfy California’s then-new zero-emissions regulations, the EV1 was a quick, efficient, electric two-seater that could be plugged into a standard 110 outlet. By all accounts, the car was well-loved by its owners lessors, but wasn’t profitable enough for GM to make a business case for the development of an EV2. GM halted production after the 1999 model year.
What if they hadn’t stopped there, though? What if, instead of cancelling the EV1, GM had decided to build on everything they’d learned about EVs and doubled down on it, using economies of scale to drive down costs to a level that could have been profitable? What if they had a platform that they already knew they were going to make hundreds of thousands of, every year, standing by at the ready? And, finally, what if that platform had been sturdy enough to carry around an extra thousand pounds of battery without breaking a sweat?
They did, and the 1999 Chevrolet Silverado EV2 is the story of GM dominance that never was.
The full-size truck race is competitive, and one can’t afford to fall too far behind.
After a few years of hearing criticisms concerning the Silverado, and how it’s not as stylish as the Ram 1500 or well-done as the Ford F-150, Chevrolet has unveiled an updated truck, with the intent of blunting those critiques and getting back in the game.
With Ford currently enjoying the brunt of the all-electric pickup coverage, General Motors needed to something to help highlight its Silverado EV and come up with rear-wheel steering. It’s something the upcoming electric F-150 will lack and could give the Chevy some advantages when moseying around a cluttered construction site or tight urban landscape.
In addition to a tighter turning radius, rear-wheel steering should also help the Silverado EV tackle trailers with a more ease. There are few things more terrifying than feeling the load you’re pulling start trying to have its way with the back half of your vehicle. Having the back wheels pivot to account for sway could be another big advantage Chevrolet could lean on once its electric pickup is going head-to-head with Ford’s.
Despite hearing murmurings that the semiconductor shortage is about to turn a corner, General Motors has recently decided to begin manufacturing full-size pickups without the sometimes obnoxious automatic stop-start feature (intended to improve fuel economy) as a way to cut back on chip usage.
While this saves many the trouble of having to manually deactivate the system each time they return to the vehicle, some will undoubtedly miss having it. Those traversing the countryside or racking up highway miles during their daily commute have little to gain from the feature. But testing has revealed that city dwellers constantly exposed to stop-and-go traffic actually have an excellent shot at lowering their fuel bill. The vehicles GM has selected can do without start-stop technologies reflects this, though the compensation it’s offering remains laughable.
As sure as the sun rises in the morning, we can always count on the Takata airbag recall adding new vehicles to its ranks. General Motors is poised to add another 5.9 million vehicles to the list after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an announcement on Monday.
Regulators stated that the automaker will be obligated to recall SUVs and pickup trucks (GMT900 vehicles) manufactured between 2007 and 2014 because the installed airbag inflators suffer from the classic Takata trait of being extremely dangerous. While the defect itself is relatively rare, the number of vehicles involved is staggering. Around 100 million inflators have been recalled by 19 major automakers around the world, and the resulting failure is often devastating. Units, especially those exposed to high levels of heat and humidity, can rupture ― causing an explosion that sprays metal fragments all over the cabin. There have been 18 known fatalities relating to the issue in the United States alone.
If the current vehicle landscape tells us anything, it’s that Americans have never gone so far afield, well beyond the reach of pavement, in as many numbers as they do today. How else to explain the emergence of so many off-road focused pickups and SUVs? Road infrastructure maintenance costs should decline in the coming years as new vehicle buyers blaze their own trail to the office and supermarket.
Watch out, nature.
Or maybe people just like the ability to do such things. Whatever the reason, the list of brush busters grows by the year, and might soon include a new entry from Chevrolet.
The all-new 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 arrived with many new items in tow, but one of the most notable was the brand’s MultiPro tailgate — a hinge-heavy piece of hardware capable of assisting box entry, acting as a workshop, serving up drinks, or blasting tunes.
For an automaker that criticized Ford so-called “Man Step,” MultiPro was akin to one of those staircase escalators for geriatric homeowners. Still, it possessed strong marketing potential, and it might soon appear on bowtie-badged trucks.
General Motors has conquest on the mind. As the Labor Day long weekend and all of its associated new car deals looms, the automaker wants to woo owners of Fiat Chrysler products (or their family members) into top-selling Chevrolet and GMC models.
It’s not a huge incentive, but it does call attention to the General’s renewed rivalry with Ram. Chevrolet in particular wants to widen the pickup sales lead it only just recaptured from its resurgent rival.
No, General Motors hasn’t tapped an army of virus-resistant robot workers from Boston Dynamics to build its bread-and-butter models; rather, the pickups themselves will undergo changes to boost appeal amid potent competition from Detroit rivals.
Sometime next year, The General’s full-sizers will reportedly correct a mistake that held the duo back upon their debut.
According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, General Motors’ truck plants now resemble Tesla plants on the eve of the end of a fiscal quarter.
The need to crank out as many pickups as possible — essential for replenishing a depleted inventory while boosting flagging sales figures — has apparently brought both management and laid-off workers to the assembly line.