PickupTruck.com Interview with Chevrolet Silverado Marketing Director Rick Scheidt
By: Michael LevinePosted: 07-01-02 01:00

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Rick Scheidt has been the marketing director for Chevrolet’s Silverado full-size pickup since Jan. 1, 1999. He had previously served as brand manager for Metro, Prizm and Tracker since 1996.

As a brand manager, Scheidt is responsible for creating the market presence of his product, developing advertising and establishing price positioning.

Scheidt received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1976, a masters degree in industrial engineering from U of M in 1979 and an MBA from Harvard University in 1981.

Scheidt first joined Chevrolet in 1981 as the C/K Pickup product planner. He moved to GM Truck & Bus in 1984 as light truck product planning manager, was promoted to director of product planning in 1987, director of business and product planning in 1989, and director of material and production control at the Pontiac East Assembly Plant in 1990. Scheidt moved to North American Export -- Sales in 1991 as general director of marketing and product planning, then moved to NAO in 1994 as director of product portfolio planning. In September 1995 he was named Mid/Lux alliance planning director at NAO, the position he held until being named a Chevrolet brand manager in October 1996.

We welcomed the opportunity to interview Rick immediately after the press introduction for the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado SS.

PickupTruck.com: Rick, we are standing here next to the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado SS. Can you take us on a walk around of the truck and show us some highlights?

Rick Scheidt: Absolutely, we're are using the Silverado SS as a launching point for some more Chevrolet SS vehicles that will follow. Now, it's kind of interesting that we are rejuvenating the [SS heritage] starting with a truck. It reflects where the market has been here lately.

You start here on the front of the truck and we are looking at the new 2003 front end but it's been modified here for the SS with unique ground effects. We have lowered the vehicle in terms of suspension and we are looking at 20-inch wheels and the appropriate tires. We are also looking at a 6.0-liter engine, the Vortec 6000 with 340 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque.

Inside the vehicle we are looking at SS embroidered headrests, white instruments on the IP and, of course, it goes without saying we are looking here at an extended cab model, which we really think is the direction of full size trucks. It's the way things have been going. Peoples' lifestyles demand that they carry more than two people or two people and all of their stuff.

We think that we have hit at a great sweet spot in the market. It's what we call attainable aspiration that we think the Chevy truck customer can afford.

Lastly, it's all wheel drive which we think is a great way to get that 340 horsepower to the ground in a way that I think our buyers are going to be very pleased with.

PUTC: If you look at the competition from Ford's Lightning and the upcoming Dodge SRT-10, a lot of folks are going to wonder, why the choice of no supercharger for the SS?

RS: Well, there were a lot of directions we could have gone with this vehicle. We could have chased it up higher in price with more performance. We could have gone down in price and gone with a regular cab and no all wheel drive. So, we have selected what we think is that kind of sweet spot in the market for performance trucks where a buyer can come in at a reasonably affordable price, get an extended cab model and some nice technology like all wheel drive and a 6.0-liter Vortec.

PUTC: It looks like you carried over some design cues from the Silverado SS concept truck. For example, in the lower front fascia you have these brake-cooling integrated ducts. Can you tell us a little more about these carryovers.

RS: Well, it does help a little [with brake cooling].

We have tried to bring some of those styling cues from the concept truck to this vehicle. Obviously that concept truck intentionally was made a little bit extreme just to let the stylists go crazy for a while and get a feel for where we wanted to go in production. So, we are pleased with this truck. It came out to be a refined looking vehicle. Not over the top but not understated either. Again, we were trying to find that sweet spot.

PUTC: Were there any thoughts about putting a manual transmission in the SS, similar to the concept to get back to that performance feel?

RS: We thought about that but for the majority of our truck buyers and the applications for this truck, the volume for that was deemed to be relatively low. It's something we will continue to look at for the very reasons that you mention but in terms of getting the first truck out there in the marketplace we think this is the right place to start.

PUTC: Do you think we will see performance related extras and enhancements made to the SS in future model years?

RS: At this point nothing is approved and we can't anything today but those of us on the SS team are very interested in seeing some things in the future. Maybe a more uplevel wheel. Maybe some more powertrain enhancements. Maybe a regular cab. Maybe a whole host of things. So, we'll continue to work SS but we are really pleased we are off to a great start.

PUTC: Can you let us know when we can expect to see these trucks at dealerships?

RS: We are going to start to build these at the end of the 2002 calendar year and you will start to see them at dealerships in the first quarter of 2003

PUTC: Any idea on what the pricing will be?

RS: Well, we haven't set the pricing yet but you are looking at a fairly uplevel extended cab with a 6.0-liter engine and all wheel drive so that will give you kind of a sense of our thought process on where we will price this vehicle.

PUTC: Well Rick, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.

RS: Sure. Thanks a lot.

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