Meets the Eye: GM's Full Size Trucks Get a New Look and a Major Set of
In an automotive
segment where major changes tend to happen once every decade or so, only
four years after their initial launch GM's full size pickups are receiving
significant exterior, interior and underbody upgrades.
It's an attempt
to hold off increasingly stiff current and expected competition in the
Big Three dominated big truck segment. Dodge recently launched its all
new Ram and Ford's replacement for the F-150 is expected by 2004. But
the imports aren't sitting still either. Nissan will be entering the market
for the first time in 2003. Toyota's Tundra is expected to shortly get
a set of enhancements, including a crew cab, and everyone is waiting for
Honda to show their hand next year.
It may not
be his industry, but former Intel boss Andy Grove would call this time
for GM and its full size truck lineup a 'strategic inflection point'.
Basically, it's a time when the full size truck market is changing so
dramatically that future survival depends on anticipating, gathering data
and taking action as quickly as possible. GM's action of revamping the
Silverado and Sierra so soon after they were introduced involves taking
some risks, both in style and engineering, but a lack of action would
also entail risk.
full size truck pickups are on a roll and the folks down at Detroit's
Renaissance Center are making a bet that the risk and expense of making
major enhancements to their best selling vehicles will keep the momentum
going next year and beyond.
need to look to last year's sales of full size pickups to confirm something
special has happened. Something that GM is willing to aggressively fight
and take risks to keep. For the first time since 1994 GM's combined Silverado
and Sierra sales outsold Ford's F-Series, which still retained the individual
title of the best selling car or truck in the United States in 2001.
Much of this
turnaround for GM started with the introduction of the current generation
Silverado and Sierra pickup in 1999. The trucks are built on GM's highly
flexible T800 chassis, arguably the best full size truck platform available.
The T800 forms the underpinning of every GM full size truck from a regular
cab base level Silverado to the luxurious Cadillac Escalade EXT.
the reinvigoration was the introduction of GM's all new heavy duty pickups
in 2001. The Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD both came to market
with segment leading diesel and gasoline engines that helped boost GM's
sales in the heavy duty class from a comatose 3% market share in October
2000 to a vigorous near 30% a year later.
Vehicle Line Executive for GM full size trucks, says that, "(with
the current Silverado and Sierra) we have gotten the execution right.
Now we need to move from the winning stage to creating and sustaining