Considering current market conditions, which one industry official has described as "watershed," we weren't really surprised to learn that General Motors is putting an indefinite hold on its plans to re-do its next generation of large trucks and SUVs.
By saving an estimated $250 million or more per vehicle, GM can shift resources to its passenger car operations, where sales are actually growing. But it may also simply choose to hang onto some of that money at a time when it is slashing costs wherever possible.
It's also possible that the automaker could eventually bring things back on schedule, since the replacement for big trucks, like the Cadillac Escalade SUV and Chevrolet Silverado pickup, aren't due to market until 2013 - according to a timetable inadvertently released to the public as part of the settlement with the United Auto Workers Union, last autumn.
The current crop of trucks began rolling out in 2006, and have a fair amount of life left in them, though the surge to $4-plus gas has taken the steam out of a segment that once dominated the General Motors fleet.
Part of the challenge for the automaker - which has already announced plans to reduce production and close some of its truck plants - is to predict where the full-size pickup and SUV segments will ultimately settle down at. Few observers expect them to go away entirely. Then, GM needs to decide how those products will fit in with plans increases in federal fuel economy standards.
Whether it decides to retain the current line-up or update them, it's certain that GM will be adopting more fuel-efficient technology, going forward, such as new hybrid powertrains, possibly diesels, and perhaps even more advanced, high-mileage systems.