click photos to enlarge
RELEASE: 2007 Chevrolet Silverado by TCC Team (7/31/2006)
Official word on the Silverado, Sierra.
GM Loses $3.2 Billion - But It's Good by TCC Team (7/31/2006)
Restructuring costs aside, General Motors pleases the Street.
They’re likely to be two of the most important new products of the year for General Motors. Indeed, if rising fuel prices don’t crush the full-size pickup market entirely, the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra might just be the industry’s most important new models, at least from a volume standpoint.
In recent years, GM has been selling more than 900,000 full-size pickups a year - in 2005, the tally topped 998,000, but to move that much metal, the automaker has had to reply on steadily increasing incentives, slashing into profits once as large as the trucks themselves. The new models could help GM trim back those giveaways and put some much-needed cash in the bank.
So think of the Silverado and Sierra as, collectively, “the most important component of the most important part of our North American turnaround,” proclaimed GM Chairman Rick Wagoner.
No wonder, then, that GM pulled out all the proverbial stops to get Silverado and Sierra to market 13 weeks ahead of original plans. And where the prior generation of pickups took a full two years to launch in all the various body styles, powertrains, and payloads, GM intends to bring every new Silverado and Sierra variant to market within a rapid-fire five-month window, starting this autumn.
In all, noted truck boss Gary White, there will be models for each of two brands, with three different cab styles and another three different cargo boxes. GM will offer five different powertrains, ranging from a 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 to a 400-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8. And there will be five different suspension packages offered.
To appeal to the huge, personal use market, there also will be two distinctly different interiors, a fairly traditional truck-like cabin and a more upscale design. During a preview of the new trucks at the GM Proving Grounds, in
In the increasingly crowded, full-size pickup segment, details matter, and GM intends to offer an extensive list of standard features and even more brand-differentiating options.
The Crew Cab, for example, will boast rear doors able to swing open to 170 degrees. The Stabilitrak stability control system will be standard on the roomy version – and optional on Extended Cab versions. OnStar will be standard across the lineup. The automaker expects to see strong demand for the optional new Cargo Management System, which can be configured in a variety of ways to better contain items in the bed.
Visually, there are obvious similarities between the two models, though the Sierra has a more chiseled, upright look than the Chevy, with its bold, chrome-surround grille. Except for their doors, the Silverado and Sierra share no exterior sheetmetal, according to Lutz. And in a break from the past, the new pickups have significantly different shapes from full-size Chevrolet and GMC sport-utility vehicles.
Windshields, quite steeply raked for a truck, provide more than visual cues. They also improve aerodynamics which, in turn, mean better fuel economy. The 5.3-liter V-8, GM officials emphasized, delivers 300 horsepower and a combined 20-mpg fuel economy.
Mileage matters more than ever, recent data show. Large truck sales have been in a slump as pump prices have steadily nudged record levels. How that will affect GM’s new offerings “depends on whether fuel prices stabilize or decline” by autumn, said Lutz. If prices level off at or below $3 a gallon, the executive said he believes demand will be “just fine.” If prices rise more, he acknowledged full-size pickup sales could “decline a bit, but that’s okay, if we can grab a little more market share.”
Other factors could give GM some headaches.
And there’s little doubt that Ford will do whatever it can to prevent GM from damaging the franchise of its own F-Series pickups. On the same day the Silverado and Sierra were launched, Ford pointedly lowered prices and upped its own payload ratings.
GM is definitely betting big on its new Silverado and Sierra models, but the automaker is also going to face a tough battle in a very uncertain