General Motors will begin retooling full-size pickup assembly lines next year, at least according to GM’s head of U.S. sales, Don Johnson.
That seems to back up a statement made in January by GM North America president Mark Reuss, who said that the company was accelerating the development of some truck programs. On the other hand, it goes counter to what GM’s CEO Dan Akerson said in April, when he clarified that, “Trucks would not be a program that we’d move up in a mileage-sensitive market.”
So who’s right? Chances are that the truth lies somewhere in between these extremes. Johnson is clearly under pressure from GM dealers, who desperately want new full-size pickups on their lots. GM’s 2009 bankruptcy delayed development of a replacement full-size truck, and current models have been around since the 2007 model year. By giving a timeline for the start of plant retooling, Johnson isn’t committing to anything, and he carefully avoided discussing a time frame for launch of the new trucks.
Those close to the program insist that production won’t begin until 2013, and the trucks won’t hit dealer showrooms before the 2014 model year. The new designs are different enough from existing models that major retooling of plants in Michigan, Indiana and Mexico, will be required before the new trucks hit production. Beginning a staggered schedule of retooling in 2012 will allow GM to best use the resources available to them, and we’d expect to see an ample supply of full-size trucks in the pipeline before any plants are taken off-line.