General Motors has pulled forward development of its GMT900, the wide range of high-profit full-size sport/utilities and pickup trucks, such as the Chevrolet Silverado caught here. Originally scheduled for the 2008 model year, the 900s and 925Cs (Cadillac Escalade, EXT, and ESV) will roll out beginning with the GMC Yukon at the Anaheim Auto Show in October, continuing at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, and throughout much of the year. The sport/utilities will go on sale first. Is it folly to pull forward big, fuel-inefficient trucks to bring in cash flow, just as SUV sales seem to be waning due to gas prices and crossover competition?Interiors, from those of the basic Chevrolet Silverado to the Cadillac Escalade models, are reportedly the best to date from GM in terms of tactile quality, fit and finish, and switchgear. The interiors are designed to take the automaker in a new direction.
But the accelerated development of the GMT900s means two interesting technologies are delayed or cancelled. GM has been working on a three-valve, small-block pushrod engine with variable valve timing. The technology, which offers fuel economy, performance, and emissions benefits, reportedly remains in the program for later introduction. The second budget-cut was a multilink independent rear suspension, launching first in the Cadillac Escalade. The IRS would eventually have migrated to pickup trucks and the Chevrolet Avalanche/Cadillac Escalade EXT, as well, creating deep beds without the high bed height found on the Ford F-150. The shortened development time and cost-cutting made GM revert to conventional live-axle rear suspensions. One critically successful technology in current trucks, Quadrasteer, will be dropped by the end of 2005 because the pricey system was a marketplace failure.
Although this prototype is well covered, we expect several styling cues from the 2003 Cheyenne concept to make it to production, including the unique wraparound bubble-back rear glass, more upscale interior treatments, and some of the concept's innovative cargo box features.
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