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With tips for Fido-friendly travel, road trips on a budget, and much more, PlanYourRoadTrip.com is our favorite new trip-planning website.
|Spied: 2011 Chevrolet and GMC HD Pickups and Trucks|
|Written by Rich Truesdell|
|Tuesday, 01 September 2009 11:43|
While most of yesterday's interest on the part of spy photographers was on the 2011 Jetta/NMS, in reality, from a sales and profit standpoint, the Chevy and GMC heavy duty pickups testing completely undisguised are probably far more important.
When it comes down to it, especially for the Detroit Three, pickup trucks are what drives profit and nowhere is this more important than GM whose Chevrolet and GMC brands collectively outsell Ford's popular F-Series. Yesterday, before we hunted down Volkswagen's upcoming Jetta/NMS, we were able to get clear and uncontested shots of a number of GM's cash cow, its 2500 and 3500 series heavy duty pickups in a wide variety of Chevrolet and GMC configurations. It started when we were taking some snap shots of our Dodge Viper camera car--nothing like being inconspicuous when trying to be a spy, kind of like James Bond driving an Aston Martin--but when the engineers drive their rigs right in front of you at a Shell station, you feel obligated to pull out the Nikon.
Because these were testing sans camouflage, at first we almost ignored them but seeing the ballast/fuel tanks in the bed, the Michigan M-plates, and towing trailers, we immediately surmised that this first truck was involved in power train testing, which clearly turned out to be the case. Encountering the first Chevy truck at an out-of-the-way restaurant, outside our usual fertile hunting grounds, we knew that our four-hour trip from Southern California would not be in vain. As this shot clearly shows, we had encountered a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD, workhorse of Chevy's very strong work-focused product line. Revisions to the current model were postponed while GM marshaled its resources to maintaining momentum on its Volt and Cruze small car programs in the aftermath of last summer's spike in fuel prices to almost $150/barrel.
As we drove towards our destination, we expected to see one or two more vehicles but were shocked when over the next hour we encountered more than a half-dozen GM HD pickups, both driving as well as parked, which makes it easy to get crisp, clear images. And with just this image here of a Chevy 3500 HD with a stake/flat bed, no one made any attempt to block our shots. Maybe GM sees the value that having photographers shoot their upcoming vehicles and the attendant publicity it brings? In this case, as this 3500 HD pulled out, it threw up a cloud of dust that partially concealed the 3500 HD crew cab just 100 feet behind. Other than this one instance, the GM engineers made no attempt to stop us from getting our shots and even in this case, the driver was probably pulling out to continue his test program. It just so happened that I was standing right across the road from his planned exit.
The 3500 HD crew cab is a mainstay of the contractor market, and even though many are sold with just the base level trim and fewer options, because of the volumes involved across the entire heavy duty platform, these trucks generate significant profit dollars for GM. When outfitted with high-line trim for the recreational towing market, these are cash cows that had sustained all of the Detroit Three for many years and have resisted encroachment from Toyota and Nissan, thus their importance to the bottom line at GM, Ford, and Dodge. When fully outfitted will all the bells and whistles, with MSRPs at or above $50,000, they generate upwards of $10,000 gross profit per unit and require less of the profit-sapping incentives required to move their lighter duty counterparts.
While most of the vehicles we encountered were Chevrolets, we did spot two GMC variants before moving on to the Volkswagen that drove by as we were finishing up our static shots. What we believe is significant here is the upgrades to GM's acclaimed Duramax line of light-duty diesels will be updated to meet the tougher Federal emission standards coming on January 1, 2010 for all new diesel-powered vehicles. (These standards represent a 96 percent reduction from 1994 levels and a 90 percent reduction from today's standards, reports PickUpTrucks.com.) These diesel-powered trucks are an absolutely crucial component in GM's return to profitability and like current versions the updated engines will be part of the continuing Izuzu-GM alliance that started in 2001. They displace 6.6 liters and are offered across GM's 2500 and 3500 series Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra HD pickups as well as a lower-powered version for their full-sized vans.