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GM also sheds parts from its pickups to boost payload ratings [UPDATE]

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Commercial Trucks, Chevrolet, Ford, GM, GMC, Special/Limited Editions, Ram

Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

The row between Ford and Ram over who boasts the best-in-class tow rating for heavy duty pickups has revealed a number of things. Chief among them is a report that Ford removes items like the spare tire, jack, radio and center console from its trucks in a bid to lower its base curb weight, and therefore its gross vehicle weight.

For those that need a refresher, GVW is the combination of a truck's curb weight plus its payload. Gross vehicle weight rating, meanwhile, is the maximum amount of weight a vehicle can handle, and it's also used to classify pickups. In Ford's case, tweaking the GVW by removing parts allows it to station the F-450 among the so-called Class III pickups. This is despite the fact that it's hewn from stiffer stuff than the average Class III and has the elevated towing capacity to prove it.

Ford explains away these deletions, saying a customer could order their vehicle in such a manner. It has also come to light that Ford is not the only automaker to engage in such practices.

General Motors started deleting the rear bumper and swapping in alloy wheels for heavier steel wheels for its 2014 pickups (both light-duty and heavy duty models). This is despite originally claiming that it did no such thing, a statement GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson told Automotive News was a mistake.

Wilkinson, like Ford, justifies the practice, explaining to AN, "You can delete the rear bumper, which some business customers do so they can install a custom bumper or other equipment on the back of the truck."

What are your thoughts on this? Is the process for figuring out tow ratings and GVWR too easy to manipulate? We want to hear from you. Head into Comments, and let us know what you think.

UPDATE: This story originally stated that gross vehicle weight rating was a combination of curb weight and payload. To clarify, GVWR is a fixed figure, which a vehicle's curb weight and payload cannot exceed. The story has been edited to reflect this.

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GM also sheds parts from its pickups to boost payload ratings

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Commercial Trucks, Chevrolet, Ford, GM, GMC, Special/Limited Editions, Ram

Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

The row between Ford and Ram over who boasts the best-in-class tow rating for heavy duty pickups has revealed a number of things. Chief among them is a report that Ford removes items like the spare tire, jack, radio and center console from its vehicles in a bid to lower its base curb weight and therefore keep the truck's gross vehicle weight rating down.

For those that need a refresher, GVWR is the vehicle's curb weight plus its maximum payload. A lower GVWR allows Ford to station its F-450 among the so-called Class III pickups, despite the fact that internally, it has the makings of a more brutish Class IV truck.

Ford explains away these deletions, saying a customer could order their vehicle in such a manner. It has also come to light that Ford is not the only automaker to engage in such practices.

General Motors started deleting the rear bumper and swapping in alloy wheels for heavier steel wheels for its 2014 pickups (both light-duty and heavy duty models). This is despite originally claiming that it did no such thing, a statement GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson told Automotive News was a mistake.

Wilkinson, like Ford, justifies the practice, explaining to AN, "You can delete the rear bumper, which some business customers do so they can install a custom bumper or other equipment on the back of the truck."

What are your thoughts on this? Is the process for figuring out tow ratings and GVWR too easy to manipulate? We want to hear from you. Head into Comments, and let us know what you think.

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GM thinks Colorado and Canyon midsize trucks will lure crossover buyers

07/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Marketing/Advertising, Chevrolet, GM, GMC

The invitation to come out and sample product at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, MI is rarely dull, and after spending this morning driving preproduction versions of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon all we can say is... under strict embargo. Sorry, America, we were as excited as many of you are to learn more about GM's new midsize truck range and take note of how they go down the road, but it's going to be September before we're allowed to share that with all of you. Here's to sweet suspense.

While we might not be able to talk about refinement or handling yet, we did find some of the product positioning and marketing statements from GMC and Chevy officials on hand at the program to be pretty interesting.

Of course, we all know that the literal competitive set for Canyon and Colorado is comprised of two comparatively ancient Japanese midsize trucks: the Toyota Tacoma (which currently owns this segment) and the Nissan Frontier. The Frontier's bones are as old as the 2005 model year, with 2009 marking the last time the truck was updated. The Taco was also launched in 2005, though it did see a freshening for 2012. The point remains that, in every facet from powertrain to dash plastics, the GM midsize truck twins are going to look positively space age by comparison when they hit the market for MY 2015.

Interestingly though, The General isn't simply shooting for its aged, small-truck competitors when it comes to the planned conquest of customers. The automaker believes that both Chevy and GMC products will offer an interesting alternative to small-crossover shoppers as well. In fact, the engineering and marketing teams were possessed of this notion enough to bring along a Ford Escape as one of the competitive drives for our test day in Milford.

GM believes that both Chevy and GMC products will offer an interesting proposition to small-CUV shoppers.

Certainly, images of the Canyon and Colorado interiors that we've seen indicate that these two trucks will have cabins worthy of suburban tastemakers; full of the available comfort and convenience amenities that CUV shoppers are so keen on. Just as in their fullsize brothers, we expect these smaller trucks to be comfy places in which to pass your daily commute. We'd argue that the exterior styling of the trucks is a fit with the CUV ethos, as well.

Looking deeper, we can also see that the new trucks will probably offer reasonable tradeoffs in terms of utility, performance, mileage, space and price. Just comparing base models, the Chevy Canyon's 2.5-liter four-cylinder, rated at 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque, is slightly stronger than the average output of four-bangers from Ford, Honda and Toyota small crossovers. Now, the Canyon is likely to be somewhat thirstier than the 26 combined miles per gallon that those three offer, but it'll do so will the decided boost in tow/haul utility is the most obvious pickup strong suit.

And, of course, while we don't yet have pricing, sticking around the low $20k starting MSRPs of the best-selling small crossovers seems quite doable. Bare bones Tacoma and Frontier trucks start at $18,125 and $20,510, respectively, leaving a good gap to appropriately price the content-plus new trucks, and still stay in-budget for a typical CUV shopper.

Those tradeoffs won't work for a lot of CUV buyers, but the argument on paper is quite a bit more compelling than we would have initially thought. GM apparently believes it, as it's jumping with two feet into a segment that most automakers have abandoned or at least let wither on the vine. What say you? Would a more livable, frugal pickup make sense to you as a cross-shop with a smaller crossover? Let us know in Comments.

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GM announces 6 recalls covering nearly 720k cars

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM, GMC

General Motors Government Stock

General Motors has announced yet another sprawling recall campaign, with six separate elements covering 717,950 vehicles on US roads. At this point in 2014, it's starting to seem like there are more days with a GM recall than without. Perhaps most troubling about this latest volley, though, is that every vehicle is from the past few years, indicating that GM's quality woes may not be limited to pre-bankruptcy vehicles.

The largest element of this latest campaign covers 414,333 units, and includes the 2011 to 2012 Chevrolet Camaro, 2010 to 2012 Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX and the 2011 to 2012 Buick Regal and LaCrosse. Only vehicles with powered, height-adjustable seats are covered. In these particular cars and crossovers, the bolt that secures the height adjuster actuator may loosen of its own accord and in some cases fall out completely. If this happens, the seats will be able to move both up and down. GM claims the vehicles are safe to drive, provided drivers don't vertically adjust their seats. This particular issue has caused one crash and three injuries.

The largest element of this latest campaign covers 414,333 units, including the Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox, GMC Terrain, Cadillac SRX and the Buick Regal and LaCrosse.

Next up, the 2014 Chevrolet Caprice and SS, 2013 to 2014 Cadillac ATS, 2014 CTS and ELR, 2013 to 2014 Buick Encore and 2014 to 2015 GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado pickups (both light-duty and heavy duty models) are being recalled due to an "incomplete weld on the seat hook bracket assembly." 124,008 vehicles are affected by this problem, which is being blamed on a sudden loss of power to a laser welder at factories. Dealers will inspect the weld and replace the seat track if necessary. However, GM claims that less than one percent of welds will require track replacement. There have been no reported accidents or injuries for this issue.

The Buick Regal is getting pinged with a second recall, covering 2011 to 2013 models. It's joined by the 2013 Chevy Malibu, in an action that covers 120,426 vehicles. This is the least severe of the latest round of issues, though, as it has to do with the turn signal bulbs. These vehicles use a pair of bulbs in the signal array. Should both bulbs burn out, the driver is notified in the typical fashion (a rapidly flashing signal in the instrument cluster). If only one bulb burns out, though, there is no way of warning the driver. Unsurprisingly, this issue hasn't lead to any crashes, while the fix requires a simple reprogramming.

The 2014 Chevy Impala is also the subject of an action that's particular to models with belt-driven electric power steering. A bad electric ground to the power steering control module can lead to sudden loss or reduction in steering assistance. The car won't become uncontrollable, although owners will be forced to live with manual steering until a trip to the dealer can be arranged. GM is blaming paint that may have gotten behind a nut on a "power steering control module ground stud" for this problem. There are no crashes being blamed on this issue.

Korean-built Chevy Spark minicars from model years 2014 and 2015 are being recalled, in an action that covers some 1,900 units. In this particular case, GM is claiming the lower control arm bolt was not fastened to specs, which, in a worst-case scenario, could lead to a separation of the control arm from the steering knuckle. Dealers will take a look at both control arms to assure they've been tightened to specs.

Finally, 22 units from the new-for-2015 Chevy Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon Denali SUV range are being recalled due to poorly connected interior roof rails. An incorrect retaining nut is being blamed for the problem, which could puncture or tear the roof-mounted airbags, should they deploy. Of the 22 units in this action, eight are currently in dealer inventories.

GM has summarized this latest recall in the press release below. Scroll down for a look.

Continue reading GM announces 6 recalls covering nearly 720k cars

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GM confirms 2015 Silverado, Sierra to get 8-speed automatic

07/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Tech, Commercial Trucks, Chevrolet, GMC, Off-Road

2015 Chevrolet Silverado

When viewed alongside the next Ford F-150 and the Ram 1500, there is one thing that seems to be missing from the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Where the F-150 will rely on turbocharging and aluminum architecture and the Ram sports an eight-speed automatic and an air suspension, the General Motors twins lack a big, calling-card feature. They're very good, very refined trucks, but one could argue that they're not terribly innovative.

And while it might not be as flashy a feature as air suspension or a lightweight skin, the Silverado and Sierra will get their own eight-speed automatic for 2015, a transmission that will be paired with the company's Ecotec3 6.2-liter V8. The new cogswapper will also find its way into the GMC Yukon Denali, but for now, there's no indication why the Cadillac Escalade, Suburban, Tahoe and standard Yukon are being left out.

According to GM, the new gearbox is about the same size and weight as the current Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed. By the time the new powertrain combination enters production late this year, the EPA will almost certainly have gotten around to certifying the vehicles' fuel efficiency. Until then, feel free to speculate. The current Silverado with the 6.2 and six-speed auto returns 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway. How much do you think the eight-speed will improve those figures? Scroll down for the official press blast from General Motors, and then head into Comments.

Continue reading GM confirms 2015 Silverado, Sierra to get 8-speed automatic

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Chevy Express 1500, GMC Savana 1500 get the axe

07/16/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Minivans/MPVs, Chevrolet, GMC, Special/Limited Editions

Chevrolet Express 1500

Fans of truck-based, light-duty vans can officially pour one out for the Chevrolet Express 1500 and GMC Savana 1500, as General Motors has officially put its long-serving big/little rigs out to pasture. Things aren't quite as sad as they sound, though. The heavier-duty 2500 and 3500 vans will soldier on, in order to duke it out with the largest members of Ram ProMaster, Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter families.

The move does seem to make a lot of sense. According to GM, customers only purchase the 1500-spec Chevrolet 23 percent of the time, while the GMC captures a mere 7 percent of the Savana family's sales. With numbers like that, it's no shock that GM thinks it can shift some of its buyers into its van family's more capable variants. "We knew we could move a lot of our 1500 customers into 2500-series territory," said GM's Joe Langhauser, the product manager for the company's full-size vans.

It's not just simple sales figures dictating the move, though. The 1500 line is taking up some valuable factory space that will be better spent on an eagerly anticipated new product.

"With the Colorado coming into the [Wentzville] facility, there was a lot of unique space that was dedicated to the 1500-series van line. We were able to utilize that space much more effectively for [the midsize] trucks," Langhauser said.

The last 1500, a Chevy-badged cargo van (pictured above), was screwed together last week.

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Hot sales have Detroit automakers shortening summer shutdowns

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Plants/Manufacturing, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GM, GMC, Jeep, Lincoln, Earnings/Financials

US-TRANSPORTATION-CHRYSLER

Back in May, there was speculation that the Detroit Three automakers would maintain or perhaps even extend their traditional summer shutdowns, mostly due to a bitingly cold winter that saw below-freezing temperatures infiltrate the southernmost reaches of the US, putting a chill on auto sales. Now, though, the numbers are in, and thanks to some promising sales figures, it looks like some domestic line workers are going to be working clear through July, in some cases.

According to Automotive News, Ford has slashed its traditional two-week hiatus for factory workers in half at four of its plants, while both Chrysler and General Motors will keep factories running nonstop (two plants in Chrysler's case and a third of GM's factories).

This is, as we said, thanks to some positive numbers. Chief among those is the Seasonal Adjusted Annual Rate, which was at an eight-year high of 17 million units. Individual figures were less promising. GM, embroiled in its recall scandal, still saw a one-percent increase while Ford dropped six percent in year-over-year sales. Chrysler was the big winner, though, with a nine-percent jump in June.

As for which factory workers will be burning their summer days indoors, Ford will trim the vacations of the teams at its Chicago and Kansas City, as well as both of its Louisville, KY plants. Those factories cover the Ford Taurus, Explorer, F-Series, Escape and Expedition, as well as their Lincoln counterparts.

Chrysler's Jefferson North and Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, in Detroit and metro Detroit, respectively, will remain open. Jefferson manufactures the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango, while SHAP is home to the Chrysler 200. GM, meanwhile, is set to maintain production at its truck and SUV factories in Arlington, TX (Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade), Bowling Green, KY (Chevy Corvette) and Flint, MI (Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra).

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GM recalling 8.4M cars, 8.2M related to ignition problems

07/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Trucks/Pickups, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Crossovers/CUVs, Hatchbacks, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM, GMC, Pontiac, Saab

GM's Barra Says Not Planning Further Ignition Switch Dismissals

GM Recall ChartGeneral Motors today announced a truly massive recall covering some 8.4 million vehicles in North America. Most significantly, 8.2 million examples of the affected vehicles are being called back due to "unintended ignition key rotation," though GM spokesperson Alan Adler tells Autoblog that this issue is not like the infamous Chevy Cobalt ignition switch fiasco.

For the sake of perspective, translated to US population, this total recall figure would equal a car for each resident of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, the District of Columbia, Vermont and Wyoming. Combined. Here's how it all breaks down:

7,610,862 vehicles in North America being recalled for unintended ignition key rotation. 6,805,679 are in the United States.

  • 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue
  • 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero
  • 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am
  • 2000-2005 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2000-2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • 2004-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix
A second group of vehicles* are being recalled for a slightly different ignition key rotation issue (more details below). 616,179 of these vehicles are in North America, with 554,328 found in the United States.
  • 2004-2006 Cadillac SRX
  • 2013-2014 Cadillac CTS
Additionally 20,134 North American vehicles are being recalled because "insulation on the engine block heater power cord (if equipped) may become damaged during very cold conditions." 2,990 of these vehicles are in the United States.
  • 2011-2014 Chevrolet Cruze
  • 2012-2014 Chevrolet Sonic
  • 2013-2014 Chevrolet Trax
  • 2013-2014 Buick Encore
  • 2013-2014 Buick Verano
117 vehicles in North America "may not have had a 'Superhold' joint fastener torqued to specification at the assembly plant." 106 of these vehicles are in the US.
  • 2014 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2014 Buick Regal
  • 2014 Cadillac XTS
12,002 vehicles in North America are being recalled because "an overload in the feed may cause the underhood fusible link to melt due to electrical overload, resulting in potential smoke or flames that could damage the electrical center cover and/or the nearby wiring harness conduit." 9,371 of the affected vehicles are in the US.
  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD (with auxiliary battery)
  • 2007-2011 GMC Sierra HD (with auxiliary battery)
Finally, 188,705 SUVs in North America are being recalled due to "a possible electrical short in the driver's door module that could disable the power door lock and window switches and, in rare cases, overheat the module." Here, 181,984 of these vehicles are in the US.
  • 2005-2007 Buick Ranier
  • 2005-2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer
  • 2005-2007 GMC Envoy
  • 2005-2007 Isuzu Ascender
  • 2005-2007 Saab 9-7X
  • 2006 Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT
  • 2006 GMC Envoy XL
The Cadillac models in the second grouping* have been found to be subject to unintended key rotation because of accidental bumping of one's key fobs (a condition similar to the June 13 Camaro recall), whereas the other, larger group of older vehicles is not subject to bumping. In either case, this is not like the infamous Chevy Cobalt ignition switch issue - the switch in these vehicles meet GM specifications, the company says the problem is with the key design itself.

The solution won't be a new ignition switch at all, it will be sending additional detachable key rings to owners (allowing drivers to disconnect their car key from the rest of their key chain to reduce strain on the system) and/or inserts designed to fit within the ignition key head itself to alter the keyring attachment loop from a slot to a hole (because the slot can cause the weight of the keychain to hang asymmetrically, thereby increasing the amount of torque on the key and as a result, the switch.

Company spokesperson Alan Adler, tells Autoblog that GM "changed the [key] design in late December of 2010," so vehicles built after that time are not affected by the issue.

GM is aware of seven crashes, eight injuries and three fatalities related to these issues. "The fatal crashes occurred in older model fullsize sedans being recalled for inadvertent ignition key rotation. There is no conclusive evidence that the defect condition caused those crashes," GM said in a press release. Scroll down to read the automaker's full statement.

Continue reading GM recalling 8.4M cars, 8.2M related to ignition problems

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2015 Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra can tow up to 12,000 pounds

06/19/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Chevrolet, GM, GMC

GMC Sierra

Think back to the launch of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado. At the time, General Motors happily trumpeted that its fullsize pickup could tow up to 11,500 pounds when properly equipped - impressive stuff, no doubt. But now, revised tow rating practices have been put into place, called SAE J2807. And with these new methods of testing, GM can now officially rate both the Silverado and its GMC Sierra twin as being able to tow up to 12,000 pounds.

Of course, not all Silverado and Sierra models are capable of this feat. In fact, because of SAE J2807, most of the truck models have actually had decreases in tow ratings from the 2014 to 2015 model year. For example, a 2014 Silverado Crew Cab with the 5.3-liter V8, 5.7-foot box and 3.73 rear axle was rated at 11,200 pounds in 2014, but has since been reduced to 10,800 in 2015. Same goes for the Sierra.

But for 2015, both the Silverado and Sierra can be had with a more powerful 6.2-liter V8, as well as a Max Trailering Package that includes a 9.76-inch rear axle, heavy-duty rear springs, revised shock tuning, improved cooling and a new trailer brake controller. There are also four- and seven-pin, bumper-mounted connectors, a trailer hitch (duh), and a G80 locking rear differential. This configuration, with either model, is the only way you can actually tow 12,000 pounds.

That said, when we first drove the Silverado in 2013, we were cautiously optimistic about that tow rating. "We put 8,600 pounds of trailer and skid steer behind the new Silverado, and while the truck could confidently pull the load about, we'd think twice about knocking on that 11,500 number's door," former Autoblog editor Zach Bowman wrote in his First Drive story. Still, the fact that these trucks are capable of hauling such heft is mighty impressive.

For all the details about SAE J2807 and the full list of tow ratings for the 2015 Silverado and Sierra, scroll down to read the separate press releases.

Continue reading 2015 Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra can tow up to 12,000 pounds

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eBay Find of the Day: 1976 GMC Motorhome is a jolly green giant

06/19/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Auctions, GMC, Special/Limited Editions

1976 GMC Motorhome auction

If you have a need to relive the 1970s, then here is the vehicle for you. This groovy blast from the past is a 1976 GMC Motorhome currently for auction in Florida on eBay Motors, and it is one green machine - just not in the modern sense.

The seller claims that this beast has had just two owners and has covered a mere 61,308 miles in its decades on the road. It's reportedly never been restored or repainted and comes with all of the necessary books and manuals. A 7.5-liter (455-cubic-inch) Oldsmobile V8 with a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission powering the front wheels propels this far-out RV, and the double set of rear wheels out back use a self-leveling air suspension to provide a cushy ride.

The purported low miles and good condition really make this GMC a stand out, though. The exterior combination of lime stripes and beige with just a touch of green is like nothing else on the road today. Plus, the polished bumpers and wheels make it all pop. Inside, it's even better with monochromatic green upholstery and shag carpet. It features everything you'd ever need on a long trip, including a bathroom, kitchenette and lots of seating. The only hint of modernization is an HD TV next to the stove, but its size is a perfect fit for the hole there.

The fact this motorhome has made it this long without more updates is somewhat miraculous. Hopefully, the person that buys it has enough restraint to leave the styling as-is to keep it looking like this for another 38 years. As of this writing, this '70s relic has bidding at $18,400 with the reserve not yet met, and the auction ends on June 20. Can you dig it?

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