TRUCK TRACKS

General Motors shuffles its fleet

Article December 28, 2000
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General Motors’ two entries in the truck market, Chevrolet and GMC, are doing well in 2000, thanks in part to a reorganization


General Motors’ two entries in the truck market, Chevrolet and GMC, are doing well in 2000, thanks in part to a reorganization of their operations.


Furthermore, the two lines have a change coming that should make things even better in 2001.


A new Fleet and Commercial Operations Group "with more focused attention on commercial truck customers, particularly those in the medium-duty market" was the highlight of changes when the two lines opened 2000. The group combines all of GM’s fleet, commercial and daily rental activities, the firm said.


The new group "provides a more streamlined point of contact for customers who previously had to deal with separate GM operations and philosophies for their varying needs."


"More timely delivery to dealers and customers and more precisely targeted delivery dates" were listed among early benefits of the reorganization.


Halfway through the 2000 model year, the manufacturer was able to report increased sales of its truck offerings. Specifically, the company said it was participating in a general increase in sales of highly maneuverable urban trucks.


Tilt-cab and low-cab-forward models are picking up sales because of their outstanding maneuverability. "That is a trait which sells the trucks that have it in increasing numbers to combat congestion in today’s cities," one GM truck official pointed out.


Hailing the cabs


Two truck offerings that rank high on maneuverability have been helping Chevrolet and GMC share in this market opportunity. The highly maneuverable pair includes T (tilt- cabtilt-cab) models (Circle 900) in the 5500, 6500, 7500 and 8500 sizes. The second offering with top urban appeal is the low-cab-forward WT5500 (Circle 901). Short length of the truck cab, its relative high position and designs that feature extensive glass areas contribute to the maneuverability of these two types of urban trucks from GM.


Isuzu, GM’s partner in Japan, where automotive people must understand urban congestion, has been a major contributor to the designs of both tilt-cab models and the WT5500, as well as some components used in those trucks.


T models are offered with a choice of diesels, the Caterpillar 3126B and the Duramax 7800. The former comes with a selection of 11 horsepower settings up to 300. The second engine is the first product of a joint GM-Isuzu effort under which Isuzu handles lead development work on all GM diesels. The current 24-valve offering has horsepower settings of 200 and 230.


Standard transmission in the WT5500 is the Allison AT545 automatic.


The General Motors lines have had difficulty meeting demand for their trucks in years of strong sales in the recent past. That problem should be eased in 2001 when much of GM’s big truck production is moved into facilities in Flint, Mich.


"Their highly regarded quality, best-in-class operating, safety and serviceability features" are credited by GM with making C (conventional) series trucks runaway favorites in the medium-duty market. GM offers them in weight classes 5 through 8, with most of their sales volume coming in Class 6-7 single axle models.


The Votect 7400 MD (Circle 902), a relatively new, fully electronic engine with horsepower ratings of 210 and 270, stands out as the only gasoline engine in the medium-duty field. GM said the ease with which the 270-hp version can be converted to use alternative propane fuel has brought in sales running to 1,500 units a year.


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