SPECIAL TO CONTRACTOR
MILFORD, MICH. — Pledging to improve fuel economy without giving up performance, General Motors introduced its 2007 full-size pickup trucks Aug. 2 at a media event held at its testing grounds here.
Light-duty models of the Chevy Silverado and the GMC Sierra will be available from dealers in October, 13 weeks ahead of schedule, said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, who attended the release along with about 180 members of the automotive, trade and consumer media and other GM staff. The heavyduty models will follow in February 2007.
"They get better fuel economy — at least 1-mile-per-gal. improvement with some getting 2-mile-per-gal. improvement or higher," Wagoner said of the various models of Silverado and Sierra pickups. "Fuel efficiency was a priority in developing our new trucks. We have the first products on the market with more than 20 miles per gal. and have more than 300 horsepower.
"But we did not sacrifice performance for fuel efficiency."
Gary White, a GM North America vice president for fullsize trucks, followed Wagoner to the podium and noted that the '07 Silverado and Sierra models, completely redesigned for the first time since 1999, boast a number of other enhancements beyond using gas more efficiently. These include improved interior comfort, such as increased head-, leg-and hip room; safety systems; exterior styling, which differentiates the Silverado from the Sierra; and towing capacity, which in the light-duty models range up to 10,500 lb.
With gas prices at or above $3 per gal. in much of the country, however, fuel economy was given special attention at the release. The same morning of GM's media event, both The Wall Street Journal and USA Today published stories that attributed declining year-to-year July sales of SUVs and fullsize pickups from GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler to the rising cost of energy.
Both newspapers reported that Asian automakers had fared better with their fuel-efficient models than had their U.S. counterparts that depend more heavily on their sales of SUVs and pickups. Automotive journalists at the GM event noted, however, that July 2005 U.S. vehicle sales were exceptionally high due to employee discount pricing programs and that July 2006 sales may have been hurt further by consumers waiting for '07 models. GM's fourthquarter release of some of its '07 pickups should boost its 2006 sales.
Wagoner called GM's full-size pickups "the most important part of our North American turnaround plan."
Of particular interest to contractors, all '07 Silverado and Sierra trucks feature a new cargo management system that is complemented by a range of dealer-ordered accessory packages. Three rails that run the length of the box sides and the forward box wall are secured with high-strength anchors and incorporate lower and upper tracks. Four adjustable tie-down brackets are included with each system and can be located anywhere on the tracks, each rated for a load point of 500 lb.
A group of specific accessories are designed to integrate into the cargo management system, GM said. The rails enable the use of an overhead utility rack rated at 500 lb. loading capacity, a sliding diamond-plate toolbox, a sliding bed divider or diamond-plate side storage boxes. These accessories can use either the upper or lower rails, which allows for numerous combinations. The toolboxes use a coded lock, enabling the vehicle key to be used for locking and unlocking the boxes.