During a quick interview with a Wall Street Journal reporter (a subscription may be required) at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Mark Reuss, head of GM's North American operations, said the new half-ton pickups from Chevy and GMC mark a change in direction for the segment.
When speaking about the long-anticipated 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500, he noted they would better reflect the changing desires of full-size new-truck buyers, meaning they would be more refined and not overdone. We're guessing Reuss is specifically talking about the old-school trend where truck makers made their pickups look (and drive) more like heavier-duty big rigs than family-friendly people-haulers.
Reuss emphasized that GM's two-truck strategy -- namely, having the smaller Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon and the Silverado and Sierra -- will do a better job serving GM customers who might not need more truck then their anticipated work needs require. He went on to say that having separate truck lines that compete better against the Toyota Tacoma and the Ford F-150 will better serve their diverse customers.
There's no question fuel economy will be a huge priority for every truck that comes to market from now on, but it's interesting that in the article, Reuss said GM is still looking at using a diesel in one of its light-duty pickups. It should be noted that the article doesn't clearly say if Reuss was speaking about the smaller Colorado/Canyon, which does offer small turbo-diesels in other global markets, or the coming Silverado/Sierra, which has not had a diesel since the late '80s and early '90s. Reuss did not offer further details about when and where such a diesel option would be decided.
Our guess is that a new turbo-diesel would show up in the smaller pickups, since they have much of the research and development and engineering costs sunk as those vehicles (with two TDI options) are already on sale in many Southeast Asian and South American markets. In fact, Reuss said many buyers interested in the small-truck segment want 90 percent of the capability but are looking for much better fuel efficiency. A turbo-diesel Colorado or Canyon would satisfy that customer.
As for a turbo-diesel in either of the coming GM half-tons (a la the Duramax 4.5-liter V-8), we think the chances are quite slim.
For now, all we can say is that it's nice that the GM exec is giving the idea some solid thought. More to come as we find exactly what powertrains the new GM half-tons will have on Dec. 13. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait quite a bit longer (at least six months longer) for the info to come out regarding the new Colorado and Canyon powertrains.