Report: GM Considering Active Aerodynamics for Big Pickups

Report: GM Considering Active Aerodynamics for Big Pickups

GM is studying whether automatically opening and closing the grille inlets of its full-size pickups could improve aerodynamics and gas mileage, according to a report in Automotive News.

"You have to look at more expensive solutions more aggressively unless you are going to give up payload. And we decided we don't want to do that," said Rick Spina, GM's global vehicle line executive for full-sized trucks.

So-called active aerodynamics are also being considered by Ford for its next-generation F-Series pickups.

[Source: Automotive News]


How much is this going to add to the price of a truck? Probably more then the 1/10th of a MPG it'll save in highway driving.

@Don: AN story says $60 to $100 per truck.

About time. I also wonder if adjustable ride height is en route?

For example, look at the new Chevy HD even with 20"s look at wide open fender clearance. I wonder if you could suck em down a couple inches on the highway (when empty) how much MPG would improve. Lets face it, vast majority are unloaded 95% of the time. Sucker down a couple inches and your punching a much smaller hole.

With the new GC having Ride height control I see the refreshed 2014 Ram having it as well.

I wouldnt be surprised if GM comes out with it also. It is probably the best way to save fuel (Unfortunatly it is also expesive). I doubt you would see much of an increase from opening and closing the grille inlets.

Other options would be depoyable chin spoilers, side skirts, and box covers. Highway driving is the only place you'd see a real benefit.

C'mon now, box covers don't help mpg...

It is nice to see you are referencing the 2012 F-150 story. Do you still expect the 2012 F-150 to be all new?

Geez, how about a half ton diesel with over 25mpg!?

Geez, how about a half ton diesel with over 25mpg!?

Posted by: Ken | Feb 15, 2010 2:29:52 PM

how about a full ton dually with 30.94 ken?

Re: a half ton diesel

"I wouldn't get my hopes up too high. It costs too much to make the trucks meet emissions."

How about deleting those stupid plastic fake hood vents, smooth out the hood, and work on the grille and bumper a bit. Probably get more of an advantage than some goofy motorized gimmick grille.

I am all for deleting those bogus hood scoops. Unfortunately, they are often stuck on by dealers and not the factory. You aren't fooling anyone with then, and it just breaks the airflow.

GM will find that they hardly ever open in northern states or Canada. The front end of these current shapes are like a sieve. As mpg improvements are only available at highway speed, a cheap passive design, that only allows air flow in at low speeds would be a better opition.

I'd like to see those vents work through a whole MN winter! Buy a car if you want MPG or just take off the DPF! EPA LOL~

The vast majority of people who drive HD pickups could easily get by with a half-ton or even a quarter-ton. I say this from experience. Stop trying to get 30 MPG out of a one-ton dually and drive a quarter-ton! Save the HD trucks for real hauling and work.

@Matt - it was just an experiment. It does show how little it would take to boost mpg. Closing off the grill for highway driving probably wouldn't be too hard for the manufacturers to do. Making it look good would be the hard part.

This is all part of the Catch-22 manufacturers have created to keep their pickup sales high.

Constantly increasing the GCWR of one-ton pickups to haul trailers up to 18,000 pounds is intended to get these people into pickup trucks. But in order to achieve those capacities, the trucks must run 4.10, 4.30, even 4.56 axle ratios, which of course kills fuel economy.

Getting these people into the Silverado/Sierra HD, Ram HD, or F-Series Super Duty keeps the pickup sales numbers up, which keeps the bottom line up for the manufacturers. Then you have stuff like this GM "active aerodynamics" to appease the customers complaining about MPG, knowing full well it's just more electronics to complicate the truck's operation. (Don't people think there are enough things to put a truck in "limp mode" as it is?)

But these customers are in the wrong vehicles.

They should be in medium duty trucks designed for that kind of weight and more. The truck wouldn't be maxed out like a pickup, they could run numerically-lower axles and get surprisingly good economy, and the truck would last far longer.

A lot of public and volunteer emergency service agencies have ditched the pickup/van-based Class 3/4 ambulances for class 5/6 medium duty rigs. They cost twice as much initially. But while the pickup/van-based rigs were only good for 2-3 years, the mediums are lasting 7-10 years... the purchase price difference recovered up to 2 times over. And no difference in fuel usage.

Too many people are forgetting the old adage of truck buying... "find the truck that meets all of your needs... then buy the next size up." If the trailer weight you want to pull is higher than the GVWR of the truck you're looking at, consider a bigger truck.

I think they would boost mileage more if they found a way to reduce weight. I mean, crew cabs are extremely popular now and a crew cab 4x4 has a curb weight of like 6,500lbs. That's 1000lbs more than my '95 Suburban 2500.

Speaking of hoods, you know I can't sit on the hood of a new GM HD without denting it badly, but it would seem I can sit on the hood of a Super Duty without damaging it. You listening, GM? That hood is too thin to be on a 'HD' truck.

I take it back, the Super Duty's hood dents too. Note to GM AND Ford: Use thicker sheetmetal.

GM's new HD pickups are rated to tow 20,000lbs, and they only have a 3.73 axle. So the 4.10, 4.30, and 4.56 axle you speak of is nowhere to be found in GM's new HD line up.

Perhaps you shouldn't be sitting on the hood? Thicker sheet metal would only add weight and cost to a vehicle, and further hurt it's fuel economy. I guess we should make sheet metal that doesn't bend when you get in a head on crash too?

I agree that box covers, and chin spoinlers would help. Maybe that could be an option, because some people wouldn't want the lower ground clearance with the spoiler, although if you mainly do freeway towing with a 5th wheel, it'll help.

There's tons of ways to make trucks more efficient:

-Lower ride height
-Lower weight
-Aerodynamic bottom
-Lighter wheels
-Aerodynamic front ends
-Bed covers (~1mpg at 65mph)
-Hood-covered wipers
-Smaller side-view mirrors

Of coarse most of those things also detract from their primary use as trucks.

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