GM's all-new three-truck strategy was launched to offer each customer the right truck for their specific needs, according to the automaker. (PHOTO: GM) 
 -  Photo: GM

GM's all-new three-truck strategy was launched to offer each customer the right truck for their specific needs, according to the automaker. (PHOTO: GM)

Photo: GM

General Motors is utilizing a new “three-truck” strategy to overcome escalating CAFE standards. The three-truck strategy allows shoppers in the market for a pickup truck to be able to maximize fuel economy with the all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon while still having fuel-efficient choices with more capability in the Silverado and Sierra 1500 or HD models.

Chevrolet Colorado & GMC Canyon

The smaller trucks of the new three-truck strategy, the 2015-MY Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size trucks are focused on the more fuel-conscious truck audience.

“The mid-size truck has been a longtime staple in many fleets whose drivers require the utility of a truck, but don’t necessarily need the payload that a full-size truck offers,” said Mike Jones, product manager for mid-size pickups at GM Fleet & Commercial. “We’re already seeing interest from fleets that previously bought mid-size pickups and are excited to see all-new, more capable mid-size pickups back in the GMC and Chevrolet lineups.”

Both trucks are expected to achieve 200 hp from a standard 2.5L I-4 and an estimated 302 hp from the available 3.6L V-6 and maximum trailering ratings of at least 6,700 pounds.

All models are matched with a 6-speed automatic transmission with features that include auto-grade braking and a tow/haul mode. A 6-speed manual transmission is also available with the 2.5L engine in base extended cab/2WD models.

“The 2015 Colorado and Canyon are expected to deliver unprecedented power, towing, and payload — and offer outstanding fuel economy — in a modern, tough, and refined mid-size package. We expect them to redefine the segment and offer commercial customers more capability than they have been offered before in a truck this size,” said Anita Burke, chief engineer for the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickups.

Features on both models include the standard CornerStep rear bumper, which was pioneered on the 2014 Silverado and Sierra; two-tier loading system; anhd bed rail and tailgate protectors. The EZ Lift-and-Lower locking tailgate is an available feature. Additionally, WT, LT, and Z71 trims are available on the Chevrolet Colorado, in 2WD or 4WD.

“We think fleets will also be interested in the addition of a powerful and efficient Duramax 2.8L turbo diesel engine, which will be available in the mid-size pickups for the 2016 model-year,” Burke said.

GMC Sierra & Chevrolet Silverado

In 2014, the all-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups entered into the market. This year, Chevrolet and GMC have added the new 2015 Silverado and Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD pickups. The 2015 GMC Sierra HD and Chevrolet Silverado HD pickups (2500HD and 3500HD models) are offered with the Duramax 6.6L turbo-diesel engine mated to an Allison 1000 6-speed transmission.

A gasoline/compressed natural gas (CNG) bi-fuel engine is also offered. Trim levels for the GMC HDs include a Sierra base model, as well as SLE, SLT and Denali, while Silverado HDs offer Work Truck (WT), LT, and LTZ trims. The HDs have unique styling from the 1500 series models but take advantage of many of the same features such as:

  • EZ Lift & Lower tailgate.
  • Rear bumper CornerStep.
  • LED under-rail box lights.
  • Upper box tie-downs.

“We’ve continued to increase our truck offerings to meet the specific business needs of our customers, and in 2015 we will be the first, and only, manufacturer to offer a box delete option on our ½-ton pickups,” said Dan Tigges, full-size pickup product manager for GM Fleet & Commercial.

The Sierra/Silverado HD features include a standard CornerStep rear bumper, EZ Lift and Lower tailgate (standard on SLE, SLT, and Denali), standard locking tailgate, and standard upper tie-downs. StabiliTrak with Trailer Sway Control is also standard on all models, including 3500HD dually.

“Our goal is to provide trucks that make every day on the job easier, and our new 2015 pickups help reach that goal through a variety of available features, including increased interior storage, work-ready features throughout the cab and truck bed, and 4G LTE capability, which will turn the truck into a mobile hotspot,” Tigges said.

Regular, double cab, and crew cab models are offered across both lineups. The double cab now includes front-hinged rear doors, while crew cab models provide easier entry/egress and leg room. The 2500HD and 3500HD regular cab models are matched to an 8-foot box, while 2500HD double cab and crew cab models are available with 6-foot 6-inch or 8-foot boxes. The 3500HD double cab is offered exclusively with the 8-foot box, while 3500HD crew cabs are available with the 6-foot 6-inch and 8-foot boxes. Dual-rear-wheel configurations are also available on 3500HD.

Q&A with Jeff Luke

To understand the big picture behind GM’s new three-truck strategy, Work Truck magazine interviewed Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer, global full-size and mid-size trucks for GM.

WT: With the reintroduction of mid-size pickups, GM has been talking about its three-truck strategy. Why did you decide to take this route?

LUKE: We want to be able to offer each customer exactly the right truck for their specific needs. This is particularly important for commercial customers. If you tow 14,000 pounds of equipment on a regular basis, you need the confidence and capability of a heavy-duty pickup. For dependable all-around use — with great payload, towing, and fuel efficiency — it’s tough to beat a Silverado or Sierra 1500. And, for those who need a versatile, easy-to-maneuver pickup for urban or suburban use, the new mid-size Colorado and Canyon could be the perfect truck. Customers should not have to compromise when it comes to selecting the right tool for the job. Chevrolet and GMC will offer the broadest truck portfolio in the business.

WT: There has been a lot of discussion about reducing the weight of trucks to improve fuel economy. What approach is GM taking to reduce the weight of the trucks in its portfolio?

LUKE: We’re taking a number of steps to improve the fuel efficiency of our pickups, and reducing mass is a key focus. For example, we’ve strategically replaced traditional steel with lightweight, high-strength steels in the frames and cabs of the Silverado and Sierra. As a result, our trucks are lighter than those from major competitors, but still earn a five-star rating in the latest government crash tests, the only pickups to do so. Our new EcoTec3 engines use aluminum blocks and cylinder heads. We also use aluminum for hoods and suspension components to further reduce mass. These advanced materials, coupled with aerodynamic improvements and powertrain innovations, help save fuel and money, while delivering the capability and dependability truck customers depend on.

WT: Why did GM decide to reintroduce the Colorado and Canyon into the truck lineup?

LUKE: We saw an unmet opportunity, a customer need that we could fill better than our competitors. Mid-size pickups are ideal for businesses that require the utility of a truck with better maneuverability around town and offer good fuel economy. Historically, auto parts suppliers, maintenance services, pest control, and telecom companies have been big mid-size truck customers. We have seen a lot of enthusiasm in the commercial community since we announced the Colorado and Canyon. We expect customers who relied heavily on the mid-size truck segment in the past will be pleased that they will no longer have to buy more truck than they need.

WT: Why did you decide to offer diesel on the Colorado and Canyon in the second year of the program?

LUKE: We made the decision to offer a diesel option because of the feedback we’ve heard from both commercial and retail customers. The torque, fuel efficiency, and long-term durability that diesels offer are very appealing to many customers.

WT: Where have improvements have been made to the 2015 Silverado and Sierra HD pickups?

LUKE: Our HD pickups have a long history of strong towing and payload capabilities, and the new Silverado and Sierra HDs have been engineered to improve those capabilities even more. For 2015, we have class-leading conventional towing at 19,600 pounds, and class-leading payload of up to 7,374 pounds. At the same time, we’ve refined the trucks’ cruise control, auto grade braking, and diesel exhaust brake to enhance the driver’s confidence and control, particularly when towing a heavy trailer. When you combine this confidence with the quietest cab in the segment, long days in the truck are a lot less stressful. If you are driving an older HD pickup, you will be amazed at how much easier towing is with the new Silverado and Sierra HDs.

Also, we’ve expanded our bi-fuel CNG offerings to include all of the 2500HD and 3500HD single-rear-wheel models, in all cab styles, to meet the needs of a broader range of customers. Our CNG fuel system is covered by GM’s factory warranty, which brings peace of mind to customers.

WT: It’s been nearly a year since the new Silverado and Sierra 1500 pickups have been introduced. What feedback have you gotten from fleets?

LUKE: The Silverado and Sierra 1500 have been very well received. Commercial customers appreciate some of the new features like upper cargo tie-downs, built-in handholds in the bed and the CornerStep bumper. Also, the trucks have the best V-8 fuel economy in the market today, which helps reduce overall cost of ownership — a huge consideration for commercial customers.

As a result of the positive reception, we just announced that we will be the first in the industry to offer a 1500 series regular cab with a box delete option. This will allow customers who need special bodies like a platform or service body but don’t carry huge loads to save money at the fuel pump.

WT: Do you think your mid-size trucks will impact the sales of your full-size trucks?

LUKE: Mid-size truck customers have different needs and priorities than full-size pickup customers. There may be some current customers who choose the mid-size pickup to better meet their needs, but we also expect to see an influx of new and returning customers from older mid-size pickups, crossovers, and passenger cars. Finally, we expect Colorado and Canyon to bring in customers who may not have driven a Chevrolet or GMC in recent years. If they like the mid-size trucks, we have an opportunity to earn additional business from them.

WT: What can we expect to see in the future of the Chevrolet and GMC truck portfolio?

LUKE: For competitive reasons, we aren’t going to talk about details of our future trucks. But, we will continue to enhance the design and functionality of our trucks, while also improving their efficiency and versatility. We will also continue to focus on maintaining the capability that customers rely on, and on keeping overall cost of ownership as low as possible. 

About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the team's content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

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