Auto blogFri, 13 Jun 2014
On May 27, a week before General Motors applied for a trademark for the word "Zora," GM filed a trademark application at the US Patent and Trademark Office for "GearOn," characterized as a "truck bed cargo system comprised of tiered storage cross rails, utility rack stanchions, cargo dividers and cargo tie down rings."
We have no idea what it will be or if we'll see it used on anything, but GM Authority reckons it could be GM's name for a pickup truck feature to rival the BoxLink system Ford introduced on the 2015 F-150. BoxLink has been described as having "dozens of configurations of stowable cargo ramps and lockable die-cast aluminum tie-down cleats," giving owners the ability to arrange the bed in they way they need and load unwieldy items like motorcycles without needing extra equipment.
Getting purely speculative, a month ago GM pickup truck engineers said there would be more and more regular updates for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra starting next year. Beyond the suspected capability and fuel economy changes GearOn could be one of the "neat things coming in a whole host of areas."
GMC is getting its heavy-duty trucks ready for the mud this summer with its All Terrain package for the Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD. Meant to blend style, tech and ruggedness, the pack includes a lot of extra chrome outside and an off-road package underneath.
The 2015 Sierra All Terrain HD trucks naturally come standard with four-wheel drive with an electronically controlled transfer case to handle things in the dirt. The Z71 off-road package is also standard, which includes Rancho twin-tube shocks, hill descent control and a skid plate. To add some style when off the beaten path, the pack includes chrome trim on the mirror caps, lower bumper and grille surround, plus LEDs around the headlights and 18-inch wheels (20-inchers are optional on the 2500HD). The 3500HD also gets chrome, adjustable outside camper mirrors. The interior receives a technology upgrade thanks to the standard rearview camera and IntelliLink infotainment that can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot through OnStar 4G LTE, read text messages and includes Siri Eyes Free for iPhone users.
The All Terrain package goes on sale on both trucks this summer and is offered on either the SLE or SLT trim levels in double cab and crew cab models. The standard engine is the 6.0-liter V8 with 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, but the Duramax 6.6-liter, diesel V8 with 397 hp and 765 lb-ft is also available. The gas engine is mated to a Hydra-matic six-speed automatic, and the diesel uses an Allison six-speed automatic. Scroll down to read the full announcement about these heavy-duty off-roaders.
The recalls keep rolling in from General Motors, evidently keen to avoid repeating the mistakes of the ignition-switch debacle and clean house. This time they're all coming at once, with five separate recalls announced together covering approximately 2.7 million vehicles.
The largest of the five actions involves over 2.4 million units of the previous-generation Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura in order to fix brake light wiring harness, which have been found to be susceptible to corrosion. The recall is separate from the 56k Aura sedans which GM recently recalled over faulty shift cables, not to mention the previous massive recall of 1.3 million vehicles - some of them the same models - but appears to have resulted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation that started with the G6 almost a year ago.
The second-largest campaign involves the 2014 Chevy Malibu, specifically those fitted with GM's 2.5-liter engine and stop/start system, approximately 140,000 examples of which has been found to have problematic brakes. The issue does not appear to be connected to the recall of 8k Malibu and Buick LaCrosse sedans (also involving brake woes) which we reported upon last week. Four crashes have been reported in such models, but GM admits it's not yet clear if the problem was a contributing factor in the accidents.
As Ford prepares to hit the market with its x-factor, aluminum-intensive F-150 and Ram sales stand tall enough to meet General Motors truck sales eye-to-eye, GM is putting the word out that it's going to add more features to its trucks and do so more regularly. An executive engineer for pickups told reporters that "a whole array" of changes are on the way as soon as the 2015 model year and then would likely come "the year after that, the year after that, the year after that."
Only GM knows the way it plans to go with its fullsize trucks, with almost everyone else - including its dealers - griping about market share at the same time as they applaud profits and hope for clarity and growth. GM raised prices on the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra not long after launch even as it was losing market share and getting called "the least successful large pickup launch over the last 15 years," further upsetting dealers, then Ram outsold the Silverado in March of this year and led GM to increase incentives. But transaction prices rose with the premium; in the first quarter of this year more than 37 percent of the trucks costing more than $40,000 were the Silverado and Sierra, leading one dealer to say of the Sierra, "You can't sell a cheap one," and the analyst who made that "least successful launch" comment to opine, "GM may have made the right call to go for price over share."
We won't know for a few months what any of these updates will be, but the rumored changes for the Silverado and Sierra appear to cover all the bases, including appearance, capability and fuel economy. Rumors run to higher gear counts, stop-start technology and diesel engines before brand-new pickups come for the 2019 model year, those next-generation models supposedly to be engineered with a lot more aluminum.
With all eyes fixed on General Motors in the wake of the ignition recall debacle, the auto giant has been carefully calling in a wide array of vehicles to fix anything and everything that could prove problematic. Just the other day it issued two separate recalls - one concerning the Cadillac SRX and another its heavy-duty pickups - and now it is issuing another.
This time the vehicles in question are the Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia, three fullsize crossovers based on GM's Lambda platform. In an estimated 51,640 units manufactured between March 26 and August 15, 2013, the engine control module has been found to incorrectly display the level of fuel in the tank.
As a result, owners are being notified to bring their vehicles in to their local dealers to have the ECU reflashed to fix the problem. View the full details in the announcement below from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
We dig simple solutions to problems. There's something highly gratifying about making a minute change to fix something, rather than tearing up the playbook. That's what GMC has done with the new Canyon midsize pickup.
When putting a car seat in, car seat manufacturers require that at least 80 percent of the seat's base fit on the bottom cushion. That's a big problem in extended-cab pickups like the Canyon, which feature jump seats with shorter bottom cushions, in place of the larger, more traditionally designed bench.
The Canyon gets around this with extendable jump seats - simply pop out the headrest and slot it into the bottom seat cushion, and the truck can now easily accommodate a child's seat.
There are more recalls to report General Motors, but these latest actions pertain to newer examples of the Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD. With so much scrutiny on the company's recall strategy, GM is under increasing pressure to call in defective models more quickly, and it appears to be doing so here.
Here in the US, the automaker is recalling 50,571 Cadillac SRX crossovers from the 2013 model year fitted with the 3.6-liter V6 because the transmission control module programming can cause a three- or four-second lag in acceleration at low speeds. The explanation filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states, "if the following sequence occurs within two seconds: during an upshift from first to second gear (8-10 mph), the driver then brakes the vehicle to less than 5 mph, and then accelerates again," the delay can occur. According to Automotive News, the recall effects 56,400 vehicles worldwide, and the company is not aware of any crashes caused by the problem. The fix consists of a transmission control module (TCM) reflash.
In a separate recall, GM is repairing 51 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickups from the 2015 model year in the US. In vehicles with diesel engines and dual fuel tanks, the nuts that connect the fuel pipe to each side of the transfer pump between the tanks may be improperly torqued, which could cause a fuel leak. Obviously, this could be a fire hazard. The remedy is simply tightening the hardware. According to GM spokesperson Alan Adler, there have been no fires actually caused by the potential leak. "Only 21 of the trucks are in customer possession and they can be fixed anytime because there are no parts involved. The others are being fixed at dealerships," Adler said in an email to Autoblog.
Chevrolet and GMC have clued us in to pricing of the bi-fuel option for the 2015 Silverado and Sierra 2500HD CNG and 3500HD CNG pickups: it starts at $9,500; we're still missing the rest of the pricing inferred by the word "starts," however. If you remember from the Chicago Auto Show introduction, the 6.0-liter V8 puts out 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque when drinking gas, 301 hp and 333 lb-ft when inhaling CNG.
Chevrolet figures that a bi-fuel Silverado HD is worth $2,000 in savings if driven 19,500 miles on CNG and 7,500 miles on gasoline in the span of a year, a recoup rate easily attainable to high-mileage fleet owners. It can be specced on double- and crew-cab pickups with single rear wheels, not on dualies.
The 2015 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana short-wheelbase passenger and cargo vans also get CNG options, starting at $10,825 for the three-tank system, and $12,090 for the four-tank system that can only be had on the cargo hauler. You'll find a bit more info on all of the permutations in the press release below.
Cadillac and Buick have taken the trophies in J.D. Power's latest Customer Service Index Study examining satisfaction with dealer service. Surveying more than 90,000 owners and lessees of 2009-2013 model-year cars, the study found that those with pre-paid maintenance packages were ten percent more likely to buy their next car from the same brand.
Dealer satisfaction scores have improved overall, Cadillac nabbed the luxury segment ahead of Audi and Lexus, taking the crown that Lexus held last year. Buick keeps the mass-market dealer satisfaction win in the family, finishing ahead of Volkswagen and last year's winner GMC. The study also found that service department use of tablets increased customer satisfaction, as did "best practices" like "providing helpful advice." Who knew?
You can find details on those and more findings in the press release below.
While we're still a ways off from the automotive awards season proper, where things like North American Car and Truck of the Year, Motor Trend's Car of the Year and Car and Driver's Ten Best are named, that doesn't mean there aren't trophies being handed out to deserving automakers. Ward's 10 Best Interiors being one of them.
As the name might imply, the magazine focuses on the very best interior treatments in the US market. Whereas some awards purposely exclude extreme, high-dollar offerings, Ward's considers them - the only requirement is that a vehicle has a "new or significantly redesigned interior."
Ward's offered up the list of winners in simple, alphabetical order, and it only seems fair to do the same: