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ThomCannell

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  1. Chief engineer was asked about chain replacement. He asserted no replacement for the "life of the engine". My thought, 100-250K miles. YMMV.
  2. Thom Cannel: Article & Photos Zane Merva: Photos & Video GM-Trucks.com June 25th, 2019 By now you prospective 2020 Chevrolet Heavy Duty owners are over the Ho-Hum of our 2020 Silverado 3.0-liter story (we are totally Ho-Ho-Ho and Hmmm, can’t wait for a longer test!) and looking at the Alpha Dog, the 35,500-pound tow-rated Silverado Heavy Duty and its over 50 industry firsts including an updated diesel engine and all-new 6.6-liter gas engine. Let’s get to it. Where to start? With its amazing trailer towing features that include 15-view camera and ability to memorize the features of five different trailers? How about the Durabed with its class-leading cargo volume and all-steel construction with a plethora of cargo tie-downs? Maybe you’re gobsmacked by the corner and bed steps with, now, plenty of toe room and 500-pound weigh-holding capacity? Is it the power tailgate that remotely lifts or lowers? An ability to hold first gear while towing maximum weight? Or, is it all of these? Chevrolet states that Heavy Duty trucks are working vehicles, whether towing a gooseneck horse trailer or flatbed and whether gas or diesel-powered. They further tell us that, compared to light duty trucks where 84-percent are retail and 12-percent go to fleets, Heavy Duty buyers are 70-percent retail and 30-percent fleet. Further, Work Truck and Custom trucks make up the volume; LTZ and High Country capture an even larger share of the market for personal and dual use buyers, with mid-trim LT trucks straddling fleet and personal use. Hence the five available trim levels to suit the needs of every buyer. There is no mistaking that the 2500HD and 3500HD is kin to the 1500, yet only roof sheet metal is common. Everything about the new HD trucks was designed to be functional from larger grille to lower side-height bed, to improved box and bed steps. It’s massively bold with strong character lines, huge fender wells and functional hood scoop. Both the 2500HD and 3500HD are distinctive and clearly Chevrolet. For 2020, every frame is boxed and steel, there’s a model with built-in gooseneck cross-body reinforcements and bed holes, 4X4 models can option Autotrac two-speed electronic transfer case, the DEF tank is relocated inside the frame rails with the filler under the fuel door, plus a 10-segment DEF gauge measures content. A statistic to toss off at your microbrewery; within the total HD segment, 54-percent are Crew Cab diesels while within fleets, 62-percent are gas-powered, with 34-percent of fleets buying Crew Cabs and diesel power. And if you’re wondering where the 2020 Silverado HD you’d like to scope out on your dealer’s lot is hiding, Crew Cabs began delivery last week with Regular Cab, Double Cab and Duallies hitting the streets this fall. Restrain yourselves. Let’s now talk about the biggest reasons for owning a Heavy Duty Chevrolet (or GMC). It’s towing. And if you’ve noticed comments to our 15-camera article, there’s some passion about technology. Realistically, as many HD trucks are sold to new truck owners towing large RVs, anything that improves road safety is flat wonderful. If you further read Chevy’s research that says 12-percent of pickup drivers have gotten into a fight with their significant other over trailer hookup, you’ll understand executive chief engineer Tim Herrick’s comment that “We save marriages.” Having driven every truck segment from light duty to tractor-trailers we feel you. So, when research says a majority of drivers are stressed by towing, please offer them a 2020 Silverado sales brochure and a tissue (and save a tissue for yourselves ‘cause you might be exaggerating your tow-cool). So let’s dive deeper into the subject. Everyone has a hitch camera these days, with overlaid guidelines to put you within a few inches, front-to-back, of the ball. Chevy goes further with a selectable view that looks own over the ball. Even those who haven’t set a hitch in years—or never—can get within a quarter-inch of perfect. And an APB or automatic parking brake engages automatically so that when you lift off the brake pedal you don’t roll off the ball. Sticking with the non-pros and semi-pro haulers, there’s a checklist for your trailer, the ability to check the lights after connecting the trailer’s electrical system, a tow-haul reminder and VIN-specific labels for the trailer itself. If you option the smart trailer integration, which is designed to work with ASA Electronics iN∙Command® control system, you have control over trailer features like heat and air conditioning through the infotainment system or the myChevrolet mobile app. And nobody should turn down the ability to monitor trailer tire pressure and temperature. Blowouts are never convenient and most often low-pressure and highly temperature related, according to Michelin Tire Company. We found the 15-view system difficult to get used to during the first five minutes, particularly when backing; our mirror habits are embedded. Yet, simulating tight turns where we could see along both the tight and far side, pulling forward into a tight box, or backing (after a few tries), we really came to appreciate what the system could do. Then, on the highway with an 18,000-pound box trailer behind us, mirrors just didn’t cut it compared to the high-tech camera system. We were driving on twisting two-lane blacktop in mountain foothills. Using the entire camera tech set, particularly the ability to look out the back of the trailer, we could easily pick places to pull aside to let faster cars pass us. It took less than an hour to become a must-have feature. Later we towed a smaller skid-steer on a flatbed without the system and truly missed it despite using our slide-out mirrors fully extended. This naturally leads to the two engines offered in the 2020 Heavy Duty, first the 6.6-liter V-8 purpose-built gas engine that delivers 22-percent more torque than its predecessor. Now it delivers 401 horsepower and 464 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 6.6L isn’t a just a 6-mm stroked 6.0L, rather it takes advantage of the Gen5 small block architecture and has a unique cast iron block with forged powdered-metal connecting rods and forged crankshaft. The most significant change is the addition of Direct Injection. It’s all new, an industry first for the heavy-duty market and new to GM trucks. Direct Injection allows a compression ratio of 10.8:1 Quoting Mike Kociba, a GM engineer and part of the Small Block team, “Our suite of changes allows us to hit class-leading gasoline engine torque, at 464 foot-pounds at a lower engine speed than the outgoing six-liter was optimized for. I'm proud of its 401 horsepower, which is SAE Certified; no games, it’s legitimate. Customers can have confidence they're going to tow whatever trailer they need.” Don’t forget the larger cooling fan and newly designed water pump. The pump drives the fan through a one-inch shaft with unique bearing design to handle greatly increased thrust loads. Plus, the oil pump is now has variable output, so there’s less parasitic losses. The 6.6L engine features an aluminum oil pan, nylon 6-6 air intake, and stainless steel exhaust manifolds unique for the Heavy Duty market. Like related light duty Gen 5 motors, this motor has variable dual-equal valve actuation, massive Gen5 valves and uses an actuator that’s mounted to the front cover to control intake and exhaust valves. The new block features inter-bore cooling, that is, coolant flows through Siamesed bores, notably in the upper bores where there’s a tendency to generate higher temperatures. “Small engines with turbochargers allow them peak torque off idle,” Mike told us, “but for heavy duty we don't want that complexity. For the Heavy Duty segment we (General Motors) have durability requirements—Global Engine Durability—that are unique stringent. We know our customers and why we focus on durability. If they can't use their truck today, they might not get paid.” When towing a heavy load, we loved the diesel’s engine braking capability. What about the gas engine? In Tow-Haul, up-speeds caused by downhill driving—together with intelligence based on throttle position—the powertrain produced seamless downshifts. It’s not quite the same as engine braking, but the trailer was “only” 12,000 pounds. Regardless, it was a comforting addition to stress-free towing. The six-speed transmission used for 2020 Heavy Duty GM trucks is an updated 6L90 with an uprated torque converter and clutch pack. According to GM engineer Rich Mardeusz those changes were simple. When it came to the torque converter, things changed. “We looked at the components from a heavy-duty diesel torque converter and a high-output gas torque converter and then took the torque-carrying components from the diesel and married them to the spring and damping components from the gasoline torque converter. That’s what was needed to accommodate the approximate 22 percent across-the-board torque increase.” Those changes also damp out firing frequencies from the gasoline V-8 engine, making the powertrain smoother. Since a majority of buyers opt for the diesel engine, let’s look at that. Also displacing 6.6-liters, the Duramax turbo-diesel makes 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque. It’s coupled to a 10-speed Allison transmission. There were minimal changes to the engine for 2020. They include a 28-inch fan for cooling; upgraded oil cooler—now 19 plates instead of 14 and the cylinder head gasket was improved. Engine brake capacity is greater by 14-percent and while there’s a button for manual activation, while in Tow-Haul mode engine braking is automatically activated at certain RPMs. It’s Chevrolet keeping you safe. Thus, under the new control system the powertrain will recognize any need for the engine brake and activate automatically. For instance in driving down hill and forgetting to shift, the higher RPM means automatic activation. We did experience this with the18,000 pound box trailer and it is amazingly transparent and surprisingly quiet. You don’t have to downshift on modest hills, as the system will totally keep you at, or near your desired speed. Of course you may have to use a bit of smooth brake application if the grade is longer, or steeper. For really steep downhilling Plus-Minus buttons on the column-mounted shifter initiate gear changes. We’re not huge fans of the buttons as the steering wheel obscures their location and make it a bit fumbly to slide your thumb into position. A really important feature for 2020, diesel models add an engine after-run feature. Should you tow up a grade and park for dinner without a cool-down, the truck will do it for you. Run time is limited by temperature and shutdown is equally automatic. Because of the Allison/GM 10-speed transmission used for 2020, the powertrain required a complete recalibration. There are several positive results, according to David Ames, GM assistant chief engineer and Allison liaison. “Emissions have been improved and fine-tuned to maintain the best efficiency the transmission can offer to our customers.” It also has a fully warranted chain-driven engine-speed PTO available from the factory. The new 10-speed’s torque converter has a lock-up clutch that is unique as it will lock up in first gear, even under max loads. So, if you're pulling 35,500 pounds, you can do a first gear launch and lock up right away, which helps get rid of heat. We asked David why this is important. “Normally in first gear you're under high torque and generating a lot of heat, which puts a lot of demand on the cooling system. Locking up gets rid of that heat. Also, the new transmission has a lower 4.5:1 first gear with four planetary gear sets and six clutches. We noticed the low gear and ten speeds on launches and while pulling the box trailer on the highway. Often in hilly driving you're downshifting to save brakes; with ten gears we held the right speed and best RPM, particularly with automatic engine braking. We did drive a Silverado 3500HD dually at max capacity; 35,500 pounds on a closed course: our US Army CDL permit has lapsed. The claim of off-the-line torque is spot on. What was most interesting was the 3500’s ability to resist being pushed about on turns and we did several random serpentine loops to see if we could find any significant push? Nope. Later, with “only” 17,000 pounds behind us we finally found a bit of trailer push, which required a deeply rutted dirt road and an off camber turn. Nothing the truck couldn’t handle, even with a journalist behind the wheel. Many of us wondered why the different transmissions for Heavy Duty trucks, why not just the Allison ten? We asked and, while suspecting that plant capacity utilization and raw costs have something to do with it, were told by Vincenzo Verino, the 3.0L Duramax global chief engineer “It’s really about what the transmission brings to the engine itself. With a wider torque band, the gas engine is well-matched to a six-speed, while the narrower torque band of the Duramax is better suited to a 10-speed.” In the battle for Heavy Duty supremacy, big numbers are thrown around to convince potential buyers of worth and value. We found these slides from Chevrolet’s presentation compelling, showing Chevrolet doesn’t always have the biggest power numbers, yet can deliver more real world competency than competitors. Faster to 60 with better towing capability, we’ll take that over a bigger number any day. And Chevrolet says every diesel dually will tow more than 30,000 pounds the 2500HD with 6.6L gas engine has a tow capacity of 17,400 pounds, up 18-percent, that’s good regardless altitude. There is much, much more to tell in future stories, like the no-cut removable fascia for winter snow plow installation and the covered fender-mounted engine heater outlet, use reports of the up-down power tailgate and the bed’s 12 fixed and 9 moveable tie-downs. There’s details on improved axles, locking rear differential, beefed-up prop shaft and 12-inch ring gear, stronger U-joints, class-exclusive SLA front suspension (“mandating a solid front axle for HD trucks isn’t a thing” according to the chief engineer Tim Herrick) and the list goes on. We expect to write several more stories about the new trucks, each specific to how you’d use the truck and with even more details. We have only scratched the surface.
  3. Thom Cannel: Article & Photos Zane Merva: Photos GM-Trucks.com June 24th, 2019 This could be the shortest Chevrolet truck review in history. If that's what you came for, you can stop reading right now. But if you're curious... Why is the 3.0L Duramax so awesome? Because unless you’re building a custom lifestyle truck or simply using it for basic tasks you’ll be no doubt upgrade to more powerful engine when you buy your next Silverado or Sierra. That means either the famous 6.2-liter V-8 gas engine or this all-new 3.0L Duramax Turbo-diesel 3.0-liter diesel with its 277 HP, 460 torques and 9,300 pound towing capacity. If your truck is a lifestyle statement—and we have zero problems with that—this may not apply to you. That is, unless you’re from Texas where a better engine is as necessary as church on Thursday, guns, and football. Our vote, as the upgrade cost is the same $2,495 as for the 6.2L gas engine, is the new 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel. It has the same torque, better fuel economy (we expect) and even has a sweet engine exhaust sound. Chevrolet invited GM-Trucks to Bend, Oregon to test the 2020 Silverado and it’s new diesel engine. Don’t worry if you just bought a 2019 Silverado—there are no huge differences for 2020; the truck was only released a few months ago. So, for 2020 Chevy adds adaptive cruise control and the amazing 15-view camera technology that includes “invisible trailer” from the Heavy Duty segment. We covered that. For 2020 Chevrolet offers a diversity of engines. There are, in addition to the new diesel, the 310 horsepower / 348 lb-ft 2.7-liter DI turbocharged I-4 with an 8-speed transmission, and two legendary small block gas engines, the 5.3L and 6.2L. In Model Year 2020 the 5.3L makes 355 horsepower (265 kW) and 383 lb-ft of torque (519 Nm) coupled to an 8-speed transmission, the 6.2L is SAE-certified to deliver 420 HP (313 kW) and 460 lb-ft of torque (623 Nm). It is paired with GM’s 10-speed transmission, which couples perfectly with GM’s DFM cylinder deactivation system. Hey, you don’t think you can run on two cylinders with an ordinary transmission, do you? According to Chevrolet the new diesel motor will be available in LT, RST, LTZ and High Country trim levels. The 5.3L gas engine is standard in LTZ and High Country models and available on LT, RST and Trail Boss. The 6.2L gas gasser is available more trim levels for 2020. Both engines will be built at General Motors’ Tonawanda Engine Plant in Buffalo, New York.” Not mentioned is the carryover 4.3L engine aimed at fleet owners. We arrived in Oregon to 80°F heat and blue skies, then were fed and watered, and set off on different tasks. We can’t talk about the HD trucks and their massive towing capacity for a couple of days. We were offered an incredibly deep-dive into the new engine, and a mileage competition featuring the new 3.0-liter diesel engine to start, however. Winning a comp is cool, but not realistic when you have a limited time with a vehicle in the first place. That said, other journalists did take the time to compete and Sunday’s winning mileage was in the 34-36 mpg range and then blown away by Monday’s 46 mpg. That, friends, is some serious hypermiling! However we still do not have official EPA certified mileage. That’s “To Come”. If you haven’t read much about the 3.0, here’s a modestly deep dive into its guts. First, the whole engine is state-of-the-art, aluminum head and block with thin steel cylinder sleeves and seven main bearings for the crankshaft. Combustion processes were among the driving forces underpinning design theory, so the cylinder head is essentially flat and the bowl-shaped pistons have zero relief cuts for the valves. That was important for efficiency. Simulation, and single-cylinder engine studies showed that having very vertical valves would not only allow a simpler bowl shape in the pistons, but that very shape would allow inlet-generated swirl to be maximized at every point. Swirl is produced and governed by dual intake runners feeding each cylinder. Oh, the ceramic glow plugs gave GM the highest compression ratio consistent with power and emissions, as well as allowing ignition to -22°F without a block heater. FYI, most of the engine development and engineering, as well as primary calibration took place in Turin, Italy. That’s GM’s center of diesel excellence. To ensure a quiet engine, emissions that more than meet standards, and deliver fuel economy, GM finalized an injection pressure of 2,500 bar (36,500 psi) through solenoid injectors capable of up to ten injections per combustion cycle. Early injections are primarily used to build in-cylinder pressure smoothly to abate diesel clatter. Later injections can be used for power and to keep the catalyst working within specified temperatures (those injections, sometimes caused by a catalyst cooled by highway driving, do negatively affect fuel economy but maintain emissions specifications). There’s a single close-coupled VGT turbo, for now, which indicates a possibility for later development of greater power and torque. Packaging to the “chemical factory” is as tight as could be manufactured. What we really haven’t talked about is the decision for an I-6 engine, versus a V-type. Obviously, six cylinders are longer than three, or even four. This slightly under-square engine delivers two things that a V design does not: smoothness and less side force. A V-type engine necessarily produces some side thrust, which is one of the reasons that Ford’s new 3.0L is made of CGI or Compacted Graphite Iron. In contrast, by using a robust, deep skirt design, Chevrolet and other divisions have an all-aluminum block, saving weight. Some of the extra length is minimized by packaging chain driven shafts at the rear. If you’ve never driven, or better yet heard an inline six, they’re smooth, likely the smoothest engine you’ve driven and with a unique sound. Both delivered by six evenly spaced exhaust pulses. The last I-6 engine GM produced was the gasoline Atlas LL8/Vortec 4200 used in Chevy Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Olds Bravada, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 9-7X. ) Note that Detroit Diesel has produced an inline-6 since 1980 that displaces 11-14L.) Before highway driving, we did a walk-around. The GM-exclusive Durabed is impressive, and hard-coated for scuff resistance. Chevrolet says it’s made up of several sections instead of 1-2 deep drawn pressings. This provides owners with more cargo volume. As Chevrolet (and GMC) will tell you, it’s made of several varieties of High Strength Steels, so they claim it’s more dent and penetration-resistant than Ford’s aluminum bed. Inside the bed are 12 fixed tie-down points and nine moveable points, which has been a big hit with owners. Plus there’s that available power up/down tailgate, a power outlet and task lighting. A somewhat unnoticed feature is relocating the bed lights to flank the CHMSL on the roof edge. A couple of other things that are important are the corner steps and bed steps. They’re made for size 13 steel-toed boots and hold up to 500 pounds. We then drove the truck on the highway and on two-lane roads. Our first impression was of the powerful engine sound, followed by impressive torque. Electric motor type torque. Smooth power available at the lowest of engine speeds. Engine noise isn’t intrusive but like the torque, off the line it lets you know it’s there. However, with an open hood you hardly know it’s a diesel, it is that quiet. Even a random enthusiast who had been researching the new 3.0L Duramax and stopped us at a boat launch had to ask if it was a Diesel. This is simply unlike the larger Duramax and any other light duty diesel on the market. Something we’ll get into in our Heavy Duty story is the reason there’s a 10-speed transmission. If you think about the power band of a diesel engine, here delivering all of its 460 lb-ft of torque at just 1,500 rpm and holding strong to about 4,000 rpm, that’s significantly different than the power band of a gas engine. Thus, the 10-speed maximizes power and fuel economy—and every automaker has to deliver fuel economy, low CO2 and clean emissions. We have much more to come. For instance, we need to see if tow ratings are realistic, if its EPA fuel economy beats Ford’s 30Highway/22City/25Combined and how well it lives up to the Find New Roads slogan in real world driving under every condition we can discover.
  4. Lots more to say soon. Interviewed Michelin tech experts, got all the deets. Soon, real soon.
  5. According to Michelin, on the ground at the introduction event: Not yet for off road vehicles. Second, the tire is supported top-down, not bottom-up as is a conventional tire.
  6. As someone who has covered trucks for 20+ years... 12K was the 2500-3500 of 15 years ago and 30K only in medium-duty, CCL-only trucks. Oddest memory, 26 tons on an F-750 doing 0-60 acceleration runs with insane acceleration---26 seconds. The only true answer is, it depends.
  7. Solid! Sitting, as it were, 30 miles from GM's powertrain HQ, less from the RenCen, I'm still wondering about the loss of Volt. Maybe I missed a memo, but I don't understand it's demise (unless sales had made it unprofitable, even then, what about EPA credits?).
  8. Thom Cannell Contributor, GM-Trucks.com March 7th, 2019 Heavy Duty trucks mirror the contest for market domination in light duty trucks. This year both GM and Ford announced significant upgrades to the engines powering their all new 2500 and 3500 HD trucks as each company upgraded their diesel engine, and delivered new gas engines. At GM, the launch event centered on Chevrolet, who brought in truck writers from every segment—popular to fleet management—to Flint, Michigan’s Flint Truck Plant. Flint is the original home of General Motors trucks and the spiritual and historical home of the UAW. So, Flint Truck Plant is receiving an all-new facility constructed and designed for just HD trucks, with the former truck assembly areas destined for warehousing and future projects. New L8T 6.6-Liter Gas Engine We first spoke to Mike Kociba, a GM engineer and part of the Small Block team to learn about the new 6.6-liter V-8 engine we'd been anticipating. Mike told us the new motor “is a marriage of the six-liter it replaces and an upgrade in technology levels to Gen 5 architecture.” A careful look will disclose similarities in key areas where GM has maximized their experience with the six-liter’s durability and improvements in performance levels derived from Gen 5 architecture. “Specifically, new here is the gray cast-iron block which is unique for this application, hyper-eutectic purpose-built pistons for this application and heavy-duty requirements, forged powdered-metal connecting rods, and a forged steel crankshaft,” Mike continued. The most significant change is the addition of Direct Injection. It’s all new, an industry first for the heavy-duty market and new to GM trucks. “When we added DI, we took the roughly 400 KPa fuel pressure from the low-pressure pump and dialed it up to roughly about 15 mPa for engine operation under key conditions,” Mike continued. “That allows us to increase compression ratio, now 10.8:1 using regular fuel. Without DI you're not going to hit those numbers without losing a lot of spark efficiency. With those additions, and the six millimeter longer stroke, that gets us up to 6.6-liters.” “That suite of changes allows us to hit class-leading gasoline engine torque, at 464 foot-pounds at a lower engine speed than the outgoing six-liter was optimized for. I'm proud of its 401 horsepower, which is SAE Certified, no games, legitimate. This (engine) is purpose-built to crank out those numbers day, after day, after day with no compromise in durability. Customers can have confidence they're going to pull, tow whatever trailer you need.” There are other new features like an all-new water pump and a massive cooling fan to meet the demands of the HD customer base. New is how the water pump drives the fan through a one-inch shaft using purpose-built bearings to handle loads. Another first for HD is a variable-output oil pump. “No mater what the severe operating condition is for the customer, the pump is capable of dialing in more, or less oil pressure regardless the requirement. The engine features an aluminum oil pan, nylon 6-6 air intake, and stainless steel exhaust manifolds unique for the Heavy Duty market. That’s because HD market has specific requirements for (fuel) enrichment and these stainless manifolds will meet those requirements. “We have variable dual-equal valve actuation, like on light duty, where intake and exhaust are phased together and controlled through the actuator on the front cover. It's chain driven for accessories.” GM designed this engine specifically for upcoming standards for particulates and NOx emissions standards. “With this architecture we're not just making power and torque, but improved emissions and improved efficiency.” Mike continued. We noted the massive valves, which Mike said are common with Gen 5 architecture for valve layout and their pushrod technology. “That's how we get this compact shape. When you compare the size of the two engines, they're similar, which is due to the common 4.4-inch bore spacing.” A unique feature of the new engine is inter-bore cooling. Coolant flows between the Siamesed bores, notably in the upper bores where there’s a tendency to generate higher temperatures. “For two-valve technology of course you've got the spark plug, and the fuel injector, splayed outside. To avoid heat, we have the coil mounted directly on the rocker cover and the boot mounted next to the manifold with industry-standard individual coils for each cylinder.” This is great stuff, we though, but engine development isn’t cheap. So, why a new 6.6-liter when the 6-liter was doing well? “We needed to improve to Gen 5 level of technology to be sure (the engine) is capable of delivering on durability requirements. Customers love the convenience of gas, but if you look at the market—for instance trailers with more gadgets and slide-outs—everything is getting heavier. Customers want to be sure they can tow with confidence, no compromises, whether it's fuel economy, power, torque, emissions, efficiency, they don't want to pull up to their neighbor and have to make excuses. That's what we targeted. No compromises. With the significant technology we put into this engine, it makes segment-leading torque without compromising efficiency or emissions. Peak torque is at 4,000 rpm, 400 rpm lower than the 6.0-liter. Three things enable the new 6.6-liter's better power output. Direct injection (DI) allows us a higher compression ratio; longer stroke is good for increased torque (but not as good for horsepower as piston speeds are high) and for heavy-duty application where you need torque everywhere it’s why we focused on a longer stroke to get to 6.6-liter displacement. Those changes enabled us to broaden the torque curve, which is up 20% everywhere, for greater work potential.” We thanked Mike and asked if we’d missed anything. “Small engines with turbochargers allow them peak torque off idle, but for heavy duty we don't want that complexity. For the Heavy Duty segment we (General Motors) have durability requirements—Global Engine Durability—that are unique and very long and stringent requirements. We know customers need 401 horsepower and 464 lb.-ft. of torque today, tomorrow, and every day for years to come with no compromise in durability. We know our customers and, if they can't use their truck today, they might not get paid. That's why we focus on durability.” Brand New HD 6-Speed Transmission With that in mind, we next spoke to the systems chief engineer for six-speed FWD and RWD transmissions Rich Mardeusz. More power and more torque tend to break an older transmission. So, we wanted to know what changes had been made to the new transmission to carry the additional torque. “We started with the 6L90 that's in the current HD vehicles and full-sized vans (and ZL-1 Camaro and CTS-V), received the horsepower and torque curves from the engine engineering teams and then performed an analysis of all mechanical components from front to back,” Rich said. General Motors uses specific simulation tools for different parts. “For instance, we have a "gear damage analysis tool" for analyzing the gear set and how much damage it may receive over the life of the vehicle,” Rich told us. The result was a need to improve the torque converter and the clutch pack, which needed to be more robust to accommodate the greater power output of the upgraded 6.6-liter V-8 engine. From a clutch pack standpoint, changes were simple, according to the engineer, as there was enough room in the case to add a clutch and one backing plate to each of the clutch packs to handle additional power. When it came to the torque converter, things changed. “We looked at the components from a heavy-duty diesel torque converter and a high-output gas torque converter and then took the torque-carrying components from the diesel and married them to the spring and damping components from the gasoline torque converter. That’s what was needed to accommodate the approximate 22 percent across-the-board torque increase.” So, the new torque converter can A) handle the added torque of the new engine and B) damp out the firing frequencies from the gasoline engine, which are significantly different from a diesel engine. All of the shafting and gears were able to handle the torque. Interestingly, there is no dipstick. GM has the confidence to eliminate it, and only change fluid at suggest intervals of approximately 100,000 miles, more often for those who mostly tow, or drive over mountains with full loads. Another surprise, the transmission uses GM-spec Dexron VI fluid, GMs standard since 2005, as they found no reason to change. 2019 L5P Duramax 6.6-Liter Once we’d completed our gas powertrain interviews, we turned to the diesel side of Heavy Duty. We spoke to Max Sala, whose Italian accent tipped us to an affiliation with GM’s diesel engine center of excellence in Turin, Italy. Max said that their objective for the new Silverado HD was to increase towing capacity and ensure functionality with the new Allison/GM transmission. Remember, the Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V-8 engine makes 445 hp. and 910 lb-ft of torque. “We added a bigger fan now 28-inches, a bigger oil cooler that is upgraded from 14 plates to 19 plates, and we fine-tuned the cylinder head gasket” Next up were improvements to the engine-brake capacity, taking into consideration towing capacity. “It’s better by 14-percent and we introduced smart activation of the engine brake,” Max continued, “There's still a button for manual activation, but for safety there's automatic activation at certain RPMs.” Under the new control system, the powertrain will recognize any need for the engine brake and activate automatically. For instance in driving down hill and forgetting to shift, the higher RPM means automatic activation. “With that, we have better after-run strategy. Every time you tow uphill, temps rise and you have a message to cool the engine when stopping. If, by chance you forget and close the door, the system cooling system activates automatically for up to 15 minutes to cool the engine for reliability.” That isn’t the end of changes, as the engine has been completely recalibrated to match the new 10-speed Allison transmission. “Emissions have been improved and fine-tuned to maintain the best efficiency the transmission can offer to our customers.” With these changes, most importantly, Chevrolet says they are now capable of delivering full torque at any time, in any gear, and that they have done everything to the engine, transmission, driveline, drive shaft and frame to improve strength and durability. “What's important is how safe (the new HD trucks) will be and how comfortable it will be for our customers to drive these huge trailers up, and down hills.” Max concluded. Allison transmissions have gained a peerless reputation for strength and durability. Adding a 10-speed transmission branded with the Allison name is a great choice. David Ames, now GM assistant chief engineer on the Allison transmission and liaison with Allison, is a former Allison engineer. A natural fit. The 10-speed is a collaborative effort with joint development of the analysis, engineering, as well as testing. So, testing was performed at Allison and at GM, each with their own set of rules and test regimes. “We go back and forth”, David told us. “Today we have a ratio-span of five and this transmission has a span of 7.2, so the new 10-speed provides both more overdrive and a lower first gear.” We asked about the projects’ starting point. “We (at GM) come out with a "here's what we're looking for" and we begin an internal development contract. It was a pretty clean sheet of paper. So, the controls on the bottom are from a smaller 10-speed, some pieces and parts, but not the entire controls package. For the most part, it's all new to handle the increased power and much larger torque. We collaborated with Allison on this transmission (GM does have a 10-speed transmission of its own) which made it necessary to meet their (Allison) design requirements, their analysis requirements, their engineering requirements, as well as our own. It's a very compact transmission. If you had a 6-speed for comparison, this more dense, more compact and solid to get ten speeds into a package that would still fit nicely into the vehicle and not take up too much space,” David continued. This transmission’s torque converter has a lock-up clutch and is unique in that it will lock up in first gear, even under max loads. So, if you're pulling 33,500 pounds, you can do a first gear launch and lock up right away, which helps get rid of heat. We asked David why this is important. “Normally in first gear you're under high torque and generating a lot of heat, which puts a lot of demand on the cooling system. Locking up gets rid of that heat and the 7.2 ratio gives you a lower first gear. For instance, the six-speed uses a 3.1 first gear and the new transmission has a much lower 4.5 first gear. It's got four planetary gear sets, six clutches and the main place you'll notice the ten speeds, not only in launches and driving with heavier loads—it's very smooth—is going down a grade. Often you're trying to downshift to save brakes and having ten gears you can usually hold the right speed and not feel like you're running over the car in front of you, tapping the brakes or going too slow.” “Also, we built in the first OEM PTO option. Note that the chain drive to the PTO is engine-speed driven rather than turbine-speed driven, which is important to many commercial customers, and it’s quieter drive than gear driven systems.” We asked David for an overview of the combined Duramax-Allison package. “For those who need it, it’s a nice package, one we're very proud of because of the outstanding durability. I think we're going to do a better job of putting power to the road than anybody out there. Whatever torque the engine is putting out, it's getting to the road in an accurate way. I think this transmission will be far more durable than people need it to be. Four-five years from now people will understand how durable it is.”
  9. Thom Cannell Contributor, GM-Trucks.com February 26th, 2019 General Motors had no news in Chicago, but delivered crowd-pleasing displays from Chevrolet and GMC, as well as Cadillac and their crossovers and SUVs. Of interest to truck enthusiasts were Heavy Duty Chassis Cabs from Ram, facelifts and equipment improvements from Toyota, face-lifts for some Nissan CUVs, a new Range Rover Evoke and more. The Chicago show is immensely different from Detroit, and that is a pun. With 2.3 million square feet of display space, the result is wide-spread (and often poorly lit) displays, indoor off-roading tracks, and worn boot-leather. These are the highlights. Alphabetically, Chevrolet brought its cars, well; they must have been there somewhere, and its new Heavy Duty Silverados, which were abundant in every powertrain and trim. And they brought the Lego Silverado, which is amazing in detail and execution. GMC “stood tall” with its Heavy Duty Sierra walk-under display and great lineup. Cadillac replaced their militaristic all-new XT6 with a gray one; it was better. They do have emotional colors available? Chevrolet Chevrolet spanned much of the North Hall, filling it primarily with trucks, crossovers like the fiercely red Blazer to lead your eyeballs into the display and nearby SUVs, but the focus was on Super Duty. Silverado had pride of position, though the new Traverse was mentioned, as well. From fifty-feet, you’re not convinced this Lego truck isn’t a real Silverado Z71. Even closer, it still fools the eye. Among the Silverados on display was this High Country. The Z71 Heavy Duty proved popular to the dealer, potential buyer, and social media crowd. Green is nice, Red is better, and note the difference in wheels and running boards per model. This is a great juxtaposition, the new Silverado Heavy Duty and its upgraded diesel engine. A perfect pair. We again saw the snow plow in Chicago, this time close enough to crawl beneath for a photo of the no-cutting-required blade attachment system. A pair of close-ups, first the dedicated, and covered, block heater that’s available and a better representation of the two bed steps designed for easy steel-toe boot access. At first glance, in Detroit, the new Blazer didn’t move our emotional needle the way we hoped. Much better in Chicago, with better lighting and blazing red color. It surely fills a needed niche in Chevrolet crossovers; it’s based on a global platform that carries Cadillac’s XT5. GMC GMC brought no new product to Chicago, only a clean, bright and entertaining display. Of note, their walk-under Sierra and the tracked Aspen special we mentioned as debuting in Detroit. Everyone Else Trucks, regardless their size, battle on GVWR, tow ratings, tire size, infotainment screen size (and bigger is always better), and now tailgates. Ram has a split gate that opens larger-left, then right, or folds. Ram offers a pullout entry step for easy entry, signature Ram box, and collapsible internal storage barrier. Ram’s big news—excuse the pun—was its 2019 Ram Chassis Cab; they brought several upfitter modified models as demonstrations, including a luxury fifth-wheel version. With so many ultra-lux 1500s, 2500s and 3500s, why there haven’t been more full-on interiors aimed at horse owners and racecar haulers, is retrospectively a mystery. Ram now offers its most modern interior to Class 3/4/5 upfitters. The chassis is 97-percent High Strength Steel, the diesel engine is an up-rated Cummins 6.7-liter knocking out 800 lb.-ft. of torque and mated to an 8-speed transmission. Not to be left out, Jeep brought a Rubicon version of the new Gladiator. Looks pretty rad to us. You? Land Rover’s latest small SUV/crossover Evoque is externally similar, though the platform is all-new and a bit longer with improved cargo space. Off road technology, which the brand is known for, is improved and the 246-hp Ingenium engine is now mated to a 48-Volt mild hybrid power assist to make 296 eco-friendly horsepower. Toyota debuted TRD Pro upgrades to its Tacoma, RAV4 and Sequoia. RAV4 has barely arrived in dealer showrooms, yet received welcome off road chops thanks to a dedicated suspension, all-terrain tires, all wheel drive, and standard torque vectoring for this RAV4 TRD Off-Road model. Tacoma, the perennial best-selling mid-sized pickup in North America, adds power-adjustable seats in most grades and has improved infotainment systems with 8-inch touchscreens that are smart phone savvy. Performance and glitter items like new grille and wheel designs, sequential LED headlights for the Tacoma TRD Pro model are balanced by new exterior cameras that deliver surrounding terrain views for improved off road safety. Sequoia TRD Pro now offers TRD-tuned Fox Racing off road dampers, plus other greasy-side items and an upgraded leather seat interior. The Land Cruiser Heritage Edition, a USA-specific version, goes the opposite way, shedding its chrome, third-row seats and running boards in favor of bronzed BBS wheels and a clean, subtly badged exterior. Without fanfare, Toyota put what may be future crossover product, the TJ Cruiser, on display to gauge reaction. Feel free to let them know what you think. Ford introduced its Super Duty trucks the week before GM’s similar launch. Their new Super Duty features three engines, the venerable 6.2-liter gas engine, now joined by an all-new 7.3-liter V-8 and third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. The newer motors are paired with a Ford-designed and built 10-speed automatic with optional PTO. Features include a new high-flow grille, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, LED headlamps, and improved trailer tow and payload capacity. Nissan’s 2020 Rogue Sport, not available for several months, offers new grille, refreshed exterior styling, and adds high-level safety features: Nissan ProPILOT and Nissan Safety Shield. Together, that provides owners with automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, rear AEB, lane departure and rear cross traffic alert, radar-based smart cruise control and high beam assist. ProPILOT tech ““is a single-lane “hands-on” driving assistance technology that eases driver workload by reducing the amount of driver acceleration, steering and braking input under certain driving conditions, such as single-lane highway driving,” or semi-autonomy”, the company says. The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition adds 18-inch wheels and some interesting, and functional cosmetics like black over-fenders, black-mesh grille and black roof rails, door handles and exterior mirrors. Inside they’ve added two-tone seating with contrast stitching; functionality includes a Best-In-Class 6,000-pound tow rating.
  10. Thom Cannell Contributor, GM-Trucks.com February 13th, 2019 Flint, Michigan, was cold on Tuesday, gray with a winter sleet warning in the forecast. It was a perfect day to launch Chevrolet’s all-new 2020 Silverado Heavy Duty truck in the face of the just-launched Ford product and almost-here RAM. Flint is where the truck will be built in a brand new plant that’s part of the 159 acre, 3.3 million square foot Flint Assembly plant. In an eerily quiet staging area, first plant manager Michael Perez talked about the 3,000-strong work force and the plant’s longevity, and the recent 1.5 billion dollar investment. Flint is GM’s longest continuously operating assembly plant, having produced more than 13-million vehicles since opening in 1947. Interestingly, the first 300 production Corvettes came from Flint in 1953. Then Silverado HD chief engineer Jaclyn McQuaid described its advanced trailer tow features, the fully boxed High Strength Steel frame, and its two new powertrains. She spoke about a tow rating minimum of 33,000 pounds for every dually, not just the 35,500 maximum for a specific option set. That maximum tow rating is up 52-percent! Mark Reuss, president of GM described their truck strategy and last year’s 973,000 truck sales. He projected strong earnings for 2019, now that the three-truck strategy is in effect—Colorado, Silverado and Silverado HD, plus Medium Duty 4-5-6 series trucks. He also commented on, but gave no details on the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel engine for light-duty trucks. Damn! Mark was followed by chief designer Rich Scheer, who outlined exterior and interior changes like the corner-step and bed step, same-height bed rails, integrated block heater outlet, and easy fitment to snow plows. “We knew if we could pull off something this dramatic, nobody would mistake our Heavy Duty for a Light Duty -- and that would be our competitive advantage.” Rich then went for a Trim Walk, from Work, to Custom, to LT and chrome, the LTZ with more chrome and LED headlights, and finally High Country with its body-colored bumpers and 20-inch wheels. With the talking complete, these are the things that grabbed our attention: first, two new engines and two new transmissions. Each powertrain is based, somewhat, on existing products. We’d been waiting for the new gas engine in particular. Based on the 6.0-liter V-8 small block, its longer stroke ups displacement to 6.6-liters with a power output of 401 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm thanks to Direct Injection. It offers 18-percent greater tow capacity. We’ll have a complete photo essay after the Chicago Auto Show, which we’re currently attending. The diesel, all 910 torques of it, is mated to an Allison® transmission boasting ten speeds; a very low first gear and several overdrive gears. The main benefit of having ten speeds is keeping diesel engine RPM in the best band for torque and for perfect no-brake downhilling. Again, more after Chicago. Except for one note, because of the massive 12-inch ring gear and larger prop shaft and axles, Chevy (and of course GMC) promise every single foot-pound of torque can be applied in first gear. Even that lower first gear. The Introduction & Reveal When we stepped into our meeting room, several partly assembled trucks were in mid-test form. Using coordinate measuring machines that index to established hard points, precise measurement of how individual parts fit, and how the whole assembly conforms to engineering standards is established. This hanger-sized area would be for temporary storage. On this Tuesday, every truck writer in the USA sat alongside engineers, executives and teammates. Michael Perez, plant manager delivered a history lesson on the oldest of GM’s plants and the workforce represented by UAW Local 598 that will build GM’s Heavy Duty trucks in volume, starting in summer. Mark Reuss, GM president, spoke about Chevrolet’s five-truck strategy, how General Motors sold more trucks than anyone last year, and how the company expects to continue improving its products. (Now, if only there were some extra funds for interiors…) Jaclyn McQuaid is the chief engineer for Heavy Duty, and she produced two bare chassis to extol the boxed High Strength Steel-y goodness thereof. Most interesting is the claim that each Heavy Duty truck can apply 100-percent of its available torque in first gear without turning the driveshaft into scrap. She also debuted the new gas engine, which we had not expected. The upgraded Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 mates to an Alison transmission, a segment exclusive, and the powertrain offers an optional, warranted, PTO, another exclusive. Frames are available with built-in gooseneck cross-body reinforcements and bed holes from the factory, saving extra costs and possible fitment misfits. Another option is an Autotrac two-speed transfer case for 4X4 models. It’s fully electronically activated. One sought-after upgrade for diesel trucks is easier access to DEF, and a way to monitor DEF quantities. The new Silverado HD encloses the DEF filler behind the fuel door and provides a DEF quantity monitor. (This is welcome, needed, but hardly novel.) If you need a gooseneck setup, GM offers it from the factory. It includes a bed already perforated during production, so is fully coated on all surfaces for less rust potential. Closer view of the diesel powertrain, with the PTO option. GM’s new small-block 6.6-liter V-8. The tall intake manifold is made from Nylon 6-6, and we’ll provide more details soon. Even the gas engine, which does run on 87 Octane fuel, offers a factory PTO. One of the novel options is smart trailer integration, which is designed to work with ASA Electronics iN∙Command® control system. This offers control over trailer features like heat and air conditioning. You control it from the dash, or your myChevrolet mobile app. We mentioned the designed-in easier fitment for snowplows. No cutting required. This Cougar trailer is the one monitored in our infotainment center photos. There’s nothing like proving your truck can pull a large trailer. However, note the new towing mirrors. They slide in-out to provide coverage for trailers that don’t have the transparent trailer view option. Some venues have greeters. We had a new Silverado to welcome us. The Flint Plant Tour Largely robotic, the plant uses JIT or Just In Time parts that arrive in reusable fixtures. We weren’t told how many robots there are, but 3,000 people make the trucks. Everything possible is done to prevent scratches and dents. While it would seem that once a part is designed and the stamping die constructed, the job is over. Not so. Constant measurement is part of the process. Using multiple part profiles, this video-enabled dimensional test device looks at minute, hair-thin deviations from specification. Once is an aberration, but several would require intervention in production. At start-up, every part is tested. Thereafter, a statistical sample will be used. Remember when we said beds were produced for fifth-wheel or gooseneck applications? These are raw parts in several bed lengths, prior to welding into complete beds. Parts arrive from GM’s attached metal stamping plant on AGVs, Automated Guided Vehicles. Laser-guided (look at the up-looking towers), they flow throughout the plant on designated paths. Smaller parts are tugged throughout the plant by AGV tugs. They operate in strict lanes. Partly assembled bodies and beds head towards the paint shop to be immersed in protective chemistry, prior to the paint shop’s base and clear coat application. Wondering about the upside-down tailgate? It’s so the anti-corrosion primary coating can drain out through what will be bed-top mounting holes.
  11. Thom Cannell Contributor, GM-Trucks.com February 5th, 2019 2019 - Last North American International Auto Show - as we've known it. Filled with sprawling displays of gleaming sheet metal and enough spotlights to illuminate the International Space Station, this was the final chilly, Detroit Auto Show in January. 2019 lacked the European media-hustle excitement, which left extra space for other exhibitors. Next year the Grand Experiment begins, moving show dates to June and using the Cobo Center rooftop and multiple venues spread throughout downtown Detroit to showcase the best in cars, trucks, crossovers, SUVs, SAVs, mobility pods and platforms. 2020 will be interesting, to say the least. We've done the General Motors story, this is the rest of the best. Ford kicked off the show, bringing their all-new 2020 Explorer to an early debut at Ford Field. Hmm, plenty of space under the dome! At Cobo Center, there were the new Explorer, new Mustang GT500, infused with a supercharged V-8 making over 700 horsepower with a 0-60 time a tick over three seconds, and the latest Ford F-150 Raptor, all brightly colored for maximum exposure. Interestingly, even on limited-attendance media days the Ford layout felt cramped. The 2020 Explorer will use EcoBoost turbo power, either a 2.3L base engine or more powerful 3.0L depending on your needs and your credit union's scorecard. It's a rear-wheel drive platform, with AWD available. To me there's not a substantial change anywhere except the front-end, which is more like Fusion or Focus, which is not a bad thing. FCA's RAM division challenged its cross-town rivals with an all-new RAM Heavy Duty 2500 and RAM Heavy Duty 3500 which the brand says, "Out-powers, out-tows and out-hauls every other pickup available." Why? It's thanks to an update Cummins 6.7-liter high output turbo-diesel that breaks the 1,000 lb.-ft. torque barrier for standard pickups. If you want all of those torques, you'll have to order a two-wheel drive model equipped with proper equipment. Then your Ram will be rated to tow 35,100 pounds and deliver a 7,680-pound payload. Ram's media briefing was all about axles, transfer cases, suspension, brakes and transmissions, AKA gear-head heaven and real news. GAC, will likely the first Chinese automaker to deliver cars to the USA, and have multiple dealerships (we discount supercars and tiny e-cars.) They brought a non-concept concept called ENTRANZE. It seats 3+2+2 in a pod-like configuration. Of course the vehicle is electric, and a version of this shape/size/configuration will be released by GAC later in 2019 for the Chinese market. GAC will soon open a North American headquarters in California. They also displayed a full lineup of sedans and small-and-larger crossovers; these guys are for real, even if we don’t find most of their current lineup visually appealing. Ford and VW held a teleconference announcing a partnership to collaborate on a products and technologies. Likely, VW wants to take advantage of Ford's truck expertise while Ford could rapidly benefit from Volkswagen's advanced electric platforms and autonomous vehicle research. How this shakes out is yet unknown and details are conspicuously-but not unexpectedly-absent. The handsome Lincoln Continental 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition, designed to remind us of Lincoln's heritage with center-opening doors and a luxury interior featuring Alcantara, was one of the best-looking vehicles on the floor. And the Continental delivers more than a sophisticated exterior, as under the hood you can option a hybrid version of the twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.0-liter V-6. By combining the EcoBoost with hybrid technology, it produces a respectable 450 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque. Get into line with a bank draft, only 80 will be produced. Arguably the most-anticipated introduction was Toyota's new Supra. The 2020 GR Supra is the first global model developed by Toyota GAZOO Racing, the international umbrella for Toyota's global motorsport program. Built on a chassis shared with BMW's Z4, Supra comes in two models, Base and Premium, with a third Launch Edition based on the Premium limited to 1,500 cars. Those get signatures from Akio Toyoda on carbon fiber for display in your office. However, the base model looks like the better bet. It has the same 300-hp. engine, grippy Alcantara seats (versus leather) and a low-low entry price of $50,920. Car-loving journalists agreed, it has better looks and more impact than Margot Robbie or Gal Gadot. Lexus brought it's RC F Track Edition, which has been upgraded and with a refreshed body. Meant for performance enthusiasts, add a set of tires and extra brake pads and you, too, Can't Drive 55, or have a good weekend of racing. Also, the company displayed a "concept" LC Convertible, a very sexy and meant-for-sunshine-weekend-weather touring. It awaits a decision on soft top or folding hardtop; well, that's what we think. For family buyers, Volkswagen introduced a new Passat, which could look a bit more like the Arteon concept, in our opinion. However, Passats are meant for driving, not display, so look for aggressive pricing and "German Engineering" adverts to follow. Also look for significantly upgraded features added to the brands already-good ride and handling. As their Atlas CUV has great lane keeping and VW's excellent telematics system, we expect Passat to be well received by couples and families. Nothing says Auto Show like CONCEPT CARS. Real concepts, even if they somewhat foreshadow the styling of future product. No production-intent cut lines, no perfect rubber gaskets with part numbers. Real. For several years Nissan and Infiniti have provided winners, 2019 was no exception. The Infiniti QX Inspiration is, of course an electrified vehicle that hints at Infiniti's upcoming EV architecture. There is, according to the company, intent to build, though likely with conventional doors to meet safety regulations. Like other EVs, there's a "skateboard" modular base with e-motors on each axle, which generates all-wheel drive. The QX Inspiration took three of EyesOn Design's awards— Best Concept Vehicle, Best Designed Interior and Best Use of Color, Graphics or Materials Nissan brought the IM purely electric sedan with its odd 2+1+2 seating arrangement. Nissan says IM stands for "Intelligent Mobility". With power estimated at 483 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque, the battery pack extends range to 380 miles, eliminating any range anxiety. It’s low, has a fantastic paint job, and a video-only instrument/infotainment panel sweeping across the dashboard. Subaru, home of family cars and the wonderful Subaru WRX and WRX STI boy-racers, brought to the USA, for the first time, the STI S209, a full-on racecar wrapped into an STI body. Subaru Technica International is Subaru's race shop and skunk works. Everything is hand-built or hand-assembled, including the 200 S209's that will be sent to the USA. While 341 horsepower from the boxer engine might sound small, competitors around the world have been looking at the taillights in multiple racing venues. Kia brought its new Telluride three-row crossover to Detroit, putting it on display and on an interior hill-climb track, the first at NAIAS. Appearance is sportier than the soon-to-come Hyundai Palisade, and Kia's theme echoed that with an active lifestyle display complete with ski racks and kayaks. Hyundai showed an enhancement to their N Line of performance vehicles. Available to you and me Really Soon, the Elantra GT N Line combines sportier trim elements with refinements to the chassis and powertrain. Think "BMW M that I can afford." Their first N Line racecar, the Veloster N TCR, will compete in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race, beginning with the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
  12. Cadilac had the only reveal, Sunday before the show. See the show report and an "other than GM" report coming on Monday.
  13. Thom Cannell Contributor, GM-Trucks.com January 23rd, 2019 There were good, and less-good things about the 2019 North American International Auto Show. It was smaller than the last few years as, generally, European and premium luxury manufacturers made other marketing decisions. This, of course, left open space which Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC, as well as Ford and FCA used to their advantage. Chevrolet, in particular, had an enormous family-friendly display of trucks. Oh, and some cars. Cadillac had its first bi-level display, with the upstairs reserved for dealer meetings and journalist interviews. GMC’s floor space swept from one aisle to the next, a linear flow of trucks and SUV/CUVS. We had an opportunity to talk with representatives of each brand about plans for 2019, starting with Silverado’s chief engineer. Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer for full-size trucks at GM As background, GM and Chevrolet have recently introduced the 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4 for trucks, the 2.8-liter diesel in Colorado, a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder, and a no-details gas engine for the Heavy Duty trucks we’ll tell you about early in February. Our first question to Tim was about the 3.0L diesel, which appears late in the spring. “It’s aimed at both fuel economy and great towing capability. The diesel will be heavier than the 2.7L; it has the whole chemical factory added on and, as I’m driving it now, overall your impression will be it’s super responsive. I love it. You will see it soon; let's say second quarter. Get the government open; I can't post my numbers until then, I'm ready to go!” Tim exclaimed. Tim segued to the 2.7L. “Did you drive the new 2.7 gas engine (yes, we did)? I smile every time I drive it; it's lighter than the other engines, the twin-volute turbo is super-responsive, it spools up fast and it’s fun off the line, nimble.” So some of the nimble is the suspension calibration, we asked? “It’s the overall architecture, when you take 450 pounds out, you can put it back into the fun-to-drive. It's the best driving truck we've ever produced.” With RAM posting record sales numbers we asked if the truck aspect of Chevrolet is fully fleshed out, if there was room for a mini-truck or truck/CUV? “It doesn't feel like it. We have a four-truck strategy with Colorado, Silverado, Silverado HD and medium-duty. We're happy, proud of our strategy and we sold over a million last year.” It's interesting that the previous Silverado, now over five years old, was said to be too conservative, and now "they've gone too far", for instance the hot-button over rounded wheel wells versus squared. Truck customers are conservative and don't welcome change, even though they demand it. “When you examine the whole franchise of the company, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe it's an Ironman! You're just seeing the tip of the iceberg, for instance the Heavy Duty program, and more to come.” What you may not know is that Chevrolet just got to a 50/50 production split between the old truck, K2, and the new truck this month, January 2019. Dealers are just reaching their own 50-percent of new trucks delivered. Tim is extremely proud of the truck and its architecture; this is the largest program General Motors has ever done as it underpins Silverado, Sierra, and both large SUVs. “We'll make more news in 2019 than any other truck company,” Tim said. We turned to customer perceptions and needs. For instance, a 2019 Silverado LT 6.2L we had for photography was, on the exterior, exemplary. On the inside it seemed oriented towards hard- core truck buyers with large, and plain buttons; no glitter. It was entirely about "I've got gloves on and my truck and I work for a living." We asked how these interiors would play versus the competition? In answer, Chevrolet says the vast majority of sales are to Chevy truck loyalists, people who have been Chevy truck owners their entire lives, and are incredibly important to reach and satisfy. Much of the growth in the truck segment is from segment-switchers making their first truck purchase. They have similar needs and wants as lifelong truck buyers, according to the exec. “Customers are at the core of everything we do,” Tim informed us. “We had over 7,000 respondents to our new Silverado truck clinics. When the numbers were summed, we delivered on what the numbers said for exterior and interior. Customer feedback was great. When we took the new truck to clinics and talked to our customers, and yeah, they do wear gloves and they do work hard. They do have expectations; the biggest is that the interior holds up for the life of the truck. Whether that's a three-year lease or six-year note, it's got to look as good on the last day as the day they bought it. The quality and durability of our materials—we have real aluminum—a great layout for functionality that is soft where it needs to be soft. We gave a great lineup in our infotainment systems (8" screen in the center) and the largest HUD (Heads Up Display) in the industry—it's three-inches by seven and you can parse your information. You can put your directions up here, your stereo over there and your speed over here. You get the information you want in three spots. We find that's a great solution for us. When we took the materials to the clinic and talked to customers—they're a working bunch that buys things for value—they loved it. We have seen the competition, and some of the luxury they've brought in. We're not sure it will stand the test of time.” We asked if there is a known stake in the ground where massive changes occur? "I don't know,” Tim continued, “I don't see that (elimination of IC engines) happens. A truck has to do everything. It has to be quiet and comfortable, it has to get good fuel economy on the highway at 80 mph, and it has to tow and haul; it’s the broadest use-range of any vehicle, while meeting government standards. The one that wins is the one that best integrates ride-and-handling, quietness, comfort, technology, usefulness, tow and haul and great fuel economy, while looking great. Chevrolet’s display broke into segments related to vehicles and technology, for instance Silverado, Colorado, the SUVs and a virtual-reality race. Each had it’s own display space and theme. What we found amazing, and not in a good way, was the color choice for the trucks on the main Silverado display space. While earth tones are all the rage in urban environments, on the stage, well, look for yourself (we’ve included Silverado exterior color chips for comparison). The Silverado simply disappears despite thousands of Watts of illumination. Contrast that with Colorado’s display. GMC trucks and full-sized SUVs We next spoke to Stewart (Stu) Pierce, senior marketing manager GMC truck and full-sized SUV. Having participated in the AT4 launch prior to the 2018 Auto Show New York, we were somewhat up to speed with GMC’s recent actions. Our question to Stu was obviously about their plans for 2019. “The big thing is the all-new next-generation Sierra,’ Stu said “though it was introduced several months ago. So far the reaction is enthusiastic, particularly for Denali and the new AT4. The AT4 has been the biggest surprise, as we expected it to be 10-percent of total sales. In fact, orders are coming in around 20-30-percent. Our only problem is fulfilling orders, which is a good problem. The cool thing about the AT4, and why I think its taken off so well is, there were no direct competitors. Every brand has off road trucks; a significant portion of truck buyers want off-road capability. Nobody has done a premium off-road truck. (Ford's Raptor and King Ranch, RAMs Laramie Longhorn would seem to fall into similar categories, however. ED) Sort of, if you take a rugged off road truck and blend it with Denali, you get AT4. AT4 has extremely high levels of refinement and technology, and performance from the 6.2L engine. It's got a 2-inch lift, all the off road parts including Rancho shocks, skid plates, recovery tow hooks, Hill Decent control, dual exhaust, LED headlights, locking differential and more. It's been the biggest surprise to us. Beyond that, the technology we have like the rear camera (with 360° and tow-hook views) and HUD, all have been super-well received. As these trucks become stronger appearing with a big, tall hood and big, tall grille and bold truck appearance, at the same time, you've now got the ability to see all around you so you can park where you need to. It looks great, gives you the kind of presence and image you're looking for, and at the same time its easy to use, easy to drive. I think the biggest GMC truck feature is the MultiPro tailgate, a world's first. Nobody has anything like it. I've been at the show for two or three hours and there’s a constant stream of people coming from other brands, and journalists wanting to look at the MultiPro tailgate. It's got six functions (tailgate, load stop, foldable inner gate for access, full-width step, Inner gate second-tier load stop, inner gate work surface, Ed.) and it's the feature that dealers say customers who would never set foot into a GMC store stop in to see. And it's standard on more than 80-percent of 2019 trucks—all Denali, AT4 and SLT levels.” Having covered the Sierra, we wondered what else might be interesting in 2019. “We've released some new packages for Yukon, a new Graphite Edition in two versions, Regular based on SLT with chrome trim removed and a unique grille and wheels, the other version is Graphite Performance. It has the 6.2-liter. So, you can get a blacked-out SLT with great driving and great power. You also pick up things like magnetic ride control, previously unavailable, and a Head Up Display. We've also got the Yukon SLT Standard Edition, sort of value proposition; it enables someone to get a leather interior, not necessarily the other bells and whistles, at a more affordable price. We're running the plant at full overtime. Terrain is doing well, and to go back to Sierra, we have a new Elevation model which started production in October 2018. Dealers started receiving them 30-45 days ago. It's our new double-cab on the next generation truck platform. Like the Crew Cab, it’s larger and roomier than the truck it replaces. There’s greater knee room, a 6.6-inch bed and the 2.7-liter turbocharged engine is standard. It's monochrome, with 20-inch painted wheels. And it's a bit more affordable without stepping up to the fully loaded trucks.” At GMC the "stay tuned" message was about the 3-liter diesel and carbon fiber box, which will arrive soon and debut on Denali and AT4. GMC’s display feature a new Heavy Duty track concept with no production intent. It’s for you to buy, and compared to SNO-CATs, is far less expensive. GMC added it to celebrate their partnership with Vail, Colorado. Overall, the GMC display was bright, cheery, and sophisticated in its simplicity. Yeah, we’d call it Professional Grade. Cadillac's all-new XT6 three-row CUV Cadillac held an offsite introduction for new product the day prior to NAIAS. We were not invited. The biggest news, other than the 2020 XT6, was a visual-only display of Cadillac’s first full-electric vehicle. Cadillac, as GM’s luxury brand, will receive GM’s first future EV platform model. The platform will, as it must, be flexible and configurable (batteries and e-motors) in front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive. Battery systems will be based on “vehicle and customer needs”. “Cadillac’s EV will hit the heart of the crossover market and meet the needs of customers around the world,” said Steve Carlisle, president of Cadillac. “It will represent the height of luxury and innovation while positioning Cadillac as the pinnacle of mobility.” Nothing more was shared, though continuation of Escalade and an upcoming performance sedan were hinted. In a bad pun, we think Cadillac must electrify their game. BMW’s announced i4 and iX3, Mercedes EQ brand and announced EQC, Jaguar’s available-now I-PACE, VOLVO’s 2019 SC40 CUV and other BEVs (battery electric vehicles) make speed-to-market a necessity. After I received the business card from marketing project manager Cadillac XT6, James Hunter, we began our chat about Cadillac's latest SUV, the 2020 XT6. While not mentioned, the XT6 is based on the crossovers built by Lansing, Michigan's Delta Township and Springhill, Tennessee facilities, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and my research says it's closest in size to the GMC Acadia. Springhill also builds the XT5. "XT6 is all-new, and Cadillac's mid-sized luxury crossover," Mr. Hunter said." It fills a void in Cadillac's portfolio, which is flanked on one side by the (two-row, 4-5 passenger, Ed.) XT5 and the other by Escalade. It's for customers who have need for additional cargo/passenger flexibility. You might carry 6-7 passengers, or fold everything flat for 78.7 cubic feet of cargo (43.1 cubes behind the second row, 12.6 if configured for three passenger rows, Ed.) It will tow 4,000 pounds with the tow package that delivers Guide View for the hitch." We asked if this was an alternative to Escalade? "Sliding XT6 between Escalade and XT5 offers passenger capacity, providing an alternative to customers who don't need a body-on-frame truck. It's a more modern-feeling vehicle, with Cadillac's most modern technology. For example, Infotainment-3.5 and its rotary controller with a jog feature to scroll and navigate more easily. We do maintain steering wheel controls, and at the same time hard buttons and touch-screen options to provide choices. Another example is our family of instrument clusters; they are larger, with higher resolution. We offer a Heads Up Display in our Visibility Display Package that comes with a 360° camera, advanced park assist, pedestrian detection; complementary technologies." Packaging features and options for manufacturing simplicity may not offer the best customer-oriented solution. "We spend a lot of time optimizing packages, leveraging our portfolio and all of our brand’s experience and history. I think we hit the bull’s-eye!" Beyond XT6, what does Cadillac have to provide excitement this year, to an increasingly young customer? "There's the Escalade Sport Package for 2019, and some other things I'm not at liberty to discuss. The 2020 XT6 starts production soon, and vehicles will arrive late in 2Q, early 3Q. The 500+ horsepower CT6 V-8 will arrive in a similar time-frame." We asked about the changeover from sedan-heavy to SUV/CUV-rich. "I think we have a very good start with the current lineup and the addition of XT6 and XT4, plus the higher-capacity Escalade ESV provide a broad range of customer appeal as customers move through various life stages. We are, of course, monitoring the competition." We asked about an XT2, even XT1 small crossover, as these are very hot for Buick, BMW and others. "Going forward, we'll be exploring the needs of customers," which was about the answer we expected. "We recognize that we needed to improve our average age in the marketplace. We didn't have a range of products that appealed to a younger, active lifestyle. With the XT4 and XT6, we expect a reduction in average age as we meet the needs of 40-50-year old buyers." That's good for everyone, as the saying goes, "You can sell an old man a young man's car...'" “Not only are we delivering product to appeal to a younger customer,” Hunter continued, “We are providing trim levels for their tastes. An example, the XT6 offers a Premium Luxury model calibrated for more isolation, or Sport models with active suspension and faster steering for a more responsive ride." Cadillac’s display was, as expected, a bit brighter, a bit more upscale with a raised platform for its all-new 2020 Cadillac XT6. That XT6 was colored in what I think General James Mattis might receive as a gold watch substitute. It’s OD Green, rather than a compelling color like copper, or red, or blue, or white, or black or almost any other color. Cadillac, featuring a drab, dingy, lackluster color for your new flagship product in your hometown display? Shame on you!
  14. First Drive: Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison

    Thom Cannell Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com December 6, 2018 Last month Chevrolet invited us to test the Chevrolet Bison, a ZR2 derivative with distinctive upgrades that add to its already solid off road capabilities. Built off the already-capable Z7R2, American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) provided the collaborative additions that created Bison. It retains the class-exclusive front and rear locking differentials from ZR2, and high-zoot Multimatic DSSV dampers. The design of the Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve dampers uses hollow cylindrical sleeves instead of familiar discs. These were used first on race cars including Champ cars, LeMans prototypes and F1 They provide superb off road damping, particularly on rough trails where they offer greater passenger comfort. Getting to the grit of it, a pickup is hard-pressed to have the approach angle of a Jeep, and impossible for a production bed to provide a really short departure. Nonetheless, Bison does a very good job of going over rocks. One of the AEV additions is a set of five hot-stamped Boron-steel skid plates to protect the oil pan, fuel tank, transfer case and front and rear locking differentials, which we tested extensively. “As this is the first Chevrolet vehicle we’ve given the AEV treatment to,” said Dave Harriton, founder and president of AEV, “we wanted to do something special with the industry’s first use of hot-stamped Boron steel.” We think he’s referring to the off-road industry, as hot stamped High Strength Steel is the basis for modern crash-worthy chassis. However, those skid plates kept the rocks out of our oil pan. Some of the Bison upgrades are more cosmetic than necessary, like replacing the bowtie grille a free-flowing CHEVROLET front grille, Bison decals on the bedsides and an AEV Bison logo on the tailgate plus an embroidered AEV on the floor liners and front head rests. Branding, eh? Performance-oriented changes include the stamped steel front and rear bumpers. The front bumper allows adding a winch (would you go off roading without a winch??), fog lamps and integrated recovery points. As a truck designed to venture deep into open spaces, Chevy added 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires mounted on Bison-specific 12x8-inch aluminum wheels. We tested those, too, and they have plenty of grip on rocks, and in loose dirt. Note that the ZR2 cast-iron control arms and Autotrac transfer case are retained, along with the ZR2’s 3.42:1 axle ratio and front/rear tracks wider by 3.5-inches. Compared to a ZR1, Bison is lifted by two-inches. Our test vehicle was powered by the new 2.8-liter Duramax diesel (186 hp., 369 lb.-ft.) mated to a six-speed transmission. It was the crew cab model; with the short bed which including some AEV upgrades. On our highway drive towards an off-road park, we noted that the Bison was extremely quiet, and not just “quiet, for a truck”. No, it was quiet for any kind of vehicle, including a Cadillac. After switching the transfer case into 4WD-high, we bucked our way towards the promised bigger challenges. Along our trail—nothing extreme but way off the beaten path—we again noted there hadn’t been a single squeak, rattle, or buzz. The only odd sounds in the cabin were from the zippers on our camera bags. Bison’s frame is stiff; there’s no tweaking, everything is absolutely tight. There was no way to call out the suspension and its Multimatic spool-valve-type dampers, however the suspension was supple on the rough trail. Another noise-related note, we picked up no rock noise in the wheel wells despite being pushed around by potholes, rocks and dips. We might as well have been on the freeway, from a noise perspective. Our truck had almost every American Expedition accessory available. There were LED fog or trail-search lights on the hood, a ladder rack and a storage bin system mounted below a false bed. We only lacked the Baja-style intake snorkel. The bolted-on roof rack may have added stiffness to the already ultra-stiff box frame, which allowed the suspension do its work. Watching the vehicles ahead of us, we could see how steady the beds were, and how much the suspension was working. For a stock vehicle, there was plenty of travel available. Bison has a solid rear axle and independent front suspension, and there is a divide among off roaders and rock climbers as to whether a solid axle or independent rear suspension is better. Rock climbers seem to prefer solid rear axles. We thought the ZR2-based Bison chassis with a Duramax diesel made off roading almost a no-challenge event. The diesel engine was totally on-point with torque, needing only a light application of brakes for stability when balancing on rocks. Comparatively, those who had the standard V-6 gasser had a harder time of it, using more throttle to obtain torque, then having to feather the throttle and brake to stay on track. If you've never done rock crawling, you must apply power to get up, apply brake to stop, before being guided down in the correct direction. Yeah, it's really hard to see the front wheels through the engine. One of the options Chevy will offer through dealers is a shorter, cut off exhaust tip. We strongly recommend this if you’re going rock crawling. Many of us “modified” the longer exhaust tips when crawling off rocks. After crawling a rock canyon we grouped to head for lunch. Parked on a hill with loose sand and the tranny set in 4WD high, there wasn't enough traction. Locking the rear differential made climbing the hill as simple as stepping on the throttle, in that low traction situation. Having complete control over axles and each wheel made off roading and rock crawling easy, even for beginners. Note that, in our opinion, the Duramax doesn't deliver optimum fuel economy for the Bison. It's good, but not great. Where it shines is in torque availability for off roading. We can see the Bison with Duramax as a perfect combination for off road camping, adventuring, and modest towing. It's quiet. While on our rock crawls, there was never a sound from the chassis, no wracking, graunching, squeaks or rattles other than when we skidded over rock on those Boron steel protectors. It was billet solid. In fact, we'd go so far as to say our Bison was quieter than a standard Silverado and totally ready for any off road adventure. Interested in the Colorado ZR2? Join the GM-Trucks.com Colorado ZR2 Facebook Group!
  15. Thom Cannell Contributor, GM-Trucks.com November 26th, 2018 Out of the gate you have to be asking the same question as we, “A four-cylinder engine in a truck? My Silverado?" Forget that the engine is rated at 21-combined EPA fuel economy rating, similar to base V-6 engines from Ford’s (3.3.L) and Ram (3.6 with a light hybrid system). Forget that the all-new 2.7-liter engine makes more power and torque than the LV3 4.3-liter V-6 and has accumulated over one million test miles in development. Just forget it…But…Like you, we stumbled over the entire concept. For answers to what some in the industry see as a profound mistake, we turned to those directly involved in its inception since a pen was put to paper, more likely a stylus set to a digital tablet at GMs Global Propulsion Systems in Pontiac, Michigan. Read Thom's 2019 Silverado 2.7L First Drive Impressions Here Kevin Luchansky is the assistant chief engineer for the new 2.7L turbo and formerly was the group manager over all valve train and cam drives. Our interview began with his statement, “This valve train is, we believe, industry leading and industry first.” He is, of course, referring to the Tripower system of cylinder deactivation that lets this engine run on just two cylinders. We’ll get to that. A very happy and proud Kevin Luchansky, a critical member of the 2.7-liter engine team. Since pen was put to paper, development has taken approximately five years, three years since metal, and it was specifically developed as an all-new truck engine from inception. Our first question was what you’d ask, “Kevin, why a four-cylinder in a light-duty truck?” That’s a good question,” Kevin responded, “and it’s all about efficiency. A few years ago we started to look at how to make the most efficient, most fun-to-drive package we can offer our customers, … and to provide what we think the customer would want. This four-cylinder (engine) provides us with excellent torque response. On this engine torque is near instant, less than two seconds at 1,500 rpm is very, very good. In order to accomplish this, we looked at several things. The fact that you've got big cylinder displacement allows us to design the dual-volute turbo that we have, keep the (exhaust) pulses separated and allow the turbo to spool very quickly. Also, we were able to package the turbo on the four-cylinder in an ideal location. It's mounted sort of midway up on the engine and directly in the center. If you know much about engines and exhaust systems, effectively we had equal length from every cylinder to the turbo.” We asked about the competition, which is a hard fact. “This engine is the base engine on the LT, the new RST and competes with Ford’s 3.3L and Ram’s 3.6L. This engine provides a lot of torque down low, much more than the competition. We're excited for our marketing-drive events where folks can compare those applications, because this (powertrain) is significantly more powerful down low and is fun to drive because of massive torque down low.” Note that there remains confusion about this motor versus Ford’s 2.7-liter. Though of similar displacement, GM’s engine was designed as a base engine for light duty trucks. Ford’s is a premium high-performance motor. Apples and oranges. The new engine had to meet objectives in fuel economy, power, weight saving. After all, an engine program costs tens of millions of dollars. The new motor is 80 pounds lighter than the 4.3-liter V-6 engine it replaces. That motor will remain available as the base engine in Work Trucks. “We feel we are offering customers great choices with all the powertrain combinations we have. We provide six different powertrain options starting with the 4.3L V-6 and an AFM version (8 cylinders/4 cylinders) version of the 5.3L for the work truck options. Then we step up to the LT, with the 2.7-liter and 8-speed, and you can upgrade to the 5.3 with Dynamic Fuel Management where engine runs on eight cylinders down to two, whatever it needs for optimum displacement and paired with the 8-speed transmission. Then the 6.2-liter paired with the 10-speed in the upper versions like Trail Boss, and 3.0-liter diesel in some models.” One of the prime directives for the new engine was durability. “I'd like to talk about some of the hardware in the 2.7-liter, from a durability perspective. This engine is not a car engine we've taken and put a turbo on to make a lot of power. This engine was specifically designed for this application, for these cylinder pressures, a lot like a diesel engine. If you think about diesel engines, there are four-cylinder heavy-duty diesel engines available. This engine was designed similarly. If you look at the details, the hardware is similar to what you'd find in a light-duty diesel. Like the piston, which has a cast iron ring carrier that holds the top ring; that's much different than a standard naturally aspirated engine. That cast iron ring carrier can handle the high pressures that a downsized turbocharged engine produces, and makes the piston very durable.” Pistons use a cast-in iron top ring carrier for durability against high in-cylinder pressures. It’s noticeable as less reflective in the chromed display cutaway. Kevin says the program spent good money on seemingly small things, like PVD coated rings. Physical Vapor Deposition coatings are very hard coatings that reduce wear. Piston crowns in the 2.7-liter are 100-percent machined for long-term durability. “The point I want to make is that, in terms of rotating and reciprocating parts is, there was no expense spared in making this a very durable engine. For instance, this is the strongest connecting rod we've ever designed for a gas engine, a tri-metal design. It has a forged steel crankshaft, and rod and main bearings are select-fit, as seen in many light-duty diesel engines. This is for excellent wear resistance and debris resistance. There was no holding back on picking the best parts the industry has to offer.” By now you’ve likely looked at some of the power and torque charts. Torque holds at nearly 90-percent almost to the red line, with matching horsepower. “It holds on pretty good,” Kevin responded. “It makes 310 horsepower at peak, but doesn't really roll off dramatically. That makes it fun to drive, very linear.” Though its published "time-to-torque" of two seconds seems long until you count “One and Two”, it’s not much different from other engines. “Let me explain. Time to torque is an industry standard test for turbos, where you hold the engine at 1,500 rpm on a dyno and don't allow it to go up in speed. You go from zero throttle to maximum and start the count. Then you count how quickly the engine achieves 90-percent of torque. It's (a test of) how fast the turbo responds, as 1,500 rpm is where the engine spends a lot of time in its operation. The best way to think of it is, with a manual transmission and you stepped into the pedal, how fast to you get torque. Two seconds is pretty quick.” Of course this introduces questions about the dual-volute turbocharger, which is a technology sometimes seen in diesels, and with a different design than other twin-scroll turbos. “Response is all the dual-volute turbo, one Borg Warner has just released and is an industry first application. Dual-volutes are, effectively, two chambers or two separated exhaust "screws or scrolls". What you see is the integrated exhaust manifold, which does a few things for us. One is provide heat, taking heat away from the turbo when it begins to get hot. That helps us with efficiency at high loads, like towing. You can see that we've paired the center cylinders together, so cylinders two and three are paired, then cylinders one and four are paired together. What that does is make equal firing order (firing order is 1-3-4-2) so you get, basically, even pulses and they are completely separated all the way to the turbine wheel, and we've separated them as far as possible, 180° apart from one-another. That's what the industry first really is. There are dual-scroll turbos that exist in high volume, but they come together at the same point at the turbine wheel, which means you can have exhaust gas bleed over from the cylinder that's firing to the cylinder that's not firing. Keeping them separated as far as we have done provides a very strong pulse hitting the turbine blades. That's how we get the fast spooling; it's pretty neat!” Borg Warner’s dual-volute turbo uses fixed geometry instead of a variable (VGT) design. The ducts, one inside the other, wrap around concentrically with the inner channel wrapping half way around before its gasses hit the turbine wheel, the outer volute wraps an extra 180° before its stream of gas strikes the turbine. “For example, if you put your two fingers together, that's what a typical twin-scroll would resemble, each dumps into the turbo and you can have cross talk,” Kevin explained. “That reduces efficiency as cross talk reduces gas pressure to the turbo. Also, this turbo is very aerodynamically efficient at low rpm.” “What I can't stress enough is that we have focused this engine on low-speed torque delivery. You should be impressed with how much torque is available, and that gets back to efficiency and drivability. If you have lag, you'll press on the gas pedal more. If we provide instant torque the driver doesn't go as deeply into the throttle, which produces better real-world fuel economy. Our new engines are focused on low-speed torque delivery. The big four-cylinder engine arrangement allows for good gas flow separation and equal lengths to the turbo - it's harder to do that with other engine architectures. By this time we were itching to talk about the novel valve train, which GM has called Tripower (when we first heard that name we thought, Pontiac’s three two-barrel carbs?) So, Kevin, what is the new Tripower? It's simple in concept; a single pin shifts the cam's lobes to produce differing lift profiles. What we've done is, couple cylinders one and two and cylinders three and four, so the first are on one slider in this four-valve overhead cam engine. There are three lobes, the high-lift lobe, a low-lift and a no-lift lobe (Note that cylinder one is the cylinder that never de-activates so it has only low-lift lobes). Between the lobes is the shifting groove geometry. We have two pins in the actuator, one moves in one direction, the other in opposition. The way the pins work, one pin drops in and shoves over one lift, the other pin drops in and moves to the next. So, in two cam rotations we can go from high-lift to AFM cylinder de-activation. The first rotation would go from high-lift to low-lift, the next rotation would go from low-lift to AFM. It's extremely fast. We can be in AFM for fuel efficiency, and if the driver steps into the throttle we can get to high-lift within two rotations and at the same time the turbocharger is spooling. Within a few seconds the engine goes from fuel miser to making peak torque. It's really neat and seamless to the driver. The changes are imperceptible. It's simple, and robust.” Kevin points to one of two of the electronically activated fingers that move cam lobes into position for, either high-lift, low-lift, and no-lift, the later for Dynamic Fuel Management. GM is maintaining its own control over the system, the camshaft is machined in-house, “from billets of the best steel money can buy. A neat process and very robust parts and they're like jewelry when you see them on someone's desk.” Moving along, we asked about thermal management. It seems most manufacturers are using electric pumps for power management and variability. “For the 2.7, it all starts with an electric water pump. We're able to control it from basically zero pump speed to maximum. The pump is completely decoupled from the engine, which allows us to flow what the engine and other components require, including cabin heating. Turbo placement is important; the pump is down low relative to the turbo, which we'll get to. The dual-volute turbo is cooled by oil, and by water. The water is either moved by thermocycling, or pumped. Lot of people have had experience with older turbos, and our engine has both oil and water-cooling. What is neat about the four-cylinder engine and turbo placement is, you can see there is a feed line (water) that goes in to the turbo and out of the turbo and they head upward. That provides natural thermal cycling. If that's not enough, we can turn the pump on to keep the turbo cool. 80's turbos didn't have coolant, only oil, and there was lots of oil coking issues. We've designed this engine for a truck, and the devil is in the details. We paid attention to issues like cooling to drive durability.” If you’re into deep tech, or run a parts department, the pump is a brushless DC pump, and completely controlled by the ECU. Kevin says the system, the block and the head, are completely separate in their coolant systems, so, a split cooling system. “When the engine starts, there's a lot of heat in the integrated exhaust manifold. We have a pipe directly off it and we use it for exhaust heat recovery. From an efficiency standpoint, we heat the oil in the transmission and engine to get them rapidly up to operating temperature to reduce friction. What that means for the driver, it makes the engine and transmission hotter, quicker, for friction reduction, cabin heat and emissions control. Though not part of our discussion, the oil cooler is water cooled. The other thing the pump allows us to do is over-cooling unrelated to the engine speed. For instance if you're running at a light load and suddenly tip-in with the throttle and ask for a lot of torque, we can quickly force coolant at a faster speed than if the pump was attached to the crankshaft. We can overcool the cylinder head, forcing coolant into the hottest part of the head, and in turbocharged engines that reduces knock, an efficiency enabler. Remember, this is an 87-Octane engine running at 10:1 compression ratio, high for a turbocharged engine.” Injection pressure is 3,000 psi as the industry moves to higher and higher pressures. It uses mechanical (solenoid) injectors that can deliver multiple injections. There’s also a fully variable oil pump, which means it is always right-volume for the given engine condition. It's controlled by the ECU to deliver the correct oil volume under any condition. And, we confirmed that the block is high-pressure die-cast aluminum with cast-in iron liners and made in-house. The cylinder head is aluminum from a semi-permanent mold, and also made in-house. “It's all machined in-house and the engine is built in Spring Hill, Tennessee. There’s a lot of USA content in this engine.” Some of the engine's technologies focused on City fuel economy, as well as high-load conditions. “The combustion system is designed for either condition and allows us to run 87-Octane fuel. Stop-Start works well for city fuel economy, as does as Active Fuel Management and Active Thermal Management. Hidden are the friction reduction steps we've taken like the electric pumps, select-fit tri-metal bearings and a low-friction roller chain, driving the camshafts. That’s for durability, and it's relatively immune from stretching.” The engine uses driven chains to operate cams. No cogged belts for durability and long life. One other comment on durability; we run the same durability schedules as any small-block truck engine because it is a truck. Don't think we skimped on durability testing; it's as durable as the legendary small block. What we did not know prior to our interview, Kevin was the architect on the engine, putting the first lines on paper five years ago. "This was one of my ideas, and they said why don't you go and execute it." Kevin, we’re honored to know you.
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