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.
Executive Editor / Publisher, GM-Trucks.com
February 12th, 2019
An exciting but anything-but-confirmed rumor has started to swirl around the GM performance community recently. Here's two completely independent reports I read in the last 24 hours.
With the sheer number of white collar jobs currently being "resized" at GM, it's no surprise that anyone working on future product development might feel a little salty and inclined to chat about the projects they were working on. Does this mean these products are in development? MAYBE. We see three likely options.
Option 1- The Rumors Are True: That means the next generation Escalade will get a V-Series variant with the 650-horsepower Supercharged 6.2L LT4. If that platform was packaged for the Escalade, slapping it into a Silverado and calling it an SS would be child's play and the most likely next move. GM has been criticized for lacking a true performance truck for a long time and this could make up for the absence.
Option 2- The Rumors Were True: But not anymore. In this scenario, the leakers who knew about the projects were let go because the projects were canceled. This is also a likely option.
Option 3- The Rumors Are Not True: The whole thing was made up and taken out of context by hopeful GM Performance Enthusiasts (myself included). It was wishful thinking anyways...
Stay tuned to find out exactly which option it was. Maybe it's option #4?
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
GMC's all-new 2020Sierra Heavy Duty will feature more room and amazing towing capabilities. “The all-new 2020 Sierra HD is the most capable heavy-duty truck that we’ve ever offered,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global GMC. “For customers who demand a premium, innovative heavy-duty truck that supports their passions, the next-generation Sierra HD can pull like a pro.”
There is a lot of new and notable capabilities in the 2020 Sierra HD, so we are breaking down the key elements into bullet points.
Here are the 2020 Sierra HD general features. Trailering features come below:
A segment-exclusive available 15-inch-diagonal head-up display that offers useful trailering information, including vehicle speed, navigation information and an inclinometer display for the road grade.
An available segment-first Rear Camera Mirror.
MultiPro, the world’s first six-function tailgate, allows easier loading, unloading and bed access and is available on all trim levels.
A larger, commanding design that provides more room for cargo and occupants.
Best-in-class Crew Cab front headroom and legroom for the driver and other front-row occupants.
An all-new, segment-first, Allison 10-speed automatic transmission mated to the legendary 6.6L Duramax turbo diesel.
2020 Sierra HD Advantages Over Prior Model Include:
A longer wheelbase, a taller, more dominant hood line and taller overall height.
A larger grille and complementing functional hood scoop to feed an advanced cooling system for the Duramax turbo diesel.
Class-leading heavy-duty cargo bed volume and corner tie-downs with a new, available 120-volt power outlet.
One-inch-lower bed lift-in height compared to the 2019 Sierra Heavy Duty, providing easier loading and fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailer hitching.
New, segment-exclusive cargo bed side steps on all box styles, located in front of the rear wheel openings, that complement integrated CornerSteps in the rear bumper to improve access to the cargo area.
World’s first six-function MultiPro tailgate available on all trim levels and standard on SLT, AT4 and Denali.
GMC’s Duramax turbo diesel and new 10-speed Allison automatic transmission pairing will offer superior towing confidence. GMC isn't providing exact specs today, but says that the 2020 Sierra HD will have capabilities well in excess of 30,000 pounds. This is the first HD segment 10-speed. The Duramax 6.6L turbo-diesel engine develops an SAE-certified 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque.
2020 Sierra HD Trailering Features:
An enhanced ProGrade Trailering system featuring class-leading available 15 camera views, including a segment-first transparent trailer view to virtually see through a trailer in tow.
An available smart trailer designed to integrate the iN∙Command control system from ASA Electronics provides the ability to monitor and control select functions of compatibly equipped trailers through the myGMC mobile app.
Auto Electric Park Brake to automatically apply the parking brake to help maintain truck position when hitching.
All-new Park Grade Hold Assist enhances hill hold by using braking effort at each wheel for an extended period of time.
All-new larger, door-mounted trailering mirrors with a four-bar link providing power extend and retract for the driver and passenger sides.
Integrated trailer brake controller that works with the trailer profile in the Trailering App to recall a specified trailer’s most recent gain setting.
Tow/Haul mode that remains engaged on the next key-on cycle, for up to four hours; includes a reminder the feature is engaged.
Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control.
Trailer Sway Control.
Auto Grade Braking and Diesel Exhaust Braking.
Digital Variable Steering Assist that dynamically optimizes power steering according to driving scenarios, including trailering, and enables features like road pull compensation.
Trailering Info Label placed on the driver’s door jamb that clearly calls out the truck’s specific trailering information, including curb weight, GVWR, GCWR, maximum payload, maximum tongue weight and rear GAWR.
When Can You Get One?
The 2020 Sierra HD will go on sale "later this year" in 2500HD and 3500HD dual rear wheel and single rear wheel configurations. Flint Assembly in Flint, Michigan, will be the manufacturing location for the 2020 Sierra Heavy Duty.
Executive Editor / Publisher, GM-Trucks.com
November 26th, 2018
Our eagle eyed spy photographer has done it again. This time capturing the all new 2020 Silverado HD with next to no camouflage.
The 2020 Sierra Denali HD just dropped cover too! See the photos here.
The photographer's report:
See all of the photos from this set in this gallery:
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