GM’s pickup cash machine will get a expertise tuneup

DETROIT, Sep 9 (Reuters) – General Motors Co (GM.N) will be giving its best-selling Chevrolet Silverado large pickup truck models a makeover next spring to address competitive imperfections that have put Chevy third in one of the world’s most lucrative vehicle segments.

Catching up with competing trucks from Stellantis NV (STLA.MI) and Ford Motor Co (FN), in 2022 most Silverado models will get larger dashboard screens and new connectivity technology with built-in Google voice commands and software.

Chevrolet will also add a 420-horsepower Silverado ZR2, which is designed for rugged off-road adventures – or to make it seem like the owner would have it. The Silverado ZR2 will chase Ford’s F-Series Raptor and Stellantis’ Ram TRX, which are eye-catching performance models for these brands.

The current Silverado, which came on the market in early 2019, was surpassed in sales by the Ram pickup from competitor Stellantis NV. The 2018 Ram received a makeover with a refined interior and a 12-inch (30.5 cm) dashboard screen that was closer to the style of a Tesla (TSLA.O) Model S sedan as a conventional pickup.

The Fiat Chrysler unit of what is now Stellantis also expanded Ram pickup manufacturing capabilities in North America. to oust the Chevy Silverado as the No. 2 brand in the North American pickup segment.

That strategy – led by Mike Manley, now head of Stellantis North America – worked. By the first half of 2021, Rams pickups had surpassed the Silverado and, according to sales data compiled by Automotive News, are now in second place behind Ford’s F-series trucks, the best-selling model range in the US for more than 40 years.

SMARTPHONE-LIKE EXPERIENCE

Steve Carlisle, head of GM’s North American business, told Reuters that GM has learned from Ram’s challenge. “You have to be very agile and react,” he said. “And maybe you ask different kinds of questions.”

Going forward, Carlisle sees the market moving from “bigger is better” in dashboard displays to more emphasis on improving the user experience.

Carlisle said his goal for the redesigned Silverado was to oust Ford from the top spot in the segment.

“We’re not going to rest until that happens,” he said, although he added, “we’re going to do the right thing from a brand perspective.”

Ram and Ford have their own upgrades for 2022. Ram trucks will receive improved infotainment systems. Ford is promoting and promoting a hybrid system available for the F-150 pickup that can power a home fully electric F-150 Lightning is coming next spring.

The new Silverados receive further new technologies. The redesigned trucks will be the largest application of GM’s partnership with Alphabet Inc (GoogL.O) Google to create a more smartphone-like experience in cars. And top-of-the-line Silverados will optionally offer GM’s Super Cruise system to enable hands-free driving on more than 200,000 miles (321,869 km) of roads in Canada and the United States.

The Silverado ZR2 responds to a more traditional form of automotive competition. Powerful pickup trucks equipped with tall, stout suspensions and other modifications to tackle races over rough deserts or jumping sand dunes are the 21st century answer to Detroit’s 1960s muscle cars. Ford and Ram had developed models for extreme off-road enthusiasts. Chevy doesn’t. Now it will.

Carlisle said that 60% of the Chevrolet Silverados sold now are “lift trucks” with high suspensions. The Silverado ZR2 will add a 420 hp eight-cylinder petrol engine to the formula. Carlisle said the ZR2 could account for more than 10% of Silverado sales.

Ford’s Raptor has a starting price of nearly $ 66,000. Carlisle said the Chevrolet ZR2 will be “more accessible” with a lower starting price.

Reporting by Joe White in Detroit Editing by Matthew Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

GM’s first-quarter gross sales up 3.9% on sturdy client demand

A customer looks at a General Motors Co. Chevrolet vehicle on sale at a Colma, Calif. Car dealership on Monday, February 8, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

DETROIT – General Motors’ Vehicle sales in the first quarter were driven by strong consumer demand as fleet sales cratered and semiconductor chips remained in short supply closed some assembly plants.

The Detroit automaker announced Thursday it had sold 642,250 vehicles in the first three months of the year, up 3.9% year over year when Covid-19 began to force dealers and auto plants to close in March.

GM and the majority of the other major automakers in the US are expected to report first-quarter sales on Thursday. Analysts expect sales across the industry to grow 8% or 9% compared to the first quarter of 2020, despite automakers being hit by a shortage of semiconductor chips.

According to GM, retail sales to individual consumers rose 19% in the first quarter, while fleet sales to corporate and government customers declined 35% year over year. The automaker expects consumer demand to remain stable this year.

“Consumer confidence and spending will continue to rise due to incentives, rising vaccination rates and the gradual reopening of the economy,” said Elaine Buckberg, GM’s chief economist, in a press release. “Demand for automobiles should remain strong all year round.”

GM’s Buick, Cadillac, and GMC brands saw double-digit sales increases in the first quarter, while Chevrolet – the largest brand – fell 1.7%. Chevrolet’s decline was due to a 12.5% ​​drop in sales of its full-size Silverado pickups, which the automaker attributes to a shortage of inventory due to production and shipping disruptions due to the coronavirus and chip shortages.

Hyundai’s record month

Automakers, traditionally less reliant on US fleet sales, had better sales than GM in the first quarter. They include: Volkswagenincreased by 21%; Toyota Motorincreased by 21.6%; Hyundai Motor, increased by 28%; and Kia Motors by 22.8%. While Stellantis – the merged automaker of Fiat Chrysler and France-based Groupe PSA – posted a 5.1% increase in sales, including a 25% increase in retail sales. Ford engine Sales increased 1% in the first quarter.

Hyundai’s sales were particularly impressive. For the quarter, the South Korean automaker’s results relied on a 38% increase in retail sales, including the best monthly retail and total sales ever in March.

“We had a great month. I mean, almost unexpected all-time records,” said Jose Munoz, CEO of Hyundai North America, on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Thursday. “I have to be optimistic, but there are a lot of challenges in the automotive industry these days.”

Semiconductor shortage

Automakers and suppliers warned of a semiconductor shortage At the end of last year After the demand for vehicles after a two-month shutdown of the production facilities last spring due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Among other things, semiconductor chips are extremely important components of new vehicles for infotainment systems, power steering and brakes. The parts can contain different sizes and different types of chips.

“This chip shortage affects everyone. We are no exception,” said Munoz. “We hope that the situation will improve in the next four to five months, maybe a recovery in the third and fourth quarters. But for now we have to be very careful and try to optimize ourselves as we have done so far.”

Hyundai has been less affected by the chip shortage than others such as the Detroit automakers, each of which has announced significant production cuts for domestic plants.

Most recently, Ford announced plans to cut production on Wednesday in six plants in North America due to the problem, including plants that produce highly profitable pickup trucks.

The consulting firm AlixPartners estimates that the shortage of chips will decrease $ 60.6 billion in sales from the global automotive industry this year.