GM plans to produce new cutaways

General Motors next month will start making a new diesel-powered cutaway for Class C motor homes and medium-duty trucks at its Flint, Mich., truck assembly plant.

A cutaway is a van cab left open in the back so it may be attached to either a motor home body or a truck.

GM's cutaway will come in two models: The C4500, for vehicles with a maximum gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 16,000 pounds, and the C5500, for vehicles with GVWRs of 18,000 and 19,500 pounds. The cutaways will begin production in mid-December and arrive at GM dealerships in January.

To date, GM's cutaway has a maximum GVWR of 12,300 pounds, compared with competitor Ford Motor Co.'s 14,050-pound maximum. The higher GVWR on GM cutaways will allow motor home makers to add equipment, such as dual air conditioners and extra slide-outs.

In the spring, Ford, which owns the majority of the Class C motor home cutaway market, will introduce two cutaways, with GVWRs of 17,500 pounds and 19,000 pounds.

John Millis, Class C motor home product manager at Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. of Riverside, Calif., is concerned that the higher GVWR chassis may push Class C pricing too close to that of the more upscale Class A units. Class C buyers are younger and more price sensitive than Class A buyers, Millis says.

Bill O'Leary, product development vice president for Winnebago Industries Inc. of Forest City, Iowa, says: "Winnebago needs to see strong dealer reaction for us to pursue putting a body on those chassis."

The motor home maker plans to look for that reaction at this week's National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

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