Advertising what's under the hood, on the hood

DETROIT -- Emblazoned on the hood of the GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept are the names “Allison Transmission” and “Duramax.” General Motors, it seems, may try branding its powertrains.

It's a concept made famous by the successful “Intel Inside” campaign. Or think of Chrysler's “That thing got a Hemi?” campaign.

“Duramax” is the name of GM's diesel engine subsidiary. But Allison Transmission, formerly a unit of GM, now is an independent company. Automakers have splashed powertrain badging on the rear of vehicles before. You've seen those badges on the back proclaiming that this car has a 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine. Or they've added decals on the side boasting that this is an electric delivery van. But badging right on the hood about what's under the hood is unusual, to say the least. The last case I can think of was on Chrysler's original hemi back in what, the 1960s?

I asked Ed Welburn, GM's head of design, about it on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. He didn't commit, but he also didn't rule out putting a powertrain brand label on the hood of a future production truck.