GM Says 'Critical' Large SUVs Will Get Improved Fuel Efficiency
The 2015 models will arrive in U.S. showrooms during the first quarter, the Detroit-based automaker said today in a statement. The Chevrolet SUVs were slated to be shown to journalists in New York while the GMC model was to be revealed in Los Angeles.
"It is a critical program to General Motors," John Schwegman, executive director for U.S. product and pricing- trucks, said before the events.
GM expects U.S. large SUV deliveries to stay at about 250,000 vehicles a year in the U.S., returning to pre-1995 levels before cheap gasoline and attractive leases fueled a rise during the late 1990s and early 2000s to a peak of about 600,000 annually, Schwegman said.
The new large SUVs will follow GM's introduction of 18 new or redesigned vehicles in the U.S. this year as the automaker works to refresh its product lineup following its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization. Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson is planning on the new vehicles to help boost GM's North American operating margins to 10 percent by mid-decade from 7.4 percent the past three years.
GM introduced a redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra earlier this year. The large SUVs are based on similar underbodies as the new pickups and will be equipped with new engines.
One of the selling features of the new pickups is improved fuel efficiency. The new 2014 Silverado with a 5.3-liter V-8 engine and two-wheel drive gets 23 miles (37 kilometers) per gallon in highway driving, the automaker said earlier this year. That's a 2-mile-per-gallon improvement compared with the 2013 V-8 5.3-liter engine, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website.
"We expect it to be a fairly significant improvement" for the large SUVs, Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer, told reporters before the New York event. "We're not going to say any numbers at this point because we're not done with certification yet. But like our light-duty pickups that you saw fuel economy improvements, we expect a similar nice step forward on these trucks."
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