Ken Sohocki is the chief engineer at General Motors' Truck Group responsible for the GMT800, GM's new full-sized pickup truck program. He spoke with Staff Reporter Aaron Robinson earlier this month at the media preview in Tucson, Ariz.
What areas did you concentrate on in the redesign of the C/K?
From a customer perspective, the No. 1 priority was for reliability and durability.
Primarily, we focused in on engines, transmissions, axles, air conditioning systems, basically the things that are big dollars to repair.
We went in and prioritized the systems that were having the greatest impact on repurchase intent and focused in on those. It was a win from a business standpoint, because the things that were critical to the customer were also the ones that cost us the most money from a warranty standpoint.
Then why risk the program with all this new technology?
Just doing a program of this size is significant enough risk. At some point you ask, how much risk do I want to take on, and you have to balance cost issues.
Engineers would always like to do more, but I think we bit off plenty. Where technology was applied, it was done for very specific reasons. For example, hydroforming wasn't done because we saw a demonstration that was really slick, it was done because we had concerns about maintaining dimensional control on our front frames for sheet metal fits.
How much did you shop the GMT800's parts in the marketplace?
Let's face it, when we take the 800 out to the marketplace and say we have some parts we'd like to source, we generate some interest. In some cases we've even leveraged the business to save money on other vehicle lines.
We've bundled 800 pieces with other smaller car programs and said, 'If you want this 800 business, you also have to (do) these other car programs.' Some of the savings on the 800 won't show up on the 800; it'll show up on other vehicles.