Episode 1033 – All-New Silverado & Sierra, Renault Dumps Volvo Trucks, BMW i3 Design Explained

December 13th, 2012 at 11:50am

Runtime: 9:11

GM takes the wraps off the all-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra ahead of their Detroit debut. Renault dumps its stake in Volvo trucks. The finalists for the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards have been announced; we’ll tell you which ones are in the running. All that and more, plus John McElroy gets a walkthrough of the BMW i3′s styling with the head of the company’s i design.

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Hello and thanks for joining us. I’m John McElroy and here are some of the most important stories going on in the automotive industry today.

GM introduced its all-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra today, both critically important pick-ups for those brands, and from a profitability standpoint, critically important to General Motors. Pricing, fuel economy and other specifications will be released at a later date, but here’s what we’ve got so far. As you can see, the styling of the Silverado is very evolutionary. I dare say that people who don’t follow the truck market closely may not even notice that this is a new truck. But the Sierra is a more daring design. Here’s a clever design feature. The corners of the back bumpers are notched so that they become an easy step up to the truck bed. Also, the tailgate features a torsion bar and rotary damper that makes it easy to open and close. Inside the styling change is more noticeable. The gauges are larger to make them easy to read and the buttons and controls can be operated even if you’re wearing work gloves. The new pick-ups now come with the MyLink infotainment system with natural language voice recognition. Under the hood, there are three brand new engines, a 4.3L V6, a 5.3L V-8 and a 6.2L V-8. All of them feature aluminum blocks, direct fuel injection, cylinder deactivation, continuously variable valve control; cross-bolted main bearing caps, and structural aluminum oil pan. The engines are all mated to 6-speed automatics. Like I said, GM hasn’t released horsepower ratings or fuel economy numbers or other specifications. For now we’ll just have to enjoy looking at the pretty pictures.

And who knows? If those specs are good enough the Silverado or Sierra could be a serious contender for the North American Truck Of the Year award next year. And guess what? We just got the list for finalists for the North American Car and Truck of the Year Award. In the car category the top three are…the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Cadillac ATS. On the truck and utility side the finalists are the Mazda CX-5, the Ford C-Max and the Ram 1500. The jury now has until January 2nd to determine who will win the awards, which will be announced at the Detroit auto show about a week later. I’d love to know which car and truck you think should win the award. I think that we’ll make that the question for tomorrow’s poll.

Renault has been one of the hardest hit automakers due to the slumping economy in Europe. And it needs cash, so it just sold its remaining shares in Volvo trucks. It got nearly $2 billion for its 6.5% stake. Two years ago the French automaker sold close to a 15% stake in Volvo. Renault will use the money to reduce its debt and make investments in France, Russia and China.

Nissan started building batteries for the LEAF in the U.S, at a facility located next to its assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee which also has been retooled to build the LEAF. The lithium-ion battery plant has the capacity to produce up to 200,000 units a year depending on demand. But it could take a while before it needs all that capacity. The company has only sold 46,000 LEAF’s worldwide since it went on sale two years ago.

Speaking of electric cars, coming up next, we’ll take a deep dive into the styling of the BMW i3 electric.

Benoit Jacob is the head of design for BMW i, the name of the brand BMW chose for its electric cars. At the recent LA Auto Show I asked him to show me the highlights of the exterior styling on the i3 electric.

(The BMW i3 design walkaround is only available in the video version of today’s show.)

Don’t forget to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours, we’ll get going at 6PM Eastern Time, or 23:00 GMT. It’s the show where you’ll get the best insider information in the business, so join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo later today.

And that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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32 Comments to “Episode 1033 – All-New Silverado & Sierra, Renault Dumps Volvo Trucks, BMW i3 Design Explained”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The new Silverado looks a little ‘cleaner’ than the outgoing model but I have to give the ‘nod’ to the new GMC; the big story is going to be drivetrain though (IMO).

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    What? no Diesel on any of these trucks? Yeah, I guess trucks and Diesels are not a good match, I predict the ATS and Ram will win, the former as a ataboy to GM for going after the Europeans and the latter, well based on sales volumes they need all the help they can get.

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    By avoiding all these potentially problematic technologies like turbos and air suspensions, GM is going for the durability, reliability factor on their new trucks. We all know what happens to air suspensions after the warranty expires.

  4. ColoradoKid Says:

    Here they come !

    Those Italian built FIAT based JEEP’s Marchionne’s threatened us with since day one of his tenure ;


    Doesn’t this make you so very glad we not only bailed out Chrysler , but then gave them to FIAT as well ? Warms my heart to think of all those jobs going to Italy where building cars is considered a past time in between espresso breaks

    GMC – So if GM is considering dumping the Buick brand which in fact makes no sense …. why not dump GMC which as a Brand hasn’t made a bit of sense going on over twenty years ?

    Stella !!!! I’m so confused ( when it comes to GM’s logic or lack there of ) … or not ;-)

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    #4 Well hopefully at least they won’t get drunk and stoned unlike their US counterparts.

  6. ColoradoKid Says:

    FIAT News ; BWTM

    Italy’s Prime Minister told Marchionne this week to take a flying leap when approached by Sergio on the subject of the Italian government bailing out FIAT like France just did with PSA . In the PM’s own words :

    ” If FIAT needs money so bad .. let them get it from Chrysler “

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    What happened to the V6 diesel rumored to become available for the 2013 chevy/gmc 1500′s? Same same for the ram 1500…..what happened?

  8. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 5

    Errrr …. Grappa is used in espresso in Italy like we use sugar and cream in our coffee … so little hope there either

  9. ColoradoKid Says:


    They’re diesels

    This is the US

    And most of us do not get it …. unfortunately

  10. Jim Bielecki Says:

    Are these still cam-in-block engines with pushrods?

  11. Denis from Canukland Says:

    Ford has targeted a weight loss of 700-800lbs on the next F-150 leading to significant changes. Leaders take chances and risk being significantly rewarded when successful. Those who play it safe often stagnate or get run over.

  12. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I predict that within the next 5 or so years,the Jeep brand will be sold off and chrysler will go down and stay down.As for fiat and macaroni,who th’ hell cares….

  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Wasn’t Nissan supposed to have the diesel titan out for the 2013 my in the USA? And,wasn’t that supposed to be a Cummins diesel?

  14. Bradley Says:

    ATS..um..yea..those ATS commercials..

    Should how the car is marketed be considered in assessing COTY?

    If they are accurate in representing the ideal customer for the ATS, then I do not have any interest in the ATS.

  15. Jerry Says:

    Looks like there is only one truck in the running for truck of the Year.

  16. motorman Says:

    i hope GM coats the frames on the new trucks so they don’t look like rust buckets after just one winter on the salted roads of the north east

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    here’s a link to the new trucks from GM,and the specs on the 3 new engines….


  18. gmveteran Says:


    The notched corners of the bumpers are handy, but not new or unique. I had them on my 04 Avalanche and found them very useful when loading and unloading the bed. I am a little surprised that after this long wait, the Silverado especially is so evolutionary. Lets hope the MPG figures are the revolutionary part!

    Also, thanks for the worldwide sales update on the Leaf. Do you have one for the Volt/Ampera? I am curious to see how well the Opel version has been selling. I recall hearing about waiting lists over there for the car but not much since it launched.


  19. Bob Aubertin Says:

    Hi John,

    I always enjoy your show daily.In regards to the Truck of the Year contenders,how can a Ford C-Max & Madza CX-5 be even close to resembling a truck.Who sets the criteria? Are they under the influence of ….. In my sane mind, I’ve always looked at the Full size pick-ups & Suvs as being classified as trucks.

    This category is Totally wrong.In summary the winner will be the ” Ram 1500″ Congratulations Chrysler Group.The only Real Truck in the category

  20. HtG Says:


    You’ll be able to watch the Race of Champions event from Thailand this Saturday night at 7pm on Youtube’s DRIVE channel. There is still time to get a life.

    Here’s a link to a SemiAccurate piece on how maybe Nvidia does not have the whole Audi account. Danger, long and no tailpipe.


  21. C-Tech Says:

    Good catch John, I was thinking electric plug also!

    The notches in the Chevy truck bumpers look like they came from the Avalanche.

    I hope Nissan’s battery plant can produce AAA, AA, C, and D’s as well, if they want to make money.

    For those who still question the reason for GMC, try to keep in mind that 20 years ago (actually more) the GMC brand allows the non-Chevy dealers (i.e. the former Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and currently Buick and Cadillac) to sell (profitably) trucks and suv’s. There are many customers who prefer GMC over Chevrolet and would consider other brands if GMC were dropped.

  22. aliisdad Says:

    The GMC looks pretty good, but my questions are still: Why are there still two “truck” divisions at GM? ..and, how many people REALLY need a large pickup??
    Large pickups seem like something who’s time is kinda passing and kinda of “old GM”…Gotta admit, they are kinda cool though…

  23. ColoradoKid Says:

    Another Race Fan’s (TV) heads up ( assuming you have Velocity )

    ” Rally ; The Killer Years ”

    One of the better produced documentaries on the Group B era

    Look for the repeats 8)

  24. ColoradoKid Says:


    ” I hope Nissan’s battery plant can produce AAA, AA, C, and D’s as well, if they want to make money ”

    That got a good laugh out of me ! Thanks ! You needed to put 9V’s in the mix as well though ;-)

    On the GMC issue though I respectfully disagree . There is no reason for GMC to exist anymore excepting for a minority of GMC faithful , most of which seem to have lost ‘ faith ‘ years ago considering how few GMC logo’d products one sees on the road these days

  25. HtG Says:

    Yeah, BBC showed it a couple of months ago. I just can’t believe how close to the cars some fans were getting. Like some pics from old F1 races where fans lie on the grass by a straight. So sick.

  26. syclone Says:

    After looking at the published engine specs, the V6 is the most all-new- the old 4″ bore and 3.48″ stroke have been replaced by a 3.62″ stroke common the the other GM V8s with a slightly larger bore than the 5.3 version. I find it odd that GM would continue to use a 90-degree block for the brand new V6 engine. Even though the strokes may be the same, the added complexity of an offset crankshaft to make this engine a psuedo “even fire” doesn’t make sense. Also will there continue to be a balance shaft? I’m guessing the cylinder deactivation will turn it into a four (not a three) will further compound the vibration issues. I’m sure they’ve figured it out but it sure seems like a more effort than needed.

  27. Bradley Says:

    Another Full-Size truck refresh. *yawn*

    When are we going to hear about “compact” trucks? I just saw a great looking Mighty Max for sale, it excited me more than any full size will.

  28. G.A.Branigan Says:

    “Compact trucks”…..mid size is all we’re gonna see,if that.The powers that be says there isn’t a market for compact trucks.I have always disagreed with that.IF the oems showed as much attention to the updating/improving what WAS available,there would still be a market.Look at what Ford did to the ranger.It wasn’t just out of date,it was a comparative dinosaur….but still sold.Chevy colorado? Well,nothing good to say there at all except that GM is rumored to be bringing it back in as a ‘global’ mid-size,also with an optional diesel for the US.Yeah right.The Taco is still around,over-bloated,and languishing into mediocrity like ford let happen with the ranger.And th’ beat goes on….

  29. ColoradoKid Says:

    GM Worldwide update ;

    In the past I’ve held to the opinion that unlike every other division of GM Holden was holding ( pun unintended ) their own

    An Antipode friend in the ‘ business ‘ there just corrected me .

    In fact Holden is on Government subsidies … just like every other division of GM …. is being out sold left and right by its Japanese competitors and in fact is on the brink of disaster itself along with Australian Ford . As well as the Aussie govt is considering cutting off all subsidies to Holden ( it just gets uglier )

    So … add Holden to GM’s walking dead list which of course includes all the US GM divisions along with Vauxhall and Opel

    Scratch as well any hopes of any Antipode goodies such as their Ute’s ( and a Nomad variant … T Bejima ) etc ever making it our way . It aint according to him ever gonna happen !

    Kind of really puts GM’s strategy of bringing another of their walking dead .. Opel over to Australia/NZ as well .

    So gentlemen . I stand corrected . Thems the facts . GM is on a rapid descent Worldwide towards oblivion … and thats the way it is ….unfortunately

  30. XA351GT Says:

    I predict a Ford sweep of the awards. Fusion will take honors on the car side, as I don’t hear alot of talk about the Honda and the Caddy is nice ,but Is a car with a smaller appealto the buyers.
    CMax will take the truck/SUV side as everything has to do with E/V and Hybrids . The Dodge is nice ,but just look evolutionary . Mazda just doesn’t get the buzz that other makers do.

  31. HtG Says:

    I say John will vote ATS and Mazda CX5. Don’t tell him, let it be a surprise.

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