December 13th, 2012 at 11:50am
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.
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.
ALL-NEW SILVERADO & SIERRA
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 THE AWARD GOES TO…
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 DUMPS VOLVO TRUCKS
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 OPENS ANOTHER BATTERY PLANT
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.
BMW i3 EXTERIOR DESIGN
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.