General Motors recently overtook Ford in truck market share, but the company has a long way to go if it ever wants to dethrone the Ford F-150 which has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for decades.
The company is well aware of this fact and it’s not surprisingly they paid special attention to the F-150 when they were developing the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The lengths that GM went to were recently revealed by Tim Herrick who is the company’s executive chief engineer for truck programs.
Speaking to Reuters, Herrick said several GM engineers took the Ford Rouge Factory Tour – which is open to the public – to get a better idea of how Ford builds the aluminum intensive F-150. These tours apparently revealed several weakness as Herrick said Ford had a “real hard time getting those doors to fit.”
Besides taking tours of a competitor’s factory, GM bought F-150 doors to tear them apart and see how they were constructed. This research led the company to discover they could make their doors lighter and cheaper by using a combination of aluminum and high-strength steel.
This focus on lightweight design is visible elsewhere on the trucks as the Silverado and Sierra have a high-strength steel frame which is 88 lbs (40 kg) lighter than before. Aluminum is also used for the hood and tailgate, while higher-end versions of the trucks have carbon-composite second-stage springs. Thanks to these and other changes, the trucks weigh up to 450 lbs (204 kg) less than the 2018 models.
The Silverado and Sierra are massively important to GM as Reuters says investor disclosures suggest the company makes at least $17,000 (£13,240 / €14,732) in pre-tax profit on every full-size truck they sell. Executives also told the publication “We think we have thousands of dollars advantage [over Ford] just in the aluminum costs. It’s big.”