GM Engineers Took Ford F-150 Factory Tours When Developing The New Chevy Silverado And GMC Sierra

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.”

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  • Victor Ferreira

    I mean, is anyone really surprised? Industrial “espionage” and such isn’t a new thing. In fact, kudos to them to admitting they could learn from the competition. PS: Interesting that the transmission once again says “PRNDL” instead of the more recent “PRNDM.”

    • Zandit75

      Intelligence gathering and Espionage are two very different things.

    • bart medes

      You really this stupid? espionage? They were working designing and testing the most advanced tranny ever put in any truck. They were at each others HQs and info was shared. Ford had Gms trucks at their testing grounds and vise versa.

      • Victor Ferreira

        It literally says they posed as general public in the tour and outright bought trucks to dissect them. Learn how to read and chill, damn.

  • TrevP

    I’m sure Ford has done it too

  • lagunas3ca

    Doesn’t get any friendlier than Porsche signing, “Good luck Honda from Porsche, See you on the other side” under the engine cover of a 911 GT3 (after being serviced for recall on connecting rods) that Acura was testing while developing the NSX.

    • donald seymour

      Oh I remember that. That was comedy gold.

  • TheBelltower

    The tours are open to anyone, so its a minimal amount of effort to do that. If they didn’t, they really don’t deserve to keep their jobs.

  • danno

    Quote “Executives also told the publication “We think we have thousands of dollars advantage [over Ford] just in the aluminum costs. It’s big.””

    I have a hard time believing that. The aluminum doesn’t cost more than “thousands of dollars”.

    • eb110americana

      It may be that the GM trucks use less of the stuff. Not only do aluminum panels use more metal due to thickness, but GM uses targeted materials, so large areas such as the bed are made from high strength steel, which is cheaper.

      • danno

        Could be but what does the raw sheet aluminum for a Ford pickup cost vs the raw sheet steel and raw sheet aluminum for the GM pickup. Midwest steel and aluminum lists a 4′ x 12′ x 0.10″ thick sheet of 6061 aluminum at $600. 10 of these sheets probably makes a pickup truck. Ford volume discount would probably be 50% off list. 10 x $300 = $3,000 for the raw sheet aluminum cost in the Ford pickup.
        Again – Not sure about GM’s comment.

  • TheToadPrince..~~ToadSquad

    Ford and GM are soo much into competiton that they r basically copying each other…same 4banger display same 10 spd auto ..silverado looks like the f150…this is why i love Ram..Ram stays in their own game qnd bring out something diff…such as that new etorque thats comin.

    • performante

      Ford doesn’t offer a 4 cylinder in the F150. If you’re thinking about their 2.7 ecoboost, it is a 6 cylinder. Also, the transmission was a joint venture between them both.

      • bart medes

        Ya ignore that guy.

    • Infinite1

      The new Titan also looks like an F150. Nissan even made the “Warrior” to compete against the Raptor

  • ErnieB

    Too bad they made an ugly truck..

  • Bo Hanan

    Someone at GM should be scheduling the Cadillac team for tours of Mercedes, BMW & Lexus.

    • SteersUright

      Hahaha. Totally right!

    • Jim Ragland

      Maybe they can learn a thing or two about doing interiors the right way…:-)

      • Infinite1

        Haha, so true

  • An Existing Person

    I still think the Ram is my favorite of the big three. I’d even rather have a Titan over Ford and GM.

    • SteersUright

      The new Ram definitely looks the most impressive. I wonder if it really is any better though?

      • :/ Yurr

        The reliability is not.

  • Astonman

    Now if they could make the interiors better….

    • SteersUright

      I know. Is there a rulebook dictating ugly, boxy interiors for full size trucks?

      • Astonman

        I have a hard time why I don’t like GM’s interiors. I just don’t like it

  • Six_Tymes

    Not surprised, NISSAN did the same for their TITAN

  • Harlan McCartney

    “they could make their doors lighter and cheaper by using a combination of aluminum and high-strength steel.”

    Ahh Galvanic corrosion FTW!

  • ygiagam

    If GM would combine the GMC and Chevy brand, they could overtake Ford. GM sells two different branded trucks, it would help if they sold only one brand

  • Sukhoi31m3

    Did GM ever get that clunking lower intermediate steering shaft fixed? They need to check out the one on the F150, it doesn’t clunk.

  • BGM

    What is up with the bad PS job on 18 & 19? They forgot to make the wheels the right size….

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