With fuel economy concerns gripping the industry, the latest speculation is that GM will turn to eight-speed automatics and turbocharging to keep its biggest trucks relevant.
With automakers entering into talks with the Obama administration this week concerning new corporate average fuel economy standards that could range anywhere from 47 to 60 MPG by 2025, fuel economy is one of the foremost issues for the entire auto industry. The rumor mill also seems to be focused on fuel efficiency, as the latest whisperings are that GM is likely to add eight-speed automatic transmissions and turbocharged engines to its next generation of full-size trucks.
Though there is yet no official word from GM concerning the powertrains for the successors to the long in the tooth GMT900 full-size pickups and SUVs, there is reason to take the recent speculation seriously.
For starters, GM recently announced that it will invest $250 million in a transmission plant in Toledo, Ohio. One of the plant's main products: a new eight-speed transmission that can be adapted for use in longitudinal-engined, rwd vehicles.
While there is less hard data to support the turbocharging component of the rumor, the General has clearly shown with the turbo engines in the Chevrolet Cruze and Buick Regal that the technology is part of its long term strategy. Additionally, countering rival Ford's Ecoboost V6, which has been implemented with a fair amount of sales success in the F-150, would seem a logical step to take.
Exactly what engines might end up in the full-size trucks is unclear, although a turbo 3.6-liter V6 and a small-displacement pushrod V8 are possibilities. However, GM is being conspicuously silent on its next generation of engines (in marked contrast to Ford's media blitz in preparation for its Ecoboost engines), so a few surprises are likely in this area.
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