) -- As it rolls out its new model 2014 Chevrolet Silverado,
(GM - Get Report)
obviously got the timing right.
What remains to be seen is whether GM got the truck right.
The 2014 Silverado 1500 pickup is being introduced on Thursday, at a time of nearly daily news about the revival of the housing market and the construction industry, the key market for pickup trucks. GM calls its new truck "from hood to hitch, the most refined, best engineered Silverado ever."
The new Silverado features three new EcoTec3 engines, designed for more power and improved efficiency; a stronger, quieter more comfortable cab; revised steering, suspension and brakes; new solutions for managing cargo in the bed, and enhanced towing and hauling capability.
"Our customers rely on their trucks to meet the day-to-day challenges of earning a living, running a business and taking care of their families," said Mark Reuss, president, GM North America, in a prepared statement. "Chevrolet is committed to giving truck customers the most refined, best engineered pickups in the market."
Through 11 months, Silverado is the third best-selling U.S. vehicle, trailing the
(F - Get Report)
F-150, the leader for three decades, as well as the
(TM - Get Report)
This year, Ford has been easily winning the battle for pickup buyers, particularly
GM said its November decline largely reflected high pickup truck incentives by competitors who were clearing out the 2012 models.
In a recent report on the truck market, Edmunds.com noted that truck sales account for 28.6% of all Ford sales, the highest truck share for any automaker, with Ford's share up 1.3 percentage points in the last five years. GM's truck share, meanwhile, is down 1.5 percentage points in the last five years to 22.5%.
Many analysts expect the 2014 Silverado to significantly benefit GM, particularly given the fortuitous timing of its introduction next year.
"When construction gets going, workers need trucks, and many of them have been holding off buying new ones these past few years," said Edmunds.com economist Lacey Plache, in a prepared statement. "Our research shows that America's truck fleet is at a record 10.4 years old. The housing market is showing its most dramatic signs of recovery out west and down south, so we can expect a boost in U.S. truck sales to start there."
The 2014 Silverado builds on 95 years of Chevrolet truck heritage. GM said the exterior design "blends strong Chevy truck heritage with a refined, modern aesthetic" and is "more muscular, more functional and more aerodynamic.
" A twin-port grille, full-width bumper and dual power dome hood create a strong presence, which is carried through in sculpted body sides and fender flares," the automaker said. "The front end is engineered to improve sealing for more efficient cooling, and new inlaid doors reduce wind noise."
Engine choices include a V-6 and two V-8s, all with direct fuel injection, cylinder deactivation and continuously available valve timing. All three switch seamlessly to four-cylinder operation to improve efficiency during light load driving, GM said.
New interiors feature controls that are "easy to operate with work gloves on," while rear doors are larger and hinged at the front for easier access. The cab is stronger, with nearly two-thirds made from high-strength steel. A corner-step bumper makes the pickup box easier to access.
GM said the new trucks will undergo more than 6 million miles of durability testing and will accumulate real-world mileage in excess of 7 million miles during final testing, bringing total test miles to more than 13 million. Pricing has not yet been announced.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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