Automakers extend lines of light and heavy duty pickups

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A black 2009 Chevrolet Silverado hybrid.

General Motors has new things in store for the Silverado light duty pickup (2009 hybrid model shown). (Photo Credit: Public Domain/IFCAR/Wikipedia)

Americans still love their pickups, as witnessed by automakers’ intense focus on extending its lines of light- and heavy-duty models. General Motors is redesigning its trucks for today’s fuel-conscious drivers, Daimler is adding jobs to increase truck production, and Mitsubishi is designing an all-electric pickup just for farmers.

GM offers extensive redesigns

By 2013, GM dealers will feature exciting new versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. These trucks will offer drivers increased gas economy through improved aerodynamics and engine improvements that allowed GM to cut mass without sacrificing performance. Both trucks will come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The chassis will be cosmetically redesigned, although not markedly different from the Silverado and Sierra light duty truck models seen in 2010.

Daimler adds jobs for Freightliner

Daimler AG has announced that it will create 1,100 jobs and add a second shift at its Freightliner truck plant in Cleveland, N.C. An additional 100 positions will be created at the nearby facility in Gastonia. Both efforts are intended to prepare for a huge production spike in the Class 8 heavy-duty truck.

“Freight volume is back up to pre-crisis levels, and vehicle fleets are now being gradually replaced after not having been modernized for several years,” noted the company in a press release.

Demand for heavy duty, long-range trucks is spiking as the industry fights to recover from the recession. There is currently a six-month backlog for Daimler’s Cascadia model. The Cleveland plant produces several Class 8 models, including the Freightliner Cascadia, Columbia and Argosy.

The electric farmer

In other truck news, Mitsubishi has gone on record with its goal of converting more than half of its annual sales to all-electric vehicles by 2020. In light of this, it isn’t surprising that a light-duty electric pickup is in the works. Following in the footsteps of the Minicab-MiEV (which is made in a partnership with Suzuki), Mitsubishi’s third EV will easily charge from standard household outlets. A company press release notes that the new vehicle will be “targeted at farmers, contractors and others who use light trucks for their work.”

Reports indicate that Mitsubishi’s EV light duty pickup will be a relative bargain at less than 1.5 million yen ($19,223 in the U.S.).

A dissenting opinion on light duty trucks


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