DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co(GM.N) offered a sneak peek on Saturday of the next generation Chevrolet Silverado pickup, designed to haul big payloads of profits for the automaker when it launches next year.
The current Silverado is GM’s best selling vehicle in North America, with sales of more than 500,000 vehicles last year. Analysts and company executives said it was also one of the manufacturer’s highest-profit model lines.
GM has disclosed investments of nearly $3 billion (2.3 billion pounds) to upgrade factories in Michigan, Indiana and Mexico that build the Silverado and its GMC brand counterpart, the Sierra.
Until now, GM has disclosed few details of the new truck ahead of its official debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
GM said it revealed an off-road version of the Silverado at an event for loyal Chevy truck owners in Texas, a state whose residents buy a lot of large, high-priced pickup trucks.
GM, in a statement, said the new Silverado will have a high-strength steel bed floor, and use “mixed materials” to achieve “a significant reduction in total weight.” Lighter weight usually translates to improved fuel economy.
Previously, GM executives signalled they did not intend to ape their top rival and build the new Silverado’s body entirely or mostly of aluminium, like Ford Motor Co’s (F.N) F-series pickups.
Detroit automakers, under pressure to boost fuel efficiency and cut carbon emissions, are slashing the weight of their best-selling large trucks. Yet the companies do not want to compromise the load-hauling capability and luxury features that allow them to command prices that average $46,984 a vehicle, according to Cox Automotive.
Ford recently launched a luxury F250 pickup that can have a sticker price as high as $94,455.
GM will offer eight versions of the new Silverado and more engine and transmission combinations than the current lineup, GM said.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is expected to unveil the next generation of its big Ram 1500 pickup at the Detroit auto show.
Reporting By Joe White; Editing by David Gregorio