The General has to respond to the new F-150.
The full-size pickup truck is about to undergo a significant change. No, they aren't all about to start looking like the Tesla Cybertruck. Electrification is coming. Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure battery-powered trucks are about to be unleashed by the automakers who know how to build trucks best. The Ford F-150, for example, will soon offer a hybrid variant and we know Ford is already developing and testing an all-electric version. That means competitors like GM and Ram will have no choice but to do the same. And now it appears GM is doing just that.
GM Authority has learned from sources working on the upcoming 2021 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra twins some very interesting information: the switch to an independent rear suspension (IRS). We reported on this topic very recently just after the reveal of the new 2021 Chevy Tahoe and 2021 Suburban, both also featuring a new IRS setup.
Not only are GM's next full-size trucks adopting this setup, but they're doing so for a major reason: electrification. GM engineers are reportedly busy at work building electric variants of its T1 platform-based trucks and SUVs. The goal is to have a variant of this platform, newly dubbed BT1, ready to go in the relatively near future. But why the IRS? Why not keep the current setup? Because in order for the electrification modifications to work, the existing leaf spring configuration interferes with the battery's location.
At the same time, switching to an IRS design brings several other improvements, such as an improved ride and handling, and even possible greater wheel articulation in off-road conditions.
There are some disadvantages, however, including weight gain courtesy of a heavy battery pack, higher manufacturing and maintenance costs, and reduced payload and towing capacity. The updated Silverado and Sierra will be the first to utilize the BT1 architecture, and future variants of the Tahoe/Suburban, Yukon/Yukon XL, and Cadillac Escalade will surely follow. Another interesting potential use is a revived Hummer brand, a rumor we first learned last October.
There's no doubt electrification is coming to GM's full-size trucks and SUVs. The automaker's biggest challenge will be to make these vehicles, at the very least, equal to their current iterations and convince millions of customers they're up to the task.