• May 10th 2008 at 8:08PM
  • 9
The current GMT920 full-size SUVs from General Motors are very likely to be the last of their kind from the Detroit automaker. Even though new fuel economy standards give the big trucks a break based on their footprint, radical changes are likely for the next-generation models. A fully-equipped Tahoe is well over 5,500lbs and a big part of reducing fuel consumption in the next few years will be weight reduction. One step in that direction will be a shift from the body on frame designs these vehicles have used since their inception over to a uni-body structure. Ford already declared that the next-generation Explorer will be a uni-body and GM has their Lambda platform crossovers which are nearly as large as the GMT920s. Sales of the Tahoe are already down 10.5 percent this year and that trend is likely to accelerate. The next-generation models that are due to debut around 2012 will almost certainly make the jump to a smaller, lighter platform. In fact, a distinct possibility might be an SUV derived from the Zeta platform like the Denali XT pickup concept that was shown at the Chicago Auto Show this year. Without the pickup bed and with a slightly taller roof, this design could likely shave nearly 1,000lbs off the current SUVs. Regardless of the design direction that GM follows, the maxi-sized SUVs and pickups will likely never reach the sales heights they once did, meaning that GM is planning to scale back production capacity. The current 1.7 million annual capacity will probably drop to somewhere around 1 million. GM recently announced plans to cancel one shift at each of four truck assembly plants. Going forward, that production will likely be consolidated to fewer plants.

[Source: Bloomberg]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I doubt body on frame SUVs will die. They are still superior when it comes to towing. I do think the number produced will drop significantly. GM for once has shown some forethought with the Acadia, Enclave, Outlook models.
      • 7 Years Ago
      They should make them from carbon fiber and aluminum.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The SUVs are getting redesigned in 2012? That's just 4 years away! They have just redesigned their fullsize SUVs last year!

      In the last 18 years, the Suburban has been redesigned three times, yet the previous design lasted 20 years.

      Here is another question, why are new full size SUVs so much heavier than the previous generation? I would think with todays techknowlegy they can make it lighter.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'd like to see the Tahoe go away (the Lambda triplets fulfill that duty), yet keep the longer Suburban for real towing. More use of high-strength steel and aluminum, as well as lighter motors (for power seats, etc) and thinner seats could help stop its bloat. Next gen SBC engines with VVT and DI will also increase efficiency of the Suburban, but the use of unibody structure will also help the numbers (vehicles of comparable size get 2-4 mpg better).

      GM's SBC V8's are so excellent that I bet the 5.3 in a Lambda triplet would get almost the same MPG numbers, especially when they get DI.
      • 7 Years Ago
      SUVs will always be there, as there is a need for them albeit far smaller than the perceived needs of today. Remember the Suburban has been around since the '40s

      • 7 Years Ago
      to jamesFF,

      The size has increased and the weight to due to more electronics and safetyt features. Add up the weight o the airbags and the wires and there is a lot of weight.
      • 7 Years Ago
      One thing that was glossed over was the consolidation of production. That means lost jobs.
      • 7 Years Ago
      jamesFF: "In the last 18 years, the Suburban has been redesigned three times, yet the previous design lasted 20 years."

      I think that's the difference between a work truck and a fashion statement.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Other than the second last sentence, is this all speculation? While the thought of the demise of SUVs gives me the warm fuzzies deep in my insides, I suspect that it will not be the new fuel economy rules that toll that particular bell so much as the price of gas.
      Are vehicles over a certain weight exempt under the new rules as they were under the past set? (This is an earnest question).
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