2011 GMC Sierra – Click above for high-res image gallery
About a year before General Motors entered bankruptcy, various reports claimed that the automaker postponed the next generation of the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado from 2012 to an unknown future date. It wasn't big news at the time, since the well-liked trucks were only two years into their production cycles, not to mention that high gas prices were limiting the appeal of trucks for recreational buyers. But now that we're half way through 2011, truck buyers are most definitely back in the mix, and The General may be looking to speed up the timeline on the next-generation model.
Automotive News reports that GM's U.S. sales boss, Don Johnson, revealed that the truck plants would be re-tooled during scheduled shutdowns in 2012. If GM were to begin building Silverado and Sierra trucks right after the retooling takes place, that would make the trucks 2013 models. But sources tell AN that the retooling will take place throughout 2012, and that the trucks likely wouldn't be built until calendar year 2013, making them 2014 models.
The news corresponds with comments made by The General's VP, Mark Reuss, who said in January that some truck programs would be accelerated. But in April, GM CEO Dan Akerson said that trucks wouldn't be accelerated in a mileage-sensitive market, so it's difficult to discern exactly which direction GM is heading.
GM hasn't been very forthright with the amount of changes scheduled for the next-generation trucks, though the expectation is that the updates will be substantial. With 2016 fuel economy regulations right around the corner and the recent resurgence of $4/gallon gasoline, the new pickups will definitely need to be lighter and more efficient.