News Round-up: 03/10/2014 A service of CHR Public Relations
- Crain's Detroit Business: What the new paint shop in Flint means for construction jobs and the environment…
- Edmunds.com: Thinking about buying a Corvette? It will now cost you more…
- Los Angeles Times: "..Maybe these GM full-size SUVs aren't dinosaurs after all. Maybe they're more like cows — cash cows. No wonder GM isn't quite ready to put them out to pasture.
Crain's Detroit Business
General Motors Co. broke ground last week on its biggest investment in Flint in more than a decade: a 600 million paint shop addition at the Flint Assembly plant, MLive.com reported.
Actual construction won't start until the second quarter of this year and isn't expected to be operational until October 2016. But the 596,000-square-foot building will start to take shape in the summer.
At its peak, GM officials said, about 280 people will work about 270,000 hours on construction. As equipment is installed, those numbers will rise to 550 people expected to work 1 million hours.
Flint Assembly builds heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra crew and regular cab trucks and is capable of producing light-duty Chevrolet Silverado crew and regular cab trucks. There are 2,576 hourly and 245 salaried employees working three shifts at the plant.
With the new paint shop, paint sludge sent to landfills from Flint Assembly is expected to decline 90 percent, gas use to be reduced 20 percent and electricity use to drop 40 percent.
GM's spending on the paint shop is its biggest investment in Flint since Flint Engine Operations, built for about $500 million, began production in 2001. Back to Top
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe starts at $53,995, including a $995 destination charge, reflecting a mid-year, $2,000 price increase.
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible is also $2,000 more expensive, with a starting price of $58,995, including shipping.
Corvette Stingrays are flying out of dealerships, according to the GM monthly sales report issued this week.
The automaker sold 2,438 Corvettes in February 2014 versus 980 in February 2013, for a 149 percent sales increase, the report said. The monthly report does not break out coupe versus convertible sales.
Car shoppers should be aware that the Corvette's Z51 package is now a $4,000 option. A base 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe with the Z51 package starts at $57,995, including shipping.
The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray competes with the Porsche 911 and Audi R8, among others.
Edmunds says: The price increase, which is understandable given the demand, should not hold back car shoppers intent on getting into a Corvette Stingray this spring. Back to Top
Los Angeles Times
General Motors Co.'s lumbering full-size SUVs are dinosaurs from a bygone era… Yet the new Chevy and GMC models — rolling into dealerships now — show that GM isn't ready to give up on the segment. The automaker has dominated large SUVs for years, grabbing an average of 68% of all sales over the last decade. GM hopes the overhaul it gave the new Chevy Tahoe and Suburban and the GMC Yukon will maintain this stranglehold as it continues to milk big profits from a waning market.
These 2015 GM models certainly hit their marks: style, refinement and efficiency are all improved. The updates should help the SUVs widen their lead over competitors that haven't been updated much in years. This includes GM's closest competitor in this segment, the Ford Expedition, as well as the Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.
GM may toss in more updates later in these models' life span, including a diesel engine or a nine- or 10-speed automatic transmission. Such updates will be crucial, especially considering that Ford will debut a new Expedition this year, swapping its V-8 for Ford's popular EcoBoost turbo V-6.
It's not hard to see why GM wants to maximize sales, even in a segment that's expected to dwindle to less than 1% of the market by 2019.
Chevy's Tahoe and larger Suburban are largely based on the brand's Silverado full-size truck. A base Silverado with a V-8 goes for about $28,000 before any rebates or incentives.
The base price of a 2015 Tahoe is $45,890.
Yes, the Tahoe offers more amenities. But unless Chevy is weaving $100 bills into the Tahoe's seat cushions or lining the glove box with rare earth metals, there's no way the difference costs the brand $18,000 per vehicle.
The pot only gets sweeter for GM once buyers stray into the fancier GMC Yukon and Yukon Denali models, or pile options onto their Chevy like those on our loaded tester — which stickers at an eye-popping $70,000. And buyers in this segment have the money to spend; Chevy said its target buyer for the Tahoe and Suburban have an average household income of about $128,000….
The ride quality on our tester benefited from GM's magnetic ride control suspension, which continuously varies the impacts from the road and adjusts accordingly. This system has proved itself on the likes of Chevy's Corvette Stingray and performance-oriented Camaro models, and it doesn't disappoint in the Tahoe — more than one passenger commented on its surprisingly comfy ride. The system is standard on the high-end LTZ version we tested, as well as various GMC models.
The cabin was whisper quiet, sealed off from the harsh road and wind noise. Chevy uses higher-grade materials in this generation of Tahoe, and everything is bolted together with laudable attention to detail and craftsmanship.
The front and middle seats (captain's chairs on our tester) offered gobs of space. But the third row was short on legroom in the Tahoe and still snug on the larger Suburban, surprising given both vehicles' overall girth. At least the rear seats now fold flat rather than needing to be hauled into your garage to gather dust and cat hair.
Blame this lack of space on these vehicles' old-school solid rear axle and suspension design. GM chose not to invest in independent suspension, a stark contrast to the Expedition. In addition to the Ford's smoother ride quality, third-row space in the Expedition and Expedition EL models resembles your living room.
Under the hood of both Chevy SUVs is an all-new 5.3-liter V-8 engine. Though the size is the same, a higher compression ratio, direct injection and cylinder deactivation combine to boost power and efficiency.
Horsepower jumps to 355 from 320, and torque rises to 383 pound-feet from 335. A six-speed automatic transmission remains. While this powertrain was enough to move the nearly 5,700-pound Tahoe around, the transmission at times felt a bit sleepy in its downshifts.
But the engine is plenty refined and a bit less thirsty. The all-wheel-drive Tahoe tested is rated at 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, gains of one mile per gallon for each category. During five days of driving, more on the highway than in the city, we averaged 17.8 mpg.
As mentioned, our test vehicle was a loaded Tahoe LTZ with an eye-watering price tag. This version included a long list of high-dollar amenities that pushed the price to $70,085. That's well into the territory of a healthy BMW X5 or Range Rover Sport, both of which just spank the Tahoe in terms of pure luxury.
But for buyers willing to stomach such a high bill, the goodies included leather seats that were heated and cooled up front, an 8-inch touch-screen navigation and infotainment system, a rear-seat DVD player, power-retractable running boards, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and 20-inch wheels.
Throw in the cylinder deactivation, the fancy suspension and newfound refinement, and maybe these GM full-size SUVs aren't dinosaurs after all. Maybe they're more like cows — cash cows. No wonder GM isn't quite ready to put them out to pasture.
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
Times' take: The segment leader gets better, but weaknesses linger
Highs: Quiet, refined cabin; smooth ride; increased efficiency
Lows: Third-row and cargo space still down, V-8 still sleepy and thirsty…
Base price: $45,890…
Powertrain: 5.3-liter, direct-injected V-8 engine, part-time all-wheel drive
Transmission: six-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy rating: 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway
Back to Top