When it comes to service trucks in the construction business, it’s all about “getting the job done” at General Motors. And this year, GM has a new lineup of full-size pickups, hardworking vans, chassis cabs and cutaways, and medium-duty models for contractors to choose from.
Cost savings for GM’s commercial truck customers come in the form of specialized programs like OnStar’s Business Vehicle Manager to help manage a fleet; GM FleetTrac to provide efficient service to get drivers back on the road as quickly as possible; and longer service intervals through GM’s Oil Life Monitoring System, which tells drivers when to change the vehicle’s oil.
GM technology is also providing advancements in air bags and StabiliTrak; better fuel efficiency through truck hybrid engines and Active Fuel Management; and FlexFuel vehicles that can run on E85 ethanol or gasoline.
Moreover, GM General Manager Brian McVeigh said GM’s Fleet Account Executives would work with larger fleet accounts since GM’s Fleet Service Contact Group personnel are dedicated to resolving all vehicle service issues “quickly and efficiently.”
“General Motors Fleet and Commercial Operations offers the most extensive product lineup in the automotive industry, along with innovative, market-leading e-fleet tools and technology to give the commercial customer greater value and service,” McVeigh said. “These are just a few of the reasons why more than 14 million U.S. businesses - from small companies to giant retailers - choose GM for their transportation needs.”
Technological AdvancesGM technology is top-notch, according to Steve Matsil, Chief Engineer. Here is a sampling of the technology GM is offering in 2008:
- StabiliTrak. Electronic stability control systems, such as GM’s StabiliTrak, are becoming increasingly important on today’s vehicles. StabiliTrak helps enhance vehicle safety and increase driver confidence and control. StabiliTrak helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle during certain low-traction driving conditions such as ice, snow, gravel, wet pavement and uneven road surfaces. “At 20 mph, the StabiliTrak system activates,” said Tom Klinger, Engineering Group Manager for Chassis Control. “All passenger vans have it.”
- Oil Life Monitoring System. The GM Oil Life Monitoring System, available on most GM vehicles, is a computer-based algorithm that assesses engine oil conditions and optimized oil change intervals based on vehicle and environmental operating conditions. The system lets you know when to change the oil and filter based on engine usage.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This system monitors tire pressure and uses a visual display to alert the driver of low-pressure condition in one of more tires.
- Enhanced Technology Glass. Tempered glass is part of the overall occupant protection system on passenger vans. That is, glass that doesn’t shatter in an accident, rather it cracks allowing the driver/passengers to elude further injury from broken glass.
Alternative FuelsGM is telling service truck customers in 2008 to consider the possibility of adding alternative fuel vehicles to their fleets. After all, GM was the first original equipment manufacturer to offer hybrid full-size pickups, McVeigh said.
This year, GM is offering customers’ alternative fuel options, including E85 ethanol, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. It’s renewable fuel made mostly from U.S.-grown corn, McVeigh said. Because it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, E85 ethanol is a new energy resource. GM is building 400,000 new FlexFuel vehicles a year, which can run on E85 ethanol or gasoline.
“The overall cost savings is the reason for switching to alternative fuel,” said Gery Jankovits of GM. “Propane is one of the safest fuels. The availability of propane is another reason for the switch from gasoline. You cannot tell the difference between gas and propane.”
Additional technology offered by GM in 2008 includes more efficient Powertrains and cleaner diesel engines.
Gasoline-powered engines and transmissions are continuing to be further refined to improve fuel economy and performance, and reduce exhaust emissions. Powertrain technologies available by GM include cam phasing, port deactivation, direct injection, diesel particulate filters and six-speed automatic transmissions.
Also, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Heavy-Duty Pickups with the new Duramax 6.6L Turbo Diesel V8 comply with regulations that require the reduction of nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons by more than 50 percent and particulate matter by 90 percent. New technology and the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel are combined with the new engine to deliver the power and torque demanded by commercial customers.
“Everyone is leery about alternative fuels,” Jankovits said. “The bottom line: It’s good for the environment.”
Vehicle SafetyPaul Simpson, a GM engineering group manager, said the Vehicle Safety Crashworthiness Laboratory at the GM Proving Ground in Milford Township, Mich., invested over $10 million in the facility, which is an “ideal place to test vehicle safety.”
“GM has a long history of rollover research - a consistent leader in terms of safety,” Simpson said. “GM was the first to create rollover research in North America. … Even large vehicles can become airborne.”
In particular, Simpson said service trucks require a “federal standard for strength” before they can be distributed to dealerships across the world. “We perform cargo retention testing … to see what impact cargo has on our trucks,” Simpson said. “Most trucks that leave here will eventually be outfitted to certain specifications.”