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Bare Necessity Truck Concept Helps GM Forget Worries And Strife

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Channeling "The Jungle Book," the GM Bare Necessity Truck Concept is supposed to give truck buyers only what they need and nothing more. So what's that fancy reversible bulkhead doing there?

I didn't think we'd design a truck as part of the Eco Initiative project. After talking to environmentally concerned and fuel-price-shocked truck owners, we had to.

This project is a real challenge. The people I spoke with used their trucks for EVERYTHING!

We talked to truck owners who were taking personal responsibility for the environment. They were cleaning up city parks, converting their homes to solar power, taking on real projects to do their part. These projects demanded a truck. Their current trucks got less than 20 mpg. They wanted a better way to get the job done without burning so much fuel.


The Bare Necessity Idea that we tossed at these folks (the concept that people would be willing to make some sacrifices to live more efficiently) hit the mark! The people we spoke with said they needed more efficiency, but they weren't going to give up their truck altogether.

Bare Necessity Truck was born.

People do everything with their trucks. They haul big items, dirty stuff, tow trailers and sometimes have four or five people to carry.

Our engineers recommended a couple of different hybrid engines and some great weight-saving materials. The designers had to do our part to make this truck perform efficiently AND look efficient (it is kind of embarrassing driving around a large truck when there is empty space behind you).

How could we do it all with less? It meant designing the truck with fewer parts, eliminating un-necessary features, and scaling down the size of the vehicle. It also meant using more environmentally -friendly materials AND more durable long-lasting materials that don't need to be replaced for a long time. Having two doors instead of four reduces vehicle weight and parts. Having a single piece bed simplifies the truck too.

It also meant shrinking the truck without giving up capability. Quite the challenge. Sharing space between the cab and the bed seemed like a logical place to start since there is often unused space in either the cab or the bed of a pickup. The bulkhead of a current truck is the back wall that separates the cab from the bed. To share the space between the cab and the pickup bed, the bulkhead has to move.

Our Chevy Avalanche does a nice job of opening the bed into the cab for occasional use while keeping the vehicle length down. I wanted to see if we could build on this idea. The idea was to devise a bulkhead that always keeps the cab separate from the bed and effectively moves the partition forward or backwards.

After a considerable amount of sketching, cutting and pasting, I came up with one crazy idea that I thought might work, the reversible bulkhead.

Yes, the bulkhead flips 180 degrees and reverses itself. The cool thing is it swaps about two feet of space between the cab and the bed. This means we could remove up to two feet of length from the truck, quite an amount of length and weight. Now a truck that's the length of a short cab pickup can do the job of a crewcab truck. One person can transform the truck from two rows of seats with a very short bed to one row of seats with a medium length bed in under 1 minute. We came up with several other approaches to this problem, but this one will generate the most discussion.

Bare Necessity Truck is just a rough idea right now. It's a good time to weigh in if you'd like to provide constructive feedback.

The big questions are what does do it all with less mean to you? What do you need in a truck?