GM Hopes Increased Fuel Economy Will Save Chevy Silverado Sales

Photo: Bill Pugliano (Getty)
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The Chevy Silverado hopes for a boost in sales by stealing the fuel economy crown from the Ford F-150, Renault-Nissan and the FCA just might still partner up, and Daimler is back at it again with the emissions problems. All this and more in The Morning Shift for Monday, June 24, 2019.

1st: Gas Guzzlin’ No More

The Chevy Silverado hasn’t been doing so hot. Sales have been dipping because the truck just isn’t super appealing when compared with some of its direct competition (we’re looking at you, F-150). But don’t worry! GM has a plan.

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It’s going to make the Silverado way more fuel efficient than the Ford F-150, the first truck with an EPA-certified 30 mpg in highway driving.

Here’s more from Automotive News:

As GM awaits EPA certification of its new 3.0-liter inline-six Duramax diesel engine, Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer of GM’s full-size trucks, last week said internal testing has the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado achieving 30-40 mpg at speeds of 50-65 mph.

The automaker released the results — collected from testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — last week after FCA announced a redesigned EcoDiesel V-6 engine that it said would probably lead the segment in fuel economy and offer segment-leading torque of 480 pound-feet.

The internal results are based on a controlled environment but give a glimpse at the potential of GM’s new engine to achieve more than 30 mpg highway — a feat once considered a moonshot for a pickup.[...]During media testing last week of the diesel-equipped Silverado, many drivers achieved more than 40 mpg on a roughly 15-mile loop when challenged to maximize their fuel economy. Others reported around 30 mpg.

Will good fuel mileage be enough to save the Silverado from playing a perpetual second-fiddle to the F-150? GM certainly think it’s going to help.

2nd: FCA-Renault Merger Maybe Possibly Still Happening? Again?

Great news, everyone: executives at Fiat Chrysler and Renault-Nissan aren’t opposed to merging. But, yes—both companies aren’t totally jazzed about all the potential conditions that they’re going to try imposing on each other, Automotive News reports.

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This week, Renault and Nissan will be hosting a shareholder meeting to determine the fate of that relationship—and sources familiar with the situation are pretty optimistic that things are going to end up in such a way that an FCA-Renault-Nissan merger could emerge as a result:

The merger discussions with FCA ended abruptly after the French government, Renault’s most powerful shareholder, sought a delay to gain the explicit assent of Nissan. FCA blamed “political conditions in France’’ when it withdrew its proposal, and a signal from the French state that it would give up its sway over Renault would be necessary for a resumption of talks, people with knowledge of the situation have said.

For Renault and the state, repairing the relationship with Nissan will take priority over a FCA deal, officials have said. France in particular views securing the Japanese automaker’s explicit backing as crucial for the success of an FCA-Renault combination.

Despite the finger-pointing that followed the failed talks, Renault, FCA and France have left the door open for a possible deal as they brace for the costly changes sweeping the industry, such as developing electric and autonomous vehicles.

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Things are possibly looking a little more promising this time around, leading to speculation that the FCA and Renault-Nissan could soon join forces to create the third largest automaker in the world.

3rd: Emission Scandal, Round Two

Just when you thought that maybe—maybe—we had all learned from our emissions screw-ups, Daimler is bringing it back once again, Reuters reports.

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Yep. It’s 2015 again. Daimler just sliced back its 2019 earnings outlook because it is once again embroiled in some emissions issues. That’s not to say it’s expecting huge cutbacks—essentially, Daimler had been expecting to turn an increase in profits as compared to last year. Now, it’s predicting a profit about similar to last year’s.

Here’s more from Reuters about why this whole thing is going down:

Daimler must recall 60,000 Mercedes diesel cars in Germany after regulators found that they were fitted with software aimed at distorting emissions tests, the Transportation Ministry said on Saturday.

The model affected is the Mercedes-Benz GLK 220 produced between 2012 and 2015.

Daimler confirmed that the recall was ordered on Friday but said that it would appeal against the decision while continuing to cooperate with regulators.

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Daimler has been one of the automakers recently pushing into the EV market in hopes to avoid this kind of debacle all over again. Unfortunately, there ain’t much anyone can do for you if you’re still implementing technology designed to fool emissions tests.

4th: VW Expects a Smooth Ride to Get Its EV Batteries

Both Audi and Hyundai have run into a very expected problem as they both explore the benefits of EV technology. There just aren’t enough batteries to go around. Audi and Hyundai have experienced a bottleneck, meaning that they want to produce more EVs than they can actually, y’know, power because there aren’t enough batteries yet.

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That’s why Tesla is building those huge battery factories, after all.

Volkswagen, though? They don’t plan to have a single problem when it comes to having all the batteries they could ask for. More from Automotive News Europe:

By 2021, VW Group plans to build 330,000 electric vehicles a year for its VW, Audi and Seat brands at its plant in Zwickau, Germany.

“I can confirm that for the first years of our plan, a sufficient supply of cells has been contractually secured,” said Thomas Ulbrich, VW brand management board member in charge of electric mobility, adding this was the case until 2023.

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So, what is it that makes VW so damn special? It’s partnered with all sorts of companies—LG Chem, Samsung, SK Innovation, and Contemporary Amperex Technology—to supply its batteries, which increases the likelihood that VW will have a pretty constant stream of quickly developed and functional batteries.

However, there are still some, uh, problems:

VW is making changes to its battery-purchasing plan over concerns that supply deal with Samsung, might unravel, Bloomberg reported in May. VW could now only source fewer than 5 gigawatt hours of cells from Samsung SDI rather than the 20 GWh initially planned, sources told Bloomberg.

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That is not particularly ideal, considering the fact that automakers pretty much need all the help they can get when it comes to getting their shit together to get EVs on the road. We’ll just have to wait and see if VW’s high hopes actually do come to fruition.

5th: We’re Digging Into Ghosn’s Finances Again

Ah, Carlos Ghosn. Requisite example of everything you definitely should not do when it comes to the whole “heading a big important business” thing! The French fiscal administration is launching a probe to dig into his amassed wealth because they’re, well, still pretty suspicious.

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From Reuters:

Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, is facing financial misconduct charges, which he denies. He was freed in April from jail in Japan on $4.5 million bail.

Suspect expenses Ghosn made when he chaired automakers Renault and Nissan amounted to about 11 million euros, Renault’s board said in a statement on June 4.

A notification on the investigation was sent to Ghosn and his wife, the daily reported. Francois Zimeray, one of the lawyers for Ghosn, said he had not been informed.

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Reverse: ALIENS

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Neutral: Is Good Fuel Economy Enough?

I’m no truck fiend, so I can’t speak for the motivations that come into play when one invests in a big pickup, unless it’s for work. Will good fuel economy be enough to raise the Chevy Silverado from its own ashes? Or is it going to take a hell of a lot more work on GM’s part to boost sales?

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About the author

Elizabeth Blackstock

Staff writer. Motorsport fanatic. Proud owner of a 2013 Mazda 2.