GENERAL Motors previewed a three-year rollout process for the new C/K Series truck during a chassis seminar conducted in conjunction with the NTEA convention.
The new Chevrolet and GMC full-size trucks will go into production this summer and will appear on dealer lots this fall. The half- and three-quarter-ton models will lead the rollout this year as 1999 models with additional versions of the new design scheduled for introduction in 2000 and 2001.
The Suburban and the company's two- and four-door sport utility vehicles will get the new sheet metal next year. The one-ton pickup and chassis cab will retain the current body style until the 2001 model year.
The most immediate issue regarding the installation of truck bodies and equipment on the new trucks involves pickup box removal. Because of the high cost of prototype vehicles (as much as $500,000 each), GM is waiting until the start of production to perform the barrier crash testing required to develop a pickup box removal program. GM hopes to have a pickup box removal program in place in December, according to Steve Strine, GM vehicle engineer.
As was the case the last time a new C/K Series was introduced, GM will produce both the new and old body styles. For 1999, the new style will be offered at 8,600 pounds GVWR and below. Trucks with the old style will be produced at 8,600 pounds GVWR and above.
A change in the model designation will indicate whether the truck has the old or new body style, Strine explained. For example, the model designation for the current body style with an eight-foot box is 10903. Under the new program, it will be a 15903. The second digit indicates that it is the new body style.
Compared with its current C/K counterpart, the new truck is three inches longer overall, has a 1.5" longer wheelbase, and is .75" higher. GM also made some changes to the front of the vehicle that will distinguish Chevrolet trucks from their GMC counterparts. The difference may affect installation of equipment on the front of the new truck, according to Mike Soich with Chevrolet's Commercial/Special Vehicle Group.
"You really should take note of this, because the dimensions will be different," Soich said. "The body builders books will point out the differences."
The new truck will have a new frame, one that is longer and wider than its predecessor. GM fabricates the frame using the same hydroform technique that is used on the Corvette. The process provides better dimensional control, resulting in improved suspension alignment. The frame is 23% stiffer, yet lighter than the current frame.
"This means greater payload ratings within the same GVW ranges," Soich said. He showed one truck model where the tare weight was reduced from 4,346 to 4,058 pounds. Payload ratings increased from 1,623 to 1,918 pounds.
The new C/K Series will be equipped with four-wheel disc brakes. "This will double the lining life and shorten stopping distance," Soich said. "A new controller will reduce the number of ABS activations, improving stopping distance."
Power Provisions The electrical system will include a bused electrical-center architecture that will offer more accommodations for truck equipment electrical applications. A 130-amp alternator will be offered with the snowplow package, providing a 25% increase in power output while idling. An optional second battery will be offered for all gasoline engines, except in California.
The instrument panel will include a monitor that tracks 19 functions, including transmission temperature, engine oil levels, coolant levels, low fuel, and a reminder lamp that comes on when the oil needs to be changed.
The optional trailer package provides a mounting bracket and fused connector beneath the dash for the brake controller and a sealed seven-pin harness connector at the rear.
The new Vortec engines have dual-belt accessory drives that provide limp-home capability. The overall length of the engine changes. "Those who work on our engines should make note of this," Soich said.
Capacity of the fuel tanks will be carryover-26 gallons for the short pickup box and 34 gallons for the long pickup box.
Body Builder Issues Strine provided an update on several issues related to the installation of truck bodies and equipment on Chevrolet and GMC trucks. Included in his list:
Body builders books. Mailing of 1998 light-duty body builders books was completed March 5, 1998. GM's medium-duty body builders book was carried over through February 23, 1998. GM will publish a 1998 interim and 1999 medium-duty body builders book that will cover emissions and ABS requirements for air-brake chassis.
Snowplow prep package for most 1999 GM trucks will be carried over from 1998. However, a similar package for trucks with the new body style may be delayed slightly as engineers conduct tests.
G van production will begin May 18, approximately six weeks earlier than normal.
Production of 1999 model 3500HD has moved to Flint, Michigan assembly plant.
Transmission enhancements have been made to 1999 model 4L60E and 4L80E automatic transmissions.
Engine improvements to 1999 6.5-liter turbodiesel include elimination of the catalytic converter and accessory drive as well as throttle kick-down on C/K, G, and P models. Preset RPM settings of 1,070, 1,350, and 1,600 will carry over. Internal improvements also have been made.
A C/K crew cab with a short pickup box will be new in 1999-even though it will use the current sheetmetal. It will be available in the 20 Series as a single-rear-wheel model rated at 8,600 pounds GVW and as a 30 Series with a 9,400-pound GVWR.
Rear fuel tank delete. Distributors now have the option to delete the rear fuel tank on chassis cab models C/K 31003, 31403, and C31803.
Medium-Duty Changes Strine also addressed changes and updates to GM's medium-duty line including C, T, and W series trucks as follows:
Clutch-starter interlock. 1998 model C and T series receive clutch-starter interlock, which requires clutch to be depressed before starter will engage.
Engine lineup. 1998 and 1999 C and T models available with Caterpillar 3126B engine rated between 175 and 300 hp with torque ratings ranging from 420 ft/lb to 860 ft/lb. Current gasoline engine in C and T series will be replaced with Vortec 7400 medium-duty, which is available in 210 hp and 270 hp versions.
Vortec 7400 engine will utilize electronic throttle control, allowing vehicle speed control, power management, engine speed governing, road speed governing, and its ability to accommodate power take-offs.
Transmission availability. 1999 C and T models will have three Fuller transmission options in six, nine, and 10 speed configurations.
Production dates. Production of the 1998 gasoline-powered W3500 and W4500 series trucks began in December of 1997. The W series trucks benefit from daytime running lamps as well as a higher GVWR to 14,050 pounds.
Production of 1999 diesel-powered model W3500 and W4500 series trucks began in early January 1998 with availability in late February 1998. The 1999 model W series trucks are powered by Isuzu in Japan. They are powered by direct-injection, four-cylinder engines rated at 142 and 175 hp.
Diesel-powered model W5500 production began in late February 1998. Changes to the W5500 include wheelbase options of 109, 132, 150, and 176 inches as well as a 16,500-lb GVWR. A 175-hp, four-cylinder, Isuzu-direct injection engine mated to a four speed Aisin automatic transmission also powers the W5500.