Tim Herrick is not a stranger to “Autoline After Hours,” as the last time he was on the show was a couple years ago, when he was the chief engineer for GM Full Size Trucks, which means vehicles like the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra.
Tim Herrick and a GMC Sierra HD, back when he was Full Size Truck chief at GM. Now he runs global products.
And now he’s the vice president, Global Product Programs, for GM. Which essentially means that Herrick is in charge of all products that aren’t part of the electric vehicle portfolio. Given the importance of things like trucks—and utilities—to GM, evidentially Herrick’s know-how in that space is quite important to the organization.
When we talked with him the last time it was focused on the Chevy Silverado which, along with its sibling the GMC Sierra, had been totally reengineered for model year 2019.
The 2021 Chevy Suburban. (Images: GM)
This time a large part of the discussion, which includes “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Stephanie Brinley, auto analyst at IHS Markit, and me, is about the all-new full-size sport utilities that General Motors is rolling out from its plant in Arlington, Texas (and Herrick gives a robust shout out to the women and men there who have not only had to contend with the startup issues that vex any all-new launch but had to do so in the teeth of a global pandemic), the Chevrolet Silverado and Tahoe and the GMC Yukon. (There is a Cadillac Escalade coming, too, but that wasn’t part of the discussion.)
Inside the GM Arlington Assembly plant where the full-size utilities are built.
To get a sense of the importance of these vehicles to the corporation, realize that they own about 40% of the overall segment. And given how these vehicles have grown (e.g., the wheelbase of the 2021 Tahoe is 120.9 inches, a 4.9-inch increase over the fourth-generation model; its overall length is 210.7 inches, a 6.7-inch rise) and been accessorized with everything from embroidered seats to 12.6-inch screens for the second-row passengers, these vehicles come with non-trivial sticker prices, which translate into solid profit margins for the company.
McElroy, Brinley and I have all had the chance to be behind the wheel of one or more of these 2021 models, so as we talk with Herrick it is from the position of having had a first-hand sense of the performance and amenities that are packaged into the utilities.
Screen for the second-row passengers in a Tahoe.
Herrick talks about everything from the suspension (there is a combination air/magnetic suspension system available, and the use of an independent rear suspension greatly increases interior capacity) to the powertrain (three choices: 5.3-liter V8, 6.2-liter V8 and a 3.0-liter I6, all mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission).
He talks about how the vehicles were developed, including getting ideas from people who have full-size utes in their garages.
Lucid, Nikola & More
In addition to which Brinley, McElroy and I discuss a variety of other subjects including the Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept, the Lucid Air electric vehicle, the strategic agreement between GM and Honda in North America, the strategic partnership announced by GM and Nikola, the future of auto shows, the giant aluminum injection molding machine that Tesla is going to install in the plant it is building in Germany, and possibly even more.
And you can see this edition of “Autoline After Hours”.
Plenty of interior components are injection molded. But some companies—such as VW—are using a process for trim pieces that both mold a component and cover it in fabric in a single molding process. And it is coming to the U.S. in the not-too-distant future.
Design, materials, powertrain and manufacturing details about what is arguably the quintessential vehicle in the Jeep lineup.
While you are probably familiar with origami, the classic art of paper folding that results in things like birds that flap their wings when you pull the tail, or plot devices in one of the Blade Runner films.