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  • G. David Felt
    G. David Felt

    2014 GM Fleet & Commercial Road Show

    G. David Felt

    Staff Writer Alternative Energy - CheersandGears.com

    2014 GM Fleet Roll Out

    When I first got my invitation to attend the 2014 GM Fleet roll out I asked myself, besides traditional fleet purchasing and fleet options including the new Crew Cab CNG truck and police Caprice, what could really be worth my time of spending a day at this function? Boy was I glad I went as this is what I call a NEW GM FLEET!

    Let’s start with the fact that GM has reorganized the way they do fleet sales and their approach to fleets. GM is focusing on a being a partner to solve fleet problems and not just an auto supplier. They are taking the approach of “Our Company Success is your success.” Let us offer solutions.

    GM rolled out the following plan for success:

    1. Flexible Product Portfolio
    2. Product Service
    3. Solutions

    GM was proud to announce that starting with the 2014 product portfolio that fleet ordering is no longer tied to the retail solutions packages. Fleet can order with the retail packaging but effective immediately Fleet is A la carte in ordering. GM believes fleet needs an individual approach to building a truck, SUB, Crossover, or car. Examples of this are that power seats are no longer tied to the luxury groups that retail has. Also new for 2014 is a “Power Bench Seat” option. As GM Fleet presenters said, "It has never been easier to custom order your fleet your way!"

    GM has rolled out their new https://www.gmfleettrac.com/ Fleets purchases come with 24K/24 month service. GM’s Fleet Trac allows for consolidated billing, fleet service tracking and GM believes will lead to a lower cost of ownership, less downtime, increased safety, better productivity and increased residual value.

    GM wants to have both Fleet and retail customers see higher residual values after only 2yrs of ownership in their autos.

    They are focused on listening to the fleet customer by having a sounding board. This comes from the GM Commercial Sounding Board or (CSB) http://www.gmfleet.com/contact/commercial-sounding-board.html

    CSB has rolled out the following key objectives:

    1. Capture the voice of the fleet customer
    2. Reach out to gather customer input
    3. Identify strengths and weaknesses in products and processes
    4. Strengthen the business relationship with fleet owners

    The aforementioned items are what came out of the 2012 feedback which identified two key items that GM believes needs to be #1 to the company: Relationships and listening to the customer.

    BUICK & GMC

    The presentation was an eye opener as these two divisions focus on growing their fleet sales by offering purpose built versions of their products that you will not find on the retail floor which ends in higher residual values.

    Buick stated that with the final launch of their new 2014 versions, the oldest auto in the Buick lineup is the Verano which will be only 2 years old. All Buick 2013’s were top IIHS safety picks. Sales for the Buick line were up 22.7% for 2013 through the month of June.

    GMC showed that they were #1 followed by Buick for the JD Powers customer surveys. They were followed by Buick, Cadillac and Chevy. New changes for 2014 include having the trailer brake control on the dash, multiple 110V outlets and USB ports in the cabs in both front and back of the trucks and suv’s. Trucks/suvs will now come standard with 4 – 30 amp up fitter fuses. New for GMC is a Double Cab that will replace the King Cab for easier access and was based on real world work needs as shown by fleet customers. GMC / Chevy trucks also will now have built-in movable tie downs. The new tie downs offer 9 different placements in the bed for ease of access based on the type of load.

    Cadillac

    Cadillac is starting off the 2014 model year where the ATS left off with the all new CTS. CTS will be Longer, lower, lighter and keep it’s perfect 50/50 weight distribution. At 3600lbs, the CTS will be 200lbs lighter than a BMW 5 series. Cadillac saved 250lbs by using doors made of all aluminum rather than steel. Use of high strength aluminum will help to lower weight, increase fuel efficiency and increase the driving performance. The 2014 CTS will come with the new 3.6L TT V6 and 8 speed transmissions. The interior is beautiful as they listened to both fleet and retail customers on what is expected in a sedan of this level to compete against BMW & MB. New power seats that are 20-way adjustable.

    The new CTS will come with 4 driving modes:

    1. Touring – Focused on Fuel Economy
    2. Sport – Performance Driving
    3. Winter – Optimized Traction Control
    4. Track – Aggressive driving mode for TT models and V versions.

    We were teased with an amazing black silhouette of the 2015 Escalade. You could clearly make out more muscular wheel wells and the headlights are an intriguing element. The closest thing I can relate it to is the 2004 SRX rear taillights that are LED, the new standard headlight is an LED vertical line and then in the lower front fascia is an arching L shaped day time running light made up of LED’s.

    Chevrolet

    Chevy introduced us to their new 2014 tag line “Americas” Favorite Car Company”. The focus is as a Value brand where you get more work out of your auto than what you pay for leaving you with an overall experience of satisfaction.

    Chevy has introduced 13 new or redesigned autos for North America and 12 new autos for the worldwide market this year, more than at any other time in Chevy’s history. The Chevy Cargo van has been voted Best Fleet Value 6yrs running. Residual values have gone up 3.4% this year over Ford and resale values at auction are 2-3k more than competition on equal like products.

    Chevy is proud of their new Ecotec 3 V8 Engine lineup of 4.3L, 5.7L and 6.2L engines and the only engines in the industry that will be having the following 3 technologies in an engine.

    1. Variable Valve Lifter (VVL)
    2. Direct Injection
    3. Displacement on Demand, cylinder deactivation

    5.3L is rated at 23mpg in 2wd and 22mpg in 4wd. They said that the Cruze with Diesel has seen considerable orders already from fleets and to expect GM to move their stable of Diesel engines throughout their product lines over the next 18 months. The 2.0L turbo-diesel is expected to average 46MPG across all autos the engine is put into for the 2014 model year.

    At lunch, the GM rep who sat with me said do not be surprised by having a choice of diesel size in the new Canyon/Colorado and full size trucks over the next 18 months as this is one area that was made very clear to GM, they had to have a high mileage, torque diesel in the mid and full-size truck market. As such GM is listening to their fleets and retail customers and is working to bring clean diesel solutions to more products.

    At the 2013 CES, GM won best-in-class Electronic Infotainment system with their new Interface that is being pushed out to update all systems across the globe.

    The Chevy rep did the usual sales pitch of pushing the New 2014 Impala Hybrid as an excellent option for fleets with an average of 35mpg. Trucks were an interesting area that had the following updates: for 2013 Chevy trucks had the highest resale value in the market after 3yrs with a 55.3% residual value. New for the model year on trucks is an updated new box frame that improves Isolating road noise from entering the Cab. 2014 models saw the release of the new Silverado and Sierra 1500 with next year seeing the new 2015 HD models being released along with the full-size SUV’s. City Express will hit the market to fill the small to medium size van market.

    Chevrolet stated that the focus is to reduce weight in all vehicles by a minimum of 10% for next year as that would equal a 6.5% reduction in fuel use.

    The weight reduction is not only focused at Chevy, but all divisions and will be helped by their Electric series of autos such at the VOLT, Cadillac ELR and Spark EV and the LaCrosse with eAssist.

    CNG

    The Model roll out of the 2014 Crew Cab CNG truck was only the beginning with GM focused on an early year release in 2014 of both regular and double cab models of their full-size truck lines being able to be ordered in CNG also. Currently Chevy has the 2014 full size CNG cargo van and next year it gets a full-size passenger CNG van that can hold up to 15 people.

    The engines in the CNG Bi-Fuel trucks and Vans are a hardened 6.0L V8 with auto transition from petrol to CNG and back to petrol. The engines start in Petrol mode and once warm up transition to CNG and then once the CNG tank is empty will move back to petrol. This gives the trucks a estimated range of 650 miles. There have been posted example of people getting up to 900 miles on a road trip with these Bi-Fuel trucks. The tanks are all CNG Type 3 tanks, 17GGE capacity and come with a hardened valve head collar to protect against accidental hitting. Any GM dealership in North American can work on the CNG autos.

    I will have to say that I was actually very impressed with how quiet the CNG truck ran even on the highway. No noise even road noise was really noticeable. The interior did not even have the wind noise which was really surprising. I have to say that GM has taken their 2014 models to a very high level of fit and finish along with using their skills in isolating the road noise from coming inside.

    I found the layout of the dash to be easy to use and the new interface on the infotainment system to be very intuitive and easy to use especially compared to my 2006 Escalade. The Navigation was just plain cool, I wish they could upgrade my system or offer an upgraded unit to be added to my SUV as I really am impressed by the new units. I believe that anyone who played with Version 1.0 of GM Infotainment systems will come away impressed with how GM has listened to the customer and how quick they changed the interface.

    GM Service

    GM has two web sites to help customers. http://www.gmupfitter.com/ is a web site dedicated to fleet needs of add on bodies, snow plow, etc. This is a great site to look at if you need a truck or SUV that is focused on work needs. You will also find some great additional info on their police options and cargo van / service auto options. https://www.gmstc.com/ is a site dedicated to GM’s Service Technical College. Great place to learn about everything GM.

    GM 4yrs running has won the O.T.D. award for on time delivery of factory orders. GM Currently continues to have the shortest delivery time from order to customer receiving of their auto.

    2012 GM had the lowest ever Auto recalls based on total auto’s on the road with only a 2.29% recall rate compared to low to high teens for many other makers especially from the Asian rim. GM was proud to show that they had only 98 defects per 100 cars built in 2012. Industry average was 113 defects per 100 autos built.

    GM Police

    The police Caprice was an amazing fast tight car to drive. They had a 2013 model on hand for people to check out and take through its paces. The shifter on the center console of where other equipment would be located such as a laptop, communication gear etc. was very compact yet I can see why police departments have held off as it did catch on my own pant legs. New for 2014 is GM going back to a column shifter which frees up that space in the center console. I have to say anyone who has driven GM full-size cars of the 80’s or early 90’s will appreciate the room in the Caprice. If you are one wanting a RWD sedan that moves, I could not recommend this car enough as it brings back fond memories of growing up in my family’s Delta 98 and Caprice as a roomy comfy ride.

    The 2014 Fleet roll out ended with a full day of listening to the marketing show of what GM is doing now and what is coming along with an excellent breakfast and lunch and a host of great third party companies who work with GM to offer up fitter solutions. We walked away with an assortment of documentation, a GREENLIGHT collectors ZL1 Camaro model car and 4GB usb thumb drives with various GM product files.

    Questions on anything you have just post away and I will respond.

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