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Jalopnik: Bare Necessity Truck Concept Helps GM Forget Worries And Strife [Concept Cars]

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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.

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?

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A concept worthy of production. GM keep ideas like these coming.

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They talk about the truck having "only what you need", but the only thing I see that has been reduced is the length. It's actually a far more complex truck, with hybrid powertrain and the reversible bulkhead. Interesting, but I would be afraid of issues with that bulkhead design, and would have to be sold on towing capacity, etc. A truck isn't terribly appealing to me if it can't do truck work, or if it's so fancy & expensive that I have to be very careful with it because one mistake would cost me a fortune to repair.

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Here's what I want to know...GM already has a midgate. Is a "reversible bulkhead" as practical as a midgate? Somehow I don't think so. Towing capacity?

I mean, great, if they can pull it off...but I'm a skeptic until I see it actually happen: a practical truck that can tow and carry cargo while getting 40+ mpg.

How would weather-proofing and sound-proofing be with that reversible bulkhead?

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The Lab Webchat: WB - first of all, at this point these are just IDEAS - pre-engineering study concepts. That said, we are targeting towing capacity to be the same as current small and mid-size trucks. Regarding reversible bulkhead, the sealing plane is very simple, similar to a trunk on a car.

TT - If we continue to move toward production on this truck, we would need to keep working out these details.

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Here's what I want to know...GM already has a midgate. Is a "reversible bulkhead" as practical as a midgate? Somehow I don't think so. Towing capacity?

I mean, great, if they can pull it off...but I'm a skeptic until I see it actually happen: a practical truck that can tow and carry cargo while getting 40+ mpg.

How would weather-proofing and sound-proofing be with that reversible bulkhead?

Midgate vs reversible bulkhead (as I see it):

Midgate:

+ already developed

+ seals are in relatively protected areas, thus have an easier job/less likely to leak

+ probably easier to make lightweight, especially while maintaining a quiet cabin

- cabin is open when midgate is down

Reversible bulkhead:

+ Cabin is closed when bed is extended into cabin area

+ Cool factor?

+ Extended bed is open top, allowing for taller items

- Issues with transferring dust & dirt, keeping the cabin clean will mean thoroughly cleaning the forward part of the bed before flipping it around for more passenger room

- Seals right through the middle of the roof, could be very prone to leaks and/or damage

- Likely to require more complex, heavier mechanism

Overall, I think I prefer a traditional truck design, and I think they could make the truck MUCH lighter without any kind of midgate/R.bulkhead/whatever.

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I'm well aware these are just ideas...but I really want to know just how practical GM is being here. As far as sealing, no, it can't be like a trunk because trunks don't flip 180 degrees.

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Midgate vs reversible bulkhead (as I see it):

Midgate:

+ already developed

+ seals are in relatively protected areas, thus have an easier job/less likely to leak

+ probably easier to make lightweight, especially while maintaining a quiet cabin

- cabin is open when midgate is down

Reversible bulkhead:

+ Cabin is closed when bed is extended into cabin area

+ Cool factor?

+ Extended bed is open top, allowing for taller items

- Issues with transferring dust & dirt, keeping the cabin clean will mean thoroughly cleaning the forward part of the bed before flipping it around for more passenger room

- Seals right through the middle of the roof, could be very prone to leaks and/or damage

- Likely to require more complex, heavier mechanism

Overall, I think I prefer a traditional truck design, and I think they could make the truck MUCH lighter without any kind of midgate/R.bulkhead/whatever.

I'd say increased use of aluminum and carbon fiber would be a great start. I wouldn't even be opposed to unibody construction if GM could overcome the toll on towing capacity--THAT'S an engineering issue worth attempting to solve.

I really don't have a problem if the lighter materials mean higher prices for trucks--that'll ensure only people who need them buy them, and frankly those kinds of vehicles already have massive work-related tax subsidies, so the professionals won't really be out anything more.

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Carbon fiber would be great, but the problem with CF is that it's still very expensive to make. I think there are some Japanese companies working on developing new ways to make CF and lower the cost...which would be great.

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Cool! I like the reversable bulkhead idea. I currently have a Avalanche and it would be nice to have the longer box while leaving the cabin closed off. However one way I think the Avalanche could be improved is to have a split midgate so that you could put down one rear seat half and that portion of the midgate, have your extra length while still seating an extra person in the back. I could have used a setup like this many times.

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That bulkhead is a really cool idea, although I'm sure the Midgate may be more palatable financially in the the end. I'm happy that GM is continuing to heavily innovate on their trucks.

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Filed under: Truck, Videos, Hatchback, GM, Alternative Fuel

b-n-truck-lead-1250008331.jpg b-n-car-lead.jpg
GM Bare Necessities Truck | GM Bare Necessities Car - Click above for high-res image gallery

General Motors says that it's learned a lot since the Chevy Volt concept was introduced a few years back. Paramount among these new revelations is that not all green vehicles are created equally, and not all customers looking for an eco-friendly ride really want the same thing. Some may want a full-fledged automobile with all the trimmings that just happens to get great fuel mileage while some more hardcore greenies may be willing to give up the finer things in life in exchange for the ultimate in efficiency.

With that in mind, GM created a new Eco Initiative Project with the goal of understanding what eco-minded consumers really want. The first two designs - the Bare Necessities Truck and the Bare Necessities Car - look to strip the automobile down to just its essential bits, i.e. the bare necessities. Your feedback is requested. What do you think about these two concepts?

We'll throw a vote in for the Bare Necessities Truck, which takes the idea behind the Chevy Avalanche and reduces it down to a smaller, more efficient package. Make it fuel efficient (turbodiesel please) and we think GM may have a winner on its hands. Click past the break for a series of videos explaining the Eco Initiative and the two new Bare Necessities concept vehicles.




[source: General Motors]

Continue reading Two new GM concepts go back to the Bare Necessities (w/VIDEO)

Two new GM concepts go back to the Bare Necessities (w/VIDEO) originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Aug 2009 12:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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I'm loving that hatchback! It's the most interesting piece of GM news to come out of today. It has a fairly distinct shape, even if it does look like a FIAT 500 and Corsa that shared some time together, and I think it could be the iconic small car that Chevy needs.

I like the "bare necessities" idea, though GM could not have been more reluctant in making it sound sexy. "Making trade-offs" sounds, in the words of Camino, so defeatist. But seriously, a well-engineered, well-designed minimalist car can actually meet the needs of many people who are unsatisfied by the unnecessarily complex, overweight modern car. Some people don't want to spend such a large percentage of their income on transportation, even well before this economic period. A cleverly designed small car can also have a democratizing effect, especially on youth who want to travel around the country cheaply.

There's a difference between building a car cheaply and designing a car to be cheap. Think original Mini, Citroen 2CV, Beetle, the VW up! concept, even the Ariel Atom, Lotus Elise, and Model T, not the Aveo or Accent. Cost and efficiency are real challenges for engineers and designers, so this will be a project far more difficult than garnishing a vehicle with an excess of chrome and electronics and diamonds. There needs to be real innovation and investment and a radical rethink of the modern car.

My only concern is that in this concept, I'm not seeing much in the way of clever engineering. I suppose the one-piece glass hatch can save money on stamping costs, while also improving visibility and style. But apart from that, this could very well be just another B-segment hatch on an existing GM platform. (With that said, it would be a very stylish one... something I would consider buying). But where's the out of the box thinking? A true "bare necessity" car can't be constrained by the existing suppliers and materials and architectures of conventional cars. How about a revolutionary structure, an exoskeleton, perhaps? What are some ideas to truly use as few parts as possible?

Ideally for me, such a vehicle would be fun to drive, with a tiny turbo engine powered by cellulosic biofuel, a manual transmission, probably manual steering, and added lightness. It would be cheap to buy, cheap to run, cheap to insure, easy to mend, and beyond that, good looking.

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These concepts are wicked cool, imo, the cars and the trucks. I like the idea of the flip bulkhead, if it can be engineered to a simple, bulletproof end. The BN cars are so much sweeter than the Spark or Viva or whatever... if there were time to do it, I'd scrap the production car the Beat became and produce either of these two hatchbacks instead. These are cause for optimism for us as enthusiasts and longtime GM fans, and, possibly more important, all of these concepts could snatch back some import intenders who are stuck on some media-based perpetuation of what they think GM is.

By definition, these vehicles need to be affordable, it is paramount. Price them too high and ppl will not buy them, an elementary fact.

Edited by ocnblu
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This truck has some good ideas. I would like a pickup getting 40 mpg. Obviously with heavy hauling loads or towing would drop those numbers. I drive a pickup as my daily driver but still need the capabilities of a pickup bed so this would work out great for me. I don't tow but it is nice to have that available. If a person is looking for a pickup with good towing capacity they probably should be looking at a diesel.

My biggest concern would be the reversible bulkhead and sealing. If I had it I might only flip it a time or 2 per year.

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I have to say that I love the hatch also. I like the idea of a modern Geo Metro stressing the modern part. I would go further minimalistic in that it should be a 2 cyl diesel CVT hooked to a manual transmission. 100mpg easy 75 mph and in most states would be licensed as a motorcycle lower the insurance rates lower future fuel taxes and operating cost.

I think this country should embrace a type of licensing and insurance to allow family's to be able to buy a commuter, family & truck type vehicles and pay one price to cover all cars per driver then people would use smaller cars to commute but have the option to drive the family car for outings where the occupant density would be high.

I've read this thought here and cannot give proper credit sorry will edit if reminded TIA

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Oh wow... I really like some of those GMC BN pickup sketches. I'll be keeping my eye on this development :AH-HA_wink:
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Indeed the silver GMC sketch in the earlier post would make an excellent basis for a new Sonoma.

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