Why GM's New Pickups Should Worry Ford

Are General Motors' (NYSE: GM  ) new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra losers?

A lot of Internet trash talk has been aimed at both full-size pickups since GM unveiled the just-redesigned new models in January. Even my Foolish colleague Daniel Miller has been skeptical, saying that the Silverado "looks to disappoint" when the all-new models hit dealers later this spring.

But I think it's unlikely that the trucks will "disappoint." In fact, I think there's a good chance they'll turn out to be great trucks once folks get a chance to drive them.

Here's why.

More improvements than meet the eye
Most observers are keying off the new trucks' looks -- they bear a strong family resemblance to the outgoing versions they're replacing. (The silver truck is a 2013 Silverado LTZ, and the red one is the all-new 2014 version.)

Image sources: General Motors.

But there appear to be a whole lot of subtle improvements baked into the new truck. GM certainly hasn't been shy about saying so: The company called a press conference last week to tout its new haulers, pointing out, among other things, that a Silverado with GM's new 5.3 liter V8 got slightly better EPA mileage ratings than Ford's (NYSE: F  ) much-advertised "EcoBoost" V6 truck.

That sounds like a trivial thing, but a lot of full-size pickup buyers would rather have the V8, all things being equal -- even if it's a V8 that runs on just four cylinders much of the time to save gas, as GM's new engine will.

GM has been touting a slew of other upgrades, from the new truck's impressive towing capacity to an upgraded interior. But all automakers do that when they launch new models. Why should we take GM's word for it?

Here's why: Because after years of up and down quality, the company's latest models have been very good.

Why a Cadillac bodes well for GM's pickups
In any given month, GM might sell 50,000 pickups or more here in the United States. The combination of high volume and big margins mean that pickups are Ford's most important single line of business -- and they just might be GM's, too.

In contrast, GM sold just 15,751 Cadillacs in the U.S. in March -- but in its own way, GM's ongoing effort to revive Cadillac is nearly as important to GM's long-range profit goals as its bread-and-butter pickup trucks are.

Why am I bringing up Cadillac? Because GM's latest Cadillacs have been home runs. The ATS, a compact sedan launched last year, has turned out to be a genuine, legit competitor to the BMW 3-Series, one of the best-regarded cars in the world.

The ATS, simply put, is really good, proof that GM is doing great vehicles nowadays. Its big brother, the CTS, was just unveiled in New York, and it looks like another home run, a car that will challenge BMW's 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz's E-Class head-on.

GM isn't messing around anymore
I could pick other examples. The Chevy Cruze is GM's best-ever compact car. The Impala is a giant upgrade over its predecessor. The new Buicks are very strong entries. GM's midsized crossovers are racking up big sales.

But here's the takeaway: GM's latest designs are miles beyond what we were seeing from this company even a few years ago. These folks aren't messing around anymore.

And that's why I'm willing to bet -- heck, as a GM shareholder, I have bet -- that these new pickups are going to be really good, as well as a fierce rival for Ford's F-Series. Wait and see.

Worried about GM?
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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 10:11 AM, scooter56 wrote:

    The Chey is ugly , so I bought a Ford..

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 10:53 AM, adcom1966 wrote:

    The fact the story has to point out which truck is the new model says it all.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 10:55 AM, goonamana wrote:

    Our government gave GM a $50 billion bailout, so now our government is GM’s largest shareholder. GM took our money and now under the ownership of our government, they took 70% of their production overseas. Meanwhile American’s only get 30% of the production of a company owned by their own government. Search the Internet “GM CEO Speech in China video."

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 11:12 AM, corvettesam wrote:

    Maybe with all of GM's great success they can now take care of their salaried employees like they did their UAW members, If the President will let them.

    The governemnt threw the past Delphi Salary and GM Salary under the bus to revive GM and forgot about them.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 11:13 AM, corvettesam wrote:

    I now buy Fords, they are better built and look better also. They get from me what they gave to me.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 11:14 AM, KonaGolden wrote:

    GM is in trouble. Pickups are a significant part of GM's profit margin. They beat Ford to market with the "new" Silverado, but Ford upstaged them with the Atlas. The buzz is about the Ford, a truck that doesn't even exist yet.

    Ford gained the upper hand with theEcoBoost engines. GM is not leading, they're following. They won't be able to continue selling V-8's that shut off cylinders to gain mileage....what's next? Running on 1 cylinder? Smaller engines with pressurization is the future. Look at Formula 1....no more 2.4 liter V-8's after this year....1.6 liter Turbo's....

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 11:17 AM, farmertull wrote:

    The continual chanting of the F-150 being the highest selling pickup is silly. I do not know why the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra numbers are not combined. If they were they would surpass the F-150 by a large margin. They are the same pickup

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 11:23 AM, jmwaco wrote:

    I have owned a Gm truck since I started driving, until the bail out. No longer will I buy a Government Motors vehicle. Ford trucks are superior anyway.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 11:31 AM, star12tin wrote:

    ok guysas far as I am concerned GM messed in their mess kit by selling out to china-

    How many of you know that china holds the biggest piece of GM now?? and that most of the new GM autos, especially Chevrolet, are made in china. Don't take my word for i,t check it out. Guess how many jobs that took out of the US and moved to China?!!

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 11:33 AM, taxpayingfool wrote:

    The reason you can not tell the difference between a13 and a14 is because GM is a china company now. History has shown us that china steals technology and design, they make it cheap and inferior rewrap it and send it back to us. It was bad enough in the past that Americans bought this crap but now are ineptly business minded president has rewarded them with tax payer money. GM is now just a division of china auto.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 11:41 AM, jimbo6928 wrote:

    GM are sellouts, FORD ALL THE WAY. theres a reason they are the number one in truck sales for 36 years in a row!

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 12:35 PM, dtpman wrote:

    fords next generation is going to super light weight and put GM back in their rightful place. Watch the headlines this fall when the new F150 takes the stage.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 12:51 PM, setsunauchiha wrote:

    GM trucks and cars are far better than anything Ford has ever put out. I've seen more poorly built piece of crap ford products in my career as a technician than GM.

    Also guys do some research! GM paid back the loan. Ford however took out two loans, one before the bail out and one at the same time! And Ford is the only one who has yet to pay it back. Also all three big domestic car manufacturers sell there products over seas to places like China. GM is not the only one who has a factory over there. In fact Ford has been paying Mazda of Japan since the 1960's to design things such as chassis for new vehicles and transmissions. The 5 Speed manual transmission M5OD is a Mazda transmission used in many Ford vehicles.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 1:09 PM, kcoach wrote:

    The only way GM could become a threat is to make a truck like the Ford Ranger. Ford stopped production of a marginal, if profitable, line. People are downsizing since the "financial collapse" and the increases in gas prices. The F Ranger was very practical and reliable like the '85 Toyota small trucks were. If you are selling your entire production line well before the Spring new car line-up, isn't that a good thing for Ford? And, while 300,000 units is not a huge volume for Ford, it paid the bills and provided for a niche market that could expand, depending on the economy. Ford going for huge and unnecessary trucks....well, dumb.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 1:09 PM, CVRancher wrote:

    Todays chevy is not the same vehicle it use to be.

    Today GM corprete leaders are utilizing manufacturing plants all over the world. With plants in places like Taiwan which are manufacturing such items as hubs, electric motors for heaters and many other products which are used in the manufacturing of their product/s

    The sad part about it is while GM tries every way to save money here and their, they exploit those countries and their people by providing cheap labor production plants and also cut more corners by formulating steel which is sub rated and does not hold up the the wear and tear which GM users want in their GM product. Example, look at replacement hubs for any GM product and compair them to hubs from vehicles made pryor to the 90's.

    The new hubs are made of a lighter material and have to be replaced sooner than the old cast iron hubs. The new hubs are brite shinny steel and dont rust as fast as the old heavy cast steel.

    The old cast steel components are still in use today whjile the new manufactured hubs are like, you will be lucky if you get 20k on them before they begin to make noise. The same applies to other manufactured parts.

    As a 40 year auto tech and 40 year experienced tower, I have seen over the last 20 years more GM made cars and PU's being towed for these simple reasons.

    I have not seen GM go down in their prices of new vehicle but have see each GM dealership which sells chevy, pontiac, cads, and all other GM made products resort to offering what they call extended warrentee programs on their products.

    When I'm out shopping for a new vehicle and the dealership starts to offer me one of those warrentees, I think of only one thing, the product which they are selling is an over priced piece of junk which the manufacture is trying to push on the public.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 1:10 PM, cityperson wrote:

    The big maintenance problem I see with the new Chevy to increase mileage, is the eight speed auto transmission. then again the mileage will be told as true mileage, is when hauling and towing weight is added. Nothing in the stories written in the past week on the Ford or Chevy have mentioned the towing and mileage or on any of the other larger

    trucks.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 1:17 PM, freedomweekly wrote:

    I wonder how long it will take our inept President to claim "victory" on the recent successes of GM (less the fact they owe me and you billions of dollars and the UAW was given ownership while Delphi salaried employees had their funded pensions stolen from them...)?

    As we know, the product life cycle of a new vehicle starts 5-6 yrs prior to a product release.

    I find it ironic that the cars that have given GM its most recent successes (Buicks, Camaro, CTS, ATS...) were green lighted by the person Mr. Obama FIRED after he seized GMs assets: Richard Wagoneer.

    Meanwhile, the person responsible for losing nearly half if membership at the UAW under his watch - Ron Gettelfinger - was allowed to keep his job.

    I find that ironic.

    Yes, we have only GM vehicles in our family.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 1:23 PM, wellfeed wrote:

    There are so many Ford products recalled, the low quality ratings,and the fact the turbochargers are expensive to replace, mean that Chevrolet and Dodge are going to cut into Ford sales. It could be worse, Toyota is not offering any incentives on their top selling small truck.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 1:52 PM, TMFTwoCoins wrote:

    @setsunauchiha

    You're actually incorrect. Ford did take a loan out in 2006, but it has entirely paid off every cent. It received investment grade by analysts afterwards, and gained back its blue oval logo that was put up as brand collateral for the 18+ billion in loans.

    Also, that loan was much different. It wasn't taxpayer dollars from the TARP fund as GM's was. It was strictly a large loan it took out on Ford's own behalf and paid back with interest.

    I could go on and on, but that should be enough to make the point.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 2:34 PM, autopal wrote:

    On April 07, 2013, at 11:17 AM, farmertull wrote:

    The continual chanting of the F-150 being the highest selling pickup is silly. I do not know why the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra numbers are not combined. If they were they would surpass the F-150 by a large margin. They are the same pickup

    farmertull, u are incorrect, and it would help if you do some research before you make these silly statements. The Ford F series is the number 1 selling truck for over 36 years, and it outsells the Silverado, Sierra and Avalanche combined.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 3:06 PM, smokeoiltom wrote:

    gm trucks have had the same body style since 1973.they never change them.there still just a square box truck with round tires and square fender wells.theres no style too them one looks just like another.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 3:38 PM, JoeMiddleclass wrote:

    Is this a paid for "news" story by Motley Fool to get clients? I have noticed that since the "NEW" yahoo home page has started there are dozens of these "news" stories from Motley Fool which end up promoting their financial advice. SHAME ON YOU YAHOO!!!!

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 4:19 PM, dwduke wrote:

    GM pickups get uglier every time GM redesigns them. Sad. Fords just get better looking. Ford will stay on top as the best pickup built on the planet. Be very concerned about Toyota's pick ups though. Over time Americans will be buying more and more of them since Americans are getting more and more disgruntled with made in America for what ever reason. Sorry, just seeing more and more imports on the road, even in Michigan.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 6:49 PM, Deltadon77 wrote:

    GM and Chevy are doing their R and D with $ provided by proud Ford owners and other citizens who don't do business with a company who rips off the public instead of making a consumer desired vehicle that turns a profit. The Auto Unions are equally in the mix that caused GM to be the pride of American, to the company that could not make it without a BAIL OUT.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 8:42 PM, illinijo wrote:

    John's article seems right on but the v8 that switches to 4 cylinders to save fuel has been around for 5 years. i'm not sure what they did for fuel economy besides direct injection. and as far as a square box as someone said, have you seen a ford half ton lately. and dodge is making some great trucks also.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 1:14 AM, italiano3412 wrote:

    Look, I've been a mechanic for 23 years now in the Cleveland, Ohio area. I drive a Chevy and a Chevy pickup was my first car at 16. I've had plenty of friends who drive Fords. I respect the Ford company totally they do make great American product. First off the pickup truck was invented in the United States and that's where it's going to stay. These kids comparing trucks with Toyota and Nissan are pure morons. The F-150 only became popular due to the fact that they were the first company to mass produce pickup trucks. Now anybody who knows anything about trucks knows that Ford and Chevy are neck and neck and always will be in the truck market with Dodge/Ram has lagged. Chevy did slip in the 90's/early 2000's and allowed Ford to gain. Being that I literally work on both of these trucks every single day for my job and see everything from someone who uses a truck for their livelihood to these "urban cowboys" who want a truck to drive the newer Chevy's are the way to go. What they did with the new body trucks was great but after reading everything and watching the unveil of the 2014 Silverado, what they have put into it, they have fixed every bug that was left in the last model and then decided to add to it for the same price as the last model. You get more for the same price. They're setting the stage to beat out Ford truck sales. I'm not talking blow Ford out of the water but they will take a lead and Ford will have to change their truck market. It will be something of a muscle car race that everybody saw from the American car makers in the 70's. Honestly it should be great and very interesting to see the innovation the two companies put into the always dependable pickup. The Chevrolet company is totally revamped and is setting the stage for great success. Louis Chevrolet should be proud of how his age old company is being run now. If you look at that name or ever wondered where the name "Chevrolet" came from then clearly this article is way over your head and you need to do your homework before you enter a truck market. If you truly understand a pickup truck, understand the market and understand what your daily needs of your truck, Chevy has an option for your needs that will be reliable and useful. I will gladly answer any questions as to what these new models bring and how they cater to everybody and I will gladly state my case as to how and why the 2014 Silverado will meet and then exceed everybody's expectations.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 1:32 AM, chevyapplegreen wrote:

    Half of these comments are proof that people have no idea what to look for when buying a truck. "They didn't make enough aesthetic changes."...sad, sad, sad.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 7:23 PM, rs02cavi wrote:

    if you look into it Ford includes ALL f-series yes heavy duty 450s and up. if you take just the pickups up to the 350s im sure the chevy and gmc outsell them.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 10:41 PM, thesimpletruth wrote:

    did you guys hear about the new feature on the ford atlas concept? it has a heated tailgate sor when the thing breaks down your hands dont get cold while you push it.

    but seriously sheeple, go talk to your trusted mchanic. he will tell you he sees 5 fords for every chevy, thats what my mechanic told me.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2013, at 11:27 AM, GMnumber1forever wrote:

    Lots of ignorance on this board. Get your facts straight before you trash talk.

    GM trucks are the biggest, badest and best trucks on the market. They have the best reliability, unmatched quality and are the only trucks in the world engineered to last 1 million miles without failure.

    Get a clue people.

    http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f12/op-ed-why-gms-new-pic...

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2013, at 1:37 PM, joeg9100 wrote:

    I don't think Ford will be too worried about GM's new trucks. Clearly the new truck from GM is an Incremental change not a game changer. They have fallen behind in truck design in the last frew years. Their current 6 cylinder engine is a 60's technology with fuel injection. Reliable but at 195Hp, sad even for a truck

    Yes the new V8 will get 1MPH better than Ford's 6 but that is on the Highway, the easiest thing to do.

    The article did not say if GM are still using old pushrod technology engines. My guess is maybe yes because of active fuel management. If so puts them 2 generations behind Ford and Toyoda. Even Dodge has a high tech. 6 cylinder.

    I noticed that he did not mention the Chevy Malibu in his praise for GMs car line up. Here is an example of a GM type redesign that was to surpass others in it's class instead it is dead last in it's class. Sales are brisk but only to rental agencies. What were they thinking?

    I don't think these trucks will fare like the Malibu but they won't worry Ford ot Toyoda either. After all GM trucks have a loyal following. But in the long run this truck won't carry GM for long.

    GM may be better than older GM but the old GM was so bad anything would been an improvement. There is a reason they went bankrupt.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2013, at 7:26 PM, Jason87467 wrote:

    GM builds many world class vehicles and I own two of them. A new Chevy Cruze and Corvette. Nothing out there that can beat these two cars in there class!

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