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February 05, 2019   |   Reuters


Huge, pricey trucks haul jobs and profits for the Detroit Three

The Detroit Three automakers and thousands of their U.S. workers are counting on customers like McMaster to keep buying bigger and more luxurious pickup trucks even if overall U.S. vehicle demand weakens this year, as most analysts predict.

“Pickup trucks are our bread and butter, and we’ve got the new model to prove it with all the bells and whistles customers want,” Carey “CW” Williams said.

Ford, the leader in the heavy-duty pickup segment, will launch later this year versions of its F-series Super Duty pickups with a 7.3 liter gasoline engine - more than three times the displacement of the power-plant in a typical Ford Fusion sedan.

Fiat Chrysler’s Ram brand is revving up a redesigned lineup of heavy-duty pickups offering optional 12-inch display screens and a 6.7 liter Cummins Inc diesel engine that delivers 1,000 pound-feet of torque - enough to haul a 35,000 pound trailer.

GM’s Silverado and GMC heavy-duty trucks will offer new diesel engines, 10-speed transmissions and trailer-towing capability “well in excess of 30,000 pounds,” said Tim Herrick, the executive chief engineer for GM’s large pickup and SUV programs.

Detroit automakers are investing heavily to expand their profitable heavy pickup franchises beyond commercial and work customers.

In Flint, the assignment to build GM’s new heavy duty trucks is a lifeline for workers like Randy Randall, a 41-year GM veteran who said he has worked at several GM plants, moving when layoffs hit. Now, he checks trucks at the end of the Flint assembly line.

Randall smiled as a screen in front of his GMC truck flashed a message that it had passed the tests. “It’s got a great future,” he said.

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