Spy Photography by Chris Doane Automotive; Story by April Fursten
PickupTrucks.com has learned that engineers from GM’s new European partner, Peugeot, have been assigned leading roles in the development of the next full-size Chevrolet pickup truck.
“Many of us aren’t happy about this change,” a veteran Chevrolet truck chassis development engineer said. "They may as well badge the beast as the Silveradeaux," one long-time engineer was overheard saying, but also requested not to be named.
And they might do just that, if the French engineers have their way.
The new pickup development team is operating under the code name Cavelier, as in Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the French explorer considered to be the first European to explore the length of the Mississippi River. In 1682, La Salle named the Mississippi river basin Louisiana to honor his benefactor, King Louis XIV. LaSalle also explored much of the Great Lakes region.
The similar-sounding Cavalier was the name applied to a compact Chevrolet car produced from 1982-2005.
“Don’t worry,” another source within Chevrolet said. “There’s no relationship between that Cavalier and this truck. Well, except for part of the powertrain.”
Peugeot brings its advanced diesel-engine technology to the new Chevrolet full-size pickup. Three years ago, the French automaker won the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race with a 908 prototype powered by a 5.5-liter, 12-cylinder diesel engine that provided 730 horsepower and nearly 900 pounds-feet of torque. However, that engine will not be adapted to the Chevrolet pickup project.
Instead, the basic Silverado/Silveradeaux will be equipped with Peugeot’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder diesel to power the pickup’s front wheels. For buyers who need the grunt of four-wheel drive, a second 1.4-liter diesel also will be mounted within the engine bay, but with a driveshaft to the rear wheels.
With a single engine and front-wheel drive, engineers believe the new Chevrolet pickup will be rated as high as 38 mpg in city driving while providing 800 pounds of cargo capacity and 1,200 pounds of towing capacity, both records for French-engineered vehicles.
When equipped with the second engine, fuel economy may drop to around 27 mpg, but cargo and towing capacities would increase by as much as 45 percent.