The Detroit News
December 12, 2012
When General Motors Co.'s all-new 2014 Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras roll into showrooms next year, pickup buyers will find higher-quality cabin materials, bigger control knobs that will be usable with work gloves, increased connectivity with smartphones and other electronic devices, more storage — and a truck interior that stays truck.
The automaker showed truck owners several interior sketches, some of which had hints of automobile or luxury interiors. But buyers didn't want that, Emsley said. Truck buyers today differ from 10 years ago when many purchased them for both business and family use.
"They want it to look like a truck. They want it to feel like a truck. They want it to handle like a truck, and the interior especially," she said.
GM seemed to have winning interior sketch about three years ago after 100-150 GM and non-GM truck owners declared a winner during a clinic in Dallas. Still, Emsley wasn't comfortable and asked Ed Welburn, GM's vice president of global design, if her team could keep sketching and conduct another clinic.
Typically, designers only repeat a clinic for poorly received sketches. Emsley wanted the same people to see new sketches.
"I said, 'GM, that's one of our biggest mistakes in the past. We haven't really listened,' " Emsley recalled. " 'We need to go back and listen. 'Did we answer what you said?' "
The company showed two new sketches (plus the original winner). The group liked a new one that had incorporated their feedback.
Among the changes: new instrument panels, larger controls and toggle switches that press down to activate things such as park assist. Some told GM they didn't like seeing blank switches for features they declined.
Emsley reconvened the group a third time — about two years ago — to have shoppers sit in mock-ups.
The group told GM the interiors were modern and futuristic, and would hold up against the competition for a long time.
"If (pickup buyers) like their truck when they buy it, they don't change them that often because they're very practical people," Emsley said. "They keep them a long time, so that's why it's so important for them when they buy it, (that) it has everything that they want."
The company is spending more on materials. GMC customers will see aluminum instead of plastic on trim areas. Fabric seats in black, tan and gray will be made from a cloth that lasts longer and resists staining.
Dealer-operator Greg Brown predicts his store's truck sales will double each of the next three years.
He called the interior of the 2014 model a "night and day" difference. "(It's an) unbelievable truck," he said. "I love it. … The luxury and what it can do, it is a comfortable driving vehicle with a bed on the back."