News from Autoblog (via Automotive News, somehow via General Motors) that GMC will not build a unibody pickup truck like the Denali XT concept from the 2008 Chicago auto show is not surprising. Other than a handful of products from Ford Motor Company, almost every car, all crossovers and most SUVs on the market make use of a unibody. Trucks, however, are typically built using body-on-frame “technology”.
Theories persist that using a monocoque structure for a truck could work. Despite necessary sacrifices in payload and towing, the gains in ride & handling and fuel economy would pay off, right? Right?
As Autoblog points out, the only truck out there with unibody construction is the Honda Ridgeline. Honda’s truck will get’cha one measly extra mpg in the city over the a typical Chevrolet Silverado 4×4.
Perhaps a stronger argument against mass production of unibody pickups is the sales, up to this point, of the only unibody pickup truck. The Good Car Guy, aka Timothy Cain, wrote extensively on this subject at LemonFree.com just last week. The Dodge Ram, which is far and away not the best-selling truck in America, sells more than twelve times as often as the Honda Ridgeline in 2009.
Is there no place for monocoque architecture in the truck world of tomorrow? Certainly not as a major player from a major truck manufacturer. As a niche product catering to a different kind of truck buyer, the Ridgeline can continue and a company like Ford, GMC, Dodge, or Toyota could make a simple but not very profitable run at 25,000 units per year.