To celebrate its 100th anniversary, GMC – a division of General Motors which makes trucks, has come with with a vehicle it calls ‘an authentic professional grade truck’ – the Terra4 concept vehicle. In the American context, a ‘truck’ is basically a pick-up vehicle.
“The Terra4 builds upon the capability GMC has already established with the Terradyne (2000) and Terracross (2001) concept vehicles,” said Carl Zipfel, GMC brand character chief designer. “The truck market has undergone a radical shift as trucks have moved away from being strictly work vehicles to personal-use vehicles.”
However, as trucks have become more upscale, even prestigious, functionality remains supremely important. “GMC raises these elements to new heights with the Terra4 – a 4WD, 4-wheel-steer truck with four doors and four ways to access the cargo area,” Zipfel said.
The Terra4’s unconventional package – a totally integrated design and closed body, with a short, deep cargo area – permits greater functionality and utility than a pick-up truck. Doors on the rear quarter panels allow easy access to the closed cargo area. The passenger cab is moved up and forward, creating interior cargo space behind the second row of seats.
The 4-door truck also is loaded with features that would exceed the expectations of the most demanding customers. The concept vehicle combines the fuel efficiency and power-on-the-go capabilities of a parallel hybrid V8 engine with the car-like maneuverability of GM’s exclusive four-wheel-steering.
“We’re hitting a sweet spot here where function meets social responsibility, and it’s a stylish statement as well,” said Zipfel.
The Terra4 continues the story begun by GMC’s two most recent concepts – the Terradyne professional grade pick-up truck, and the sporty, versatile Terracross crossover vehicle.
“In size, looks, and market appeal, the Terra4 fits right between those two,” said Zipfel. “This concept makes the idea of ‘professional grade’ more clear – functional, comfortable and versatile.
“The Terradyne and Terracross were experiments to see where we could go with various ideas about interior space and the functionality of openings,” said Zipfel, who led both projects.
“This continues the legacy of several things we first tried on the Terradyne,” said Zipfel. “It has the cab-up-and-forward architecture for improved sight lines and optimal use of interior space.”
The cargo area, which is closed like a car boot, is accessible through the sides and rear. A convenient retractable decklid cover made of aluminium slats operates like a roller-blind, opening up the cargo area to accept tall items, when needed.
The versatile passenger cab, together with the cargo area, can be transformed to carry various combinations of passengers and cargo. In normal position, the cab seats four with storage behind the second row seats and a deep enclosed cargo area. A pass-through at the lower portion of the cabin’s rear wall opens to provide additional room for cargo. Also, the rear seats can be folded flat into the floor at the same level as the box, making one continuous load floor to accommodate long items.
Leather and brushed stainless steel dominate the interior, creating a sense of functional luxury and durability. The analogue gauges, which feature amber, soft glow lighting, with digital display technology, were inspired by the rugged, functional timepieces worn by divers and pilots.
All controls are slightly oversized for a more solid appearance, comforting grip and professional-grade feel. There’s also an integrated vehicle information centre and modular compartments mounted on the doors.
Power from from GM’s innovative Parallel Hybrid Truck, which brings together a 210 kW/285 bhp, 5.3-liter VORTEC V8 petrol engine and a powerful 4.8 kW electric motor/generator.
The motor/generator is integrated into the drivetrain between the petrol engine and the transmission. This provides starting power and the ability to generate electricity during deceleration. It also saves weight and parts because a conventional starter and alternator are no longer needed.
At a stoplight, the petrol engine shuts off, but the accessories continue working on stored electrical power. When the light turns green and the driver depresses the accelerator, the petrol engine restarts automatically. The truck gets more kilometres per litre because of the stop/start function, torque-smoothing for improved powertrain efficiency, and regenerative braking, which turns the motor into a generator to capture energy as the truck decelerates.
The parallel hybrid system is claimed to offer fuel savings of up to 15% with no reduction in the truck’s towing capacity. This system will be available as a powertrain option on GM’s full-sized pickups, the GMC Sierra and the Chevrolet Silverado, beginning in 2004.
As an added benefit of its robust electrical system, the Terra4 also features a pair of 110V/20A electrical outlets for powering anything with a standard three-prong household plug.
The Terra4 also features Delphi’s Quadrasteer 4-wheel steering system that is said to provide car-like maneuverability in a full-size truck. The steering system guides 20-inch low rolling resistance custom Goodyear tyres.
Quadrasteer is an electro-mechanical rear steer system that turns the rear wheel to produce 4-wheel steering. The rear wheels turn as a percentage of the front wheels up to a maximum 12-degree angle. The angle is based on vehicle speed and steering wheel turn. Presently, Quadrasteer is available on GMC Sierra Denali and with future applications slated for other full-size GM trucks.
At high speeds, the four wheels turn in parallel to provide better control of the vehicle through lane changes and sharp curves. At low speeds, the wheels turn in opposition, dramatically shortening the turning radius and making towing and parking a breeze.
“This concept is GMC’s latest expression of an authentic professional grade truck, with capabilities that will certainly exceed consumer expectations,” said Lynn Myers, Pontiac-GMC General Manager. “We’re very excited about this concept, and I think when people see all this truck can do – coupled with the fact that it gets up to 15% better fuel economy – they’ll be excited too!”
Height: 1934 mm
Length: 5366 mm
Width: 1980 mm
Wheelbase: 3454 mm
Tracks: 1822 mm
Weight: 3175 kgs