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Old 02-24-2020, 12:45 AM   #1
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Why Hasn't GM Built Class A Duramax Powered Chassis?

Why Hasn't GM (or Workhorse) built Class A Duramax Powered Chassis?
With the new GM Duramax powered pickups (445 HP 910 ft lbs Torque) pulling up to 35,500 pounds with an Allison 10 speed automatic transmission that give great power, good mileage, low engine noise, I'll never understand why GM, (or Chrysler or Ford) don't build a front engine Class A diesel chassis. It would revolutionize the front engine Class A motorhome market for the same reason it has dominated heavy duty pickup trucks. The development cost has already been invested so why not build a new stretched Duramax chassis for Class A's?

The cost may be the only obstacle I can see would be the cost as evidenced by the high cost of the Super Class C mootorhomes.

I have a a GM 8.1/Allison powertrain in my Winnebago Adventurer that pulls as hard as any gas engine made but if it ever fails, I am going to seriously look at swapping a late model Duramax into it. Has anyone tried this yet? I don't see the new smaller Ford 7.3L gas engine being much of an improvement over the Ford 6.8L V-10 and certainly not the discontinued 8.1L GM engine.


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Old 02-24-2020, 06:48 AM   #2
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Cost? Lack of market interest from Manufacturers? Is there enough volume in Class A gasser sales for multiple chassis options?
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Old 02-24-2020, 10:25 AM   #3
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My guess would be an issue with emissions certification. It's hard enough to get certifications done timely on higher production models.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:22 PM   #4
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Just a business decision and we are not likely to get any true "reason" explained down to our level until a bunch of folks want to buy one and that isn't likely to happen in my world.
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Old 02-24-2020, 02:59 PM   #5
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Another issue is the boom and bust cycles and the volatility of the RV market. Maybe the investment isn't worth the risk, although Ford has dominated the Class A gas line with a less than optimal product, which has been very profitable for them for the past 10 years.
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Old 02-24-2020, 05:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deucehotrods View Post
Another issue is the boom and bust cycles and the volatility of the RV market.
Which is something they probably should be familiar with--and maybe had a bad history with. Here's a Youtube video which tries to claim an explanation for why GMC stopped building its advanced motorhome back in the 70s. I don't have the patience to watch the video, but for those who do:



My parents had a Revcon motorhome about the same time. It had the same 455 FWD GM engine/transmission and was a nice unit.
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Old 02-24-2020, 09:24 PM   #7
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I watched the video and it was 8 minutes well spent on a fascinating subject - General Motors and the battle of the bean counters versus the engineers. The bean counters won as evidenced by the reign of mediocrity by CEO Roger Smith who virtually destroyed the once great company from 1981 to 1990. Its amazing that of the 12,000 built, 8,000 are still on the road today over 40 years later. The GM motorhomes would succeed today with some modern updating, and it shows how far ahead of their time they were. Its very telling how Ford steps into these niche markets and profits while GM walks away from a good product like their 8.1L Vortec engine. Its obvious that the market is still viable when Ford develops an all new 7.3L V-8 to fill it.
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:34 AM   #8
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I'm surprised there were only 12,000 built. I remember seeing quite a few of them. I saw my first Jeep Gladiator yesterday and I'm pretty sure there have been far more than 12,000 of those sold.

Are you sure it was an 8.1 liter? I remember it being a 455.
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Old 02-25-2020, 01:59 PM   #9
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I wasn't saying that the GM 8.1L Vortec engine powered the 1973 to 1978 GMC motorhome, it was indeed the 455 Oldsmobile Toronado front wheel drivetrain. It would have been even better if they had used the 1970 to 1976 Cadillac Eldorado front wheel drivetrain. That was an awesome engine that was even more powerful than the Oldsmobile and better quality.

What I was referring to was the discontinued GM 8.1L Vortec engine that powered the Workhorse Class A chassis from 2001 to 2011. It powers my 2005 Winnebago Adventurer and I think its the finest gas engine ever made for a Class A motorhome. If GM would have kept it in production and continued developing it, I think it would have dominated the market, which is why I think they should develop a Duramax powered chassis today.
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Old 02-25-2020, 03:22 PM   #10
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Thx for the explanation. I didn't catch the change of topic.
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Old 02-25-2020, 03:37 PM   #11
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There were several Front Engine Diesels Class A (FRED) based on Frightliner chassis etc. on the market about 10 years ago.
They were not sucessful due the fact that they united the diesel disadvantages and the gas disadvantages: noisy like a gasser (or even more) and expensive like a diesel. While the mileage was not that much better.
Those FREDs were the predecessors of the actual entry-level diesel-pushers like the Winnebago Forza, Thor Palazzo, etc.
If invest several tens of thousands of dollars more, invest it in a diesel pusher's cab, because it's much more comfortable than a gas Class A with a doghouse and a noisy engine inbetween the driver and passenger.

Well, the big diesel engines from GM or Ford are quite good, even they are made for much lighter vehicles than a 26000+lbs rv. As well as the 10-speed gearbox.

For those who are really freaks: There is another alternative made in Sweden: A Volvo Hybrid engine, often used in Europe for public transport. Very good in the mountains. The electric support of the diesel engine during acceleration gives much more torque and saves a lot of fuel (15%-20%). If you install the battery on the roof, you even keep the storage capacity...
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:03 PM   #12
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There were several Front Engine Diesels Class A (FRED) based on Frightliner chassis etc. on the market about 10 years ago.
They were not sucessful due the fact that they united the diesel disadvantages and the gas disadvantages: noisy like a gasser (or even more) and expensive like a diesel. While the mileage was not that much better.
Are you sure they are gone? How is one of the two here different?

https://www.tfltruck.com/2020/02/sem...d-yacht-video/

I actually like that format despite the noise. Easier to work on and presumably a standard windshield.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:07 PM   #13
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Well thinking of the nice Monaco Vesta or the Fleetwood Bounder Classic FRED etc, a "Super C" is quite different.
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Old 02-26-2020, 06:42 AM   #14
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We prefer shorter RV's because we like to camp in State Parks where many sites are shorter than many currently popular models can fit into.

We also like FREDs. Pushers are too long. However the manufacturers are dropping shorter FRED's like hot cakes.


Make/Model Model Years Made
Itasca Reyo 25 2010-2015
Winnebago Via 25 2012-2018

Damon Avanti 2806 2009-2011

Thor Avanti 2806 2011, 2012

Tiffen Allegro Breeze 28BR 2011- 2015
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Old 02-26-2020, 02:53 PM   #15
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After spending many miles in a friend's new Duramax pickup, I think they are many, many times better that the previous front engined diesel motorhomes, both in power, mileage and the utter lack of noise. All they did then was put a motorhome on an old technology heavy duty diesel truck chassis, which was a non-starter. These new Duramax trucks are amazing in their capacity, quietness and comfort. This years increase in the carrying capacity would more than match any Class A gas motorhome chassis ever made. Basically all that is needed is a current Class A chassis with the Duramax engine and Allison 10 speed transmission. It could be done if the price is within reason. I would think it could be done for about $10K more than the current Ford gas Class A chassis and it would be winner.

The maximum GCWR for the latest Chevy Silverado HD3500 is an unbelievable 40,000 lbs! The gross combined weight rating or gross combination weight rating (GCWR), is the maximum allowable combined mass of a road vehicle, the passengers and cargo in the tow vehicle, plus the mass of the trailer and cargo in the trailer. This rating is set by the vehicle manufacturer.

The GCWR is a function of the torque output of the engine, the capacity and ratios of the transmission, the capacity of the driving axles and tires, the capacity of the radiator, and the ability of the chassis to withstand that powertrain torque.
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Old 02-27-2020, 09:30 AM   #16
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1.6 Billion US$. That were the costs for Volkswagen to get the Phaėton W12 (similar to the Audi A8 but steel not alu frame) over the Channel to England, get the front / rear plastic and the seats changed and sell it as a Bentley Continental Flying Spur on the market. So never underestimate the costs for a "good idea". The price for the Ford Chassis is low due the fact that Ford built it over years without expensive upgrades. Guess that the investions for a new chassis are too big for GM. GM is already closing several production facilities all over the world, sold the European Divisions to the French PSA... sold the Thai facility to the Chinese... even retired the brand Chevrolet from Asia and Europe and this in a globally strong growing market. Even the Cadillac Sedans are not selling well in the US.... So guess that GM has other things on the priority list than a Front Diesel Class A chassis. But... who knows?
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Old 02-27-2020, 03:21 PM   #17
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I would now say it was probably a good decision not to build one after watching the stock market news this week!
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Old 03-01-2020, 06:50 PM   #18
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Drive a Freightliner Custom chassis with the 6.7L Cummins, and you can do with 6 cylinders what you have to have 8 cylinders in the GM. That is 33% fewer moving parts, pulling the same load. And, any genuine Cummins dealer can fix them.
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Old 03-01-2020, 09:43 PM   #19
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Perhaps because GM sold WorkHorse to Navstar who then gave it the ax after the braking system debacle they inherited from GM revolving around the Bosch disc brake calipers with the phenolic pistons that would jamb up causing cracked rotors and brake fires which was made worse by the brake controllers software along with valve body which was prone to corroding if you didn't flush them using the severe service schedule.

There's more than one reason why NavStar(International Harvester) doesn't make WorkHorse any more other than as an Electric Delivery Truck and SureFly Helicopters and HoresFly Delivery Drones. Its an interesting transition.


WorkHorse Delivery Vans:
https://workhorse.com/index.html

WorkHorse/Moog SureFly:
https://www.moog.com/innovation/aircraft/SureFly.html

WorkHorse HorseFly Delivery Drones:
https://workhorse.com/horsefly.html
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Old 03-02-2020, 12:58 AM   #20
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Actually Workhorse Custom Chassis began in 1999. As Chevrolet decided to get out of the RV chassis business, Workhorse took over those operations, beginning with converting the Chevy P30 Step Van/RV chassis into a similar Workhorse version called the P32. In 2001 the W series chassis was designed strictly for motorhomes. Workhorse quickly garnered market share in the industry be committing itself to improving the chassis. What began as a W20 chassis became the W22, W24, and W25.5 variations. Navistar purchased the Workhorse company in 2005. The 8.1 Liter GM Vortec V8 with the Allison transmission was found in every Workhorse gas chassis until it was discontinued by GM in December of 2009. Admittedly the defective Bosch brakes on some of the W series chassis and the poor response by Workhorse gave it a black mark, but all the affected chassis were recalled and the Bosch brake calipers replaced. With the discontinuation of the GM 8.1L and the recession pushing Navstar Workhorse into bankruptcy, we lost a great motorhome platform. That's why a Duramax powered chassis would have been a winner in the class with great performance and nationwide dealer support. Unfortunately I am afraid we are seeing approaching economic distress that will hit the industry hard, maybe as hard as 2008.
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