The Chevrolet Suburban is a part of popular culture since it’s regularly used in Presidential motorcades as well as a number of government agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, the Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense.
They also have had a role in any number of action-oriented movies and television shows where they are blown up or used to carry federal agents or Navy SEALS into gun fights.
It’s worth noting the U.S. Department of State just awarded GM Defense LLC, a subsidiary of General Motors, a contract “to develop and validate” what is described as next-generation Large Support Utility Commercial Vehicles (SUV) for future fleet production in support of the Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).
As part of the total development contract, which is valued at $36.4 million, GM Defense will create a purpose-built Heavy-Duty Suburban and building 10 vehicles during the next two years, making them among the most expensive passenger vehicles in the world.
GM rebuilds defense business
GM has manufactured weapons and vehicles for the U.S. military for more than a century, including during World War II when it was one of anchors for the “Arsenal of Democracy.” GM also built lunar rovers for NASA and more recently an unmanned undersea vehicle used by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. It also has built experiment fuel-cell and autonomous vehicles for the Department of Defense.
GM sold its Defense unit to General Dynamics in 2003, but in 2017 GM established a new defense subsidiary, GM Defense LLC, as it prepared a bid for a new vehicle for the U.S. Army.
GM Defense recently completed a new plant in Concord, North Carolina to fulfill a $214.3 million contract for 2,065 Infantry Support Vehicles based on the Chevrolet Colorado for Infantry Brigade Combat Teams.
The new vehicles for the State Department’s Security Service will utilize an existing GM truck platform. The HD Suburbans will utilize the architecture designed for full-size pickup trucks and large SUVs, GM said.
Off the shelf parts put to use
GM Defense plans to use commercial off-the-shelf parts, including the body, exterior, propulsion, interior and brakes for the HD Suburban. It will also feature a new and unique body-on-frame chassis and suspension, designed to specifically to support increased government vehicle performance requirements with a higher payload capacity and greater ground vehicle weight.
“We’re excited to be developing a fully-integrated, purpose-built HD Suburban in partnership with the U.S. Department of State,” according to Steve duMont, president of GM Defense.
“The Chevrolet Suburban has been an iconic name in commercial transportation since 1935. Our development contract win speaks to our long-standing legacy of exceeding transportation capabilities and our new, HD Suburban will deliver government-specific advanced mobility solutions to meet the needs of DSS.”
The first vehicle is expected to be delivered next spring and a production contract to build a fleet of 200 HD Suburbans per year for nine years is expected to succeed the completion of the development contract in or about May 2023.
As part of GM’s Global Innovation organization, GM Defense will continue to leverage GM’s expertise and proven capabilities to bring new, innovative solutions to the government and defense sector, creating growth opportunities for the company.