Chevy Developing Heavy Duty Suburban for U.S. Government

by Lauren Boisvert

GM Defense, the sector of General Motors that develops military and government vehicles, has been awarded funds for a new project; the U.S. Department of State allotted GM Defense $36.4 million to design a new Chevy Suburban for their Diplomatic Security Service. Chevy will build 10 of the heavy-duty vehicles over the next two years.

“The Chevrolet Suburban has been an iconic name in commercial transportation since 1935,” said GM Defense president Steve Dumont in a press release. “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.”

Next spring marks the first shipment of Chevy Suburbans; GM Defense is hopeful for a subsequent contract for 200 vehicles per year for 9 years.

GM Defense

General Motors was founded on this day, September 16, in 1908. The company provided trucks for the war effort in 1914, manufacturing over 8,500 trucks. During WWII, a handful of GM plants were converted into weapons manufacturers. In the early 1940s, GM designed the amphibious truck-boat DUKW, called the Duck. It first appeared in combat in 1943 in the invasion of Sicily. During the Korean War, GM manufactured “J65 turbojet engines, 8.46 bazooka shells, and 5,431 anti-aircraft guns” in 1950. It was then that GM Defense was officially born.

Through the years that followed, GM Defense built the Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle for the military in 1965; tested out hydrogen fuel cells in 1985; and built the Unmanned Undersea Vehicle in 2012. In 2016, GM Defense tested the Chevy Colorado ZH2 fuel cell electric truck, and the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure. The SURUS is an autonomous superstructure that can be outfitted into a truck, command center, ambulance, mobile power generator, or for cargo.

Most recently, in 2019, GM Defense manufactured the Infantry Squad Vehicle. It can carry 9 people on and off-road, and is based on the Chevy Colorado.

The Chevy Suburban

The Chevy Suburban has gone through 11 generations of design since its inception. It has always been a big vehicle, initially made to bring passengers and luggage to and from the train station. It was the first of GM’s vehicles to have an all-steel body instead of wood. The Suburban is the longest-running nameplate in production, starting in the 1935 model year and still continuing today. Has continued to be GM’s most profitable vehicle.

The Chevy Suburban got and kept the reputation of being for individuals with big families. But, Suburban fans are loyal; according to General Motors, more than 75 percent of Suburban owners buy another one later. The Suburban even has its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; in 2019, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce awarded the Suburban its own star, claiming it had been in “1,750 films and TV shows since 1952.”