General Motors in last-ditch battle to revive Defense Division as car sales plummet

General Motors is competing with Oshkosh and Polaris Industries to secure an U.S. Army contract for trucks

General motors Renaissance Center, Detroit
General motors Renaissance Center, Detroit Needpix

General Motors is making an effort to revive its Defense division by trying to secure a contract from U.S. Army to build 651 Infantry Squad Vehicles (ISV) that can be parachuted from an aircraft and driven away with an infantry squad.

The contract competition has been narrowed down to three finalists, with General Motors competing with Oshkosh and Polaris Industries. The finalists are expected to deliver the prototypes by November 3. Each of the finalists has already been given $1 million to develop the prototypes.

The new truck will give mobility for a nine-soldier squad and it equipment to reach a battle after being parachuted from an aircraft. These trucks will have the ability to be dropped from a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter or a Boeing CH-47 Chinook.

The contract is expected to be awarded next spring and the delivery is likely to be made between 2020 and 2024. A total of 2,065 vehicles are expected to be made in the process. However, unlike the other two finalists Polaris, which has collaborated with Science Applications International, and Oshkosh Defense, which has teamed up with Flyer Defense, General Motors will be competing solo.

US military's E-6 B 'doomsday aircraft'
US military's E-6 B 'doomsday aircraft' Wikimedia Commons

The automaker will compete through its GM Defense division that was incepted in 2017, after the company had sold off its earlier defense division to General Dynamics in 2003.

Tough Challenge

Although General Motors faces a tough challenge in reviving its defense division, it also has the advantage of successfully developing two military-capable vehicles in the past. Its two military-capable trucks, Chevy Colorado and Silverado, were inspired by its civilian trucks. General Motors will be using a variant of Colorado for the IVS contact. This, understandably, is a smart move given that Colorado is its highest selling truck model and has already registered sales of more than 100,000 units this year. This also indicates that General Motors won't have problem meeting the demand of 2,065 trucks by 2024.

General Motors has been struggling for quite some time now, with car sales declining in the U.S. At the same time, the company has also been facing a strike involving 50,000 workers for more than a month now. This might play a major factor when it comes to actually award the contract.