GM to fund billion-dollar Chevy Silverado redesign

General Motors Co. has freed up cash to fund a major update of its full-size pickups, a bet that consumers and businesses will resume buying trucks after a long lull in sales.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Chairman and Chief Executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr. has agreed to fund the move, said GM product chief Tom Stephens. The remodeling could cost the company close to $1 billion, a person familiar with the matter said.

GM, which had relied on full-size pickups such as the Chevrolet Silverado for a major portion of its U.S. revenue and operating profit until this year, had put off redesigning the trucks as it underwent bankruptcy and a government takeover.

Full-size SUV sales are down and not likely to bounce back strongly, but the need for working vehicles has merely waned, and General Motors is anticipating that a turnaround in industries like housing will spike truck sales. This proactive funding of a redesign will put GM’s new wares in showrooms for 2012-2013.

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