The U.S. Department of State has awarded General Motors’ defense arm a $36.4 million development contract that includes the purchase of 10 modified Chevrolet Suburban SUVs, to be built over the next two years, GM announced Wednesday in a press release.
Destined for use with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Suburbans will share bodywork, interiors, powertrains, and brakes with civilian models. However, they’ll be considered heavy-duty vehicles and be built on a more rugged platform to meet government requirements; GM hasn’t offered a Suburban HD to civilians since the early 2000s.
President Biden has said he plans to emphasize electric vehicles for government fleets, but, when it comes to getting diplomats in and out of dangerous areas, it looks like the State Department will continue to rely on old-fashioned internal combustion. As HD vehicles designed for government use, these Suburbans also aren’t included in GM’s aspiration to eliminate tailpipes from its light-duty vehicle lineup by 2035.
In addition to the new HD chassis, the government Suburbans will feature a unique suspension, helping to increase payload capacity, according to GM.
The automaker plans to deliver the vehicles in two phases, starting next spring, and wrapping up around May 2023. GM expects to get a production contract for 200 vehicles over nine years once the initial 10-unit order is completed, and said it’s looking at “advanced manufacturing tools and techniques” to make production more efficient, reduce costs, and allow more flexibility for future changes.
The Suburban was already a popular choice for government and law-enforcement work. Flip on the news, and you’re likely to see a convoy of them shuttling important people from place to place. Canadian armored-vehicle specialist Inkas has already designed an armored version of the latest Suburban, which debuted for the 2021 model year.