Vehicle styling is a subjective matter, but one particular element has started to irk us more and more here at the GM Authority offices: antennas. While many car and SUV models have ditched the conventional antenna, GM trucks – such as the all-new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Silverado HD along with the GMC GMC Sierra 1500 and GMC Sierra HD – all still feature traditional rod-shaped units, formally called monopole antennas.
Notice the big, 90s-era monopole mounted just behind the front fender of each truck. Well, no – not on each truck. The monopole is absent in some of the photos because GM staged these pictures with the antennas removed, to make them more photogenic.
There’s also a second, aerodynamic antenna on the roof – also known as the roof fin – just aft of the windshield, and that one is clearly visible in all of these pics.
So, what’s the deal with the dual antenna setup? Well, it’s actually not all that uncommon. In fact, almost every vehicle on the road has multiple ways of receiving wireless signals, but few still use a traditional monopole like the Silverado and Sierra.
To start, the monopole is only capable of receiving AM and FM radio signals. While the two GM trucks retain the monopole to pick up AM and FM waves, many modern vehicles integrate the antennas into the rear windshield. You’ll notice these antennas, along with the defroster, as subtle black or copper-colored lines on the glass.
Modern vehicles also typically include cellular (like OnStar and other telematics systems), GPS and satellite radio receivers, and two GM trucks are no exception to that. The receivers for more advanced communication technologies reside within the roof fin. Some models, such as the Chevrolet Sonic, even combine the roof fin with a short monopole, resulting in a single assembly that’s as elegant as a standalone fin and glass-mounted antennas.
So if there are sleeker options out there, why does GM retain the separate monopole for AM/FM reception on these trucks? Well, it might be due to simplicity. The glass-mounted antennas aren’t serviceable if they’re damaged, making it necessary to replace the entire rear glass assembly. By contrast, a monopole is essentially a wire wrapped around a metal or plastic rod, and it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to replace. In fact, plenty of Silverado and Sierra owners choose to fit aftermarket monopoles that are shorter or more appealing from an aesthetics standpoint than the original one.
Then again, the back glass of the two GM trucks already includes embedded defrost wires, so it couldn’t be much harder to also embed AM/FM antennas there. The more likely reason for the monopole is cost: it’s simply less expensive to continue using a monopole than it is to embed the AM/FM antennas into the fin or into the rear glass.
In the automotive sector, every nickel, dime, and dollar counts, and it’s highly likely that retaining the monopole allows GM to save a few dollars per unit, which adds up big if you consider that the Detroit-based automaker sells several hundred-thousand full-size pickup trucks every year. It’s also worth considering that the Silverado and Sierra’s crosstown rivals, the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, also use monopole AM/FM receivers. That said a monopole is so 1990s, and many of us here at GM Authority would gladly pay the nominal price difference for a more integrated and invisible solution.
What say you, dear reader? Vote in the poll and share your opinion in the comments.