General Motors unveiled an all-electric version of its popular Chevrolet Silverado Wednesday as GM aims to ramp up EV production and compete in the EV pickup space with rival Ford.
The new-from-the-ground-up Silverado EV will go on sale in Canada in Spring 2023, initially as a fleet-only WT (Work Truck) model followed in the fall by the retail RST (Rally Sport Truck) in a fully loaded First Edition asking $119,948. Both those versions will have a predicted range of 640 kilometres.
Pricing wasn’t announced for the initial 640-km WT model, but a lower-range model to launch later in the model year will start at $52,448.
Reservations opened Wednesday, but “due to overwhelming early interest from our fleet and commercial businesses, we are limiting WT in MY24 to fleet customers only,” Chevrolet Canada product communications manager Lindsay Collins told The Globe and Mail. “Retail customers will have the opportunity to get a Silverado EV RST First Edition only. After MY24, retail customers will have the option to order additionals as they become available.”
The Silverado was revealed at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas as part of a wide-ranging keynote address by GM Chair and Chief Executive Mary Barra, who also said an Equinox EV compact crossover will be revealed later this year, and a midsize Blazer EV next year. Additional variants of the Silverado EV will also include an off-roady Trail Boss edition.
The electric Silverado’s debut escalates a battle for sales and customer loyalty in a segment that includes some of the most profitable vehicles the Detroit automakers sell. Startup Rivian Automotive’s electric R1T pickup, first shown in 2018, and Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk’s polarizing vision for an all-electric pickup called the Cybertruck, spurred the Detroit Three to accelerate development of electric pickups.
The electric Silverado will enter the race for both fleet and consumer buyers a year or more behind the electric Ford F-150 Lightning. That gap reflects contrasting strategic choices by the long-time rivals. The F-150 Lightning due for delivery starting this spring is a modified version of the current, gasoline F-150.
Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley is pushing aggressively to build as many Lightnings as possible before GM’s Silverado and other rivals hit the market. On Tuesday, Ford said it planned to double capacity for building Lightnings at its Rouge complex in Dearborn, Mich. to 150,000 vehicles a year.
Beyond the Chevrolet brand, Barra spoke of advances in autonomous driving, including Ultra Cruise that goes beyond the existing Super Cruise technology to promise door-to-door AD in 95 per cent of driving scenarios, eventually including every paved road in the U.S. and Canada. Ultra Cruise will debut on a forthcoming Cadillac Celestiq prestige sedan.
Aside from Silverado EV’s powertrain, notable available features include a full-length fixed glass roof, four-wheel steering, height-adjustable air suspension, and a Midgate reminiscent of the former Avalanche pickup (essentially, the ability to fold down the rear seats to extend the cargo area into the cabin).
Also on the menu: up to 10 outlets offering a combined 10.2 kW of accessory power; infotainment screens up to 17 inches; a frunk (“eTrunk” in Chevy-speak) in the truck’s front end; and trailering-capable Super Cruise.
Although the EV shares the same basic dimensions as the Crew Cab short-box version of the ICE Silverado, its styling is distinctive. It’s totally different under the skin, based on what GM calls its “global EV platform powered by proprietary Ultium batteries.”
The flexible platform, with independent suspension all round, will also underpin the already-announced Hummer EV SUV and pickup, the Brightdrop EV600 delivery van, the Silverado’s GMC Sierra sister vehicle, and the Cruise Origin autonomous shuttle. Electric versions of full-size SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade are also likely.
On the Silverado, electric motors at each end will provide all-wheel drive and – according to preliminary data - power outputs of up to 510 horsepower for the WT and (in Wide-Open-Watts mode) more than 660 horsepower for the RST First Edition. DC fast-charging capability up to 350 kW, where available at public stations, could add 160 kilometres of range in about 10 minutes, GM says.
Chevrolet predicts 8,000-pound tow rating and 1,200-pound payload for the WT, or 10,000 and 1,300 respectively for the RST First Edition, but adds that for model year 2025 “we will introduce a model with a max tow capacity of 20,000 lbs.”
With the exception of the Brightdrop (which will be built at CAMI in Ingersoll, Ont.), all the EVs announced so far will be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which has been re-purposed for EV manufacturing and renamed Factory ZERO. GM isn’t revealing production volumes for the various EV products, but in the past the plant’s capacity has been reported as 230,000 annually.
In 2019, GM built more than 800,000 ICE Silverado and Sierra pickups at its three plants in the U.S. and Mexico, so the EV versions are unlikely to dominate sales in the short term. Barra said, however, GM plans to convert 50 per cent of its capacity to EV production by 2030.
With reports from Reuters