It’s been almost two years since Chevrolet first revealed its all-electric full-size pickup, yet there are still none for sale in showrooms, nor even available for order online. Plans to expand production to a second plant have paused amid softening demand for electric vehicles south of the border.
Despite the uncertainties, however, General Motors supplied a U.S.-spec Silverado EV – complete with window-sticker specs and pricing – for evaluation by North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) jurors in Michigan recently.
Despite its name, the Silverado EV is not an electrified version of the existing Silverado. It is a ground-up new design with its own distinct shape built around GM’s Ultium EV platform. We drove a fleet-oriented Work Truck (WT), which is launching in the first half of next year. Scheduled to launch at the same time is the high-spec, high-powered, retail-focused RST, targeting early adopters at a six-figure price.
GM Canada says WT pricing will start as low as the mid $50,000s. The NACTOY sample was a higher end 4WT trim with a US$77,905 base price. This version has dual motors generating 510 horsepower and 615 lb-ft of torque, a maximum tow rating of 10,000 pounds or an impressive EPA-estimated range of 715 kilometres.
Another WT model ups the tow rating to 12,500 pounds but has a reduced range (unburdened) of 632 kilometres. The RST claims 644 kilometres and coming later will be models with a 563-kilometre range.
Chevrolet doesn’t reveal battery sizes, but does cite fast-charge capability (standard on all models) up to 350 kilowatts, which can add up to 160 kilometres of range in 10 minutes; 19.2 kilowatts of AC charging; and available 10.2 kilowatts of off-board vehicle-to-load capability that it calls Power Base.
The EV comes only as a Crew Cab, and revives the available Midgate from the discontinued Avalanche, with fold-down rear backrests that extend the (5-foot-11) cargo bed into the cabin. The 303-litre frunk under the hood is smaller than the Ford F-150 Lightning’s 399 litres, but rear-seat legroom is claimed to be best in class.
Settling in at the wheel of the 4WT takes some adjustment. There’s no start/stop button – the vehicle powers up automatically when you enter with an enabled device. The gauge cluster is a free-standing 11-inch flat-panel screen that looks like a tacked-on afterthought, ditto the WT’s separate 11-inch infotainment screen. (From pictures, we know the RST does a much classier job of integrating its gauge cluster and 17-inch infotainment screen).
Even on this relatively highly priced WT, the trim is a sea of grey plastic and the seat has just basic four-way manual adjustments. And yet, paradoxically, the steering column has power tilt-and-telescopic adjustment – a feature usually found only on higher-end luxury vehicles.
The “column shift” drive selector looks like a three-on-the-tree throwback, though of course there’s only one gear and you just toggle it to select D or R, or press on the end for P. That leaves space for a cavernous open box and a large lidded bin on the centre console, plus side-by-side cupholders.
On the screen you can, among many other functions, set how long the Power Base will stay live to operate external devices, or choose a minimum state of charge at which it will shut down, to ensure enough Range Reserve to get home.
A couple of 30-kilometre drives don’t amount to a definitive range test, but the displayed range and state-of-charge numbers consistently extrapolated to a potential range around 800 kilometres, well more than the claimed 715. Displayed energy consumption hovered around 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 kilometres over an even mix of freeway, two-lane rural and suburban driving in mild weather. That’s better than the window-sticker 33 but, for perspective, a Hyundai Kona Electric averaged about 14 over the same route.
The drives were enough to reveal the essence of the WT’s personality: it’s a work truck. Acceleration is solid and linear – accompanied by some faux engine noise that I liked – but hardly neck-snapping. Even in EVs, “engine music” is a matter of taste though.
Brake pedal feel, the Achilles heel of many EVs, is fine. Three levels of one-pedal driving can be selected on the screen: Off, On and High.
This isn’t one of those EVs that leverages the low-slung mass of its battery pack into athletic handling. You know you’re driving a big, heavy truck, an impression heightened by slow steering that requires more wheel twirling than usual these days. Ride comfort is quite respectable. Short, sharp impacts are heard more than they’re felt, and the independent rear suspension obviates the usual pickup rear-axle hop and skitter.
Clearly this isn’t our last word on the Silverado EV. We expect in the coming months GM will arrange more extended drive time, most likely in the powerful, luxurious and expensive RST First Edition. Production of that model is said to begin in the first half of next year, along with WT versions that should be more affordable than the 4WT we drove. GM Canada says the WT will start at $55,197, the RST First Edition at $122,697. In due course, the full portfolio will include Trail Boss and more, across a wide spread of price ranges.
2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV 4WT
- Price: US$77,905 (approx. $105,000 Canadian)
- Powertrain: Dual motors, 510 horsepower
- Transmission/Drive: One-speed/all-wheel drive
- Energy consumption (Litres equivalent per 100 kilometres): 3.5 city/4.0 highway
- Alternatives: Ford F-150 Lightning