Mold-smashing Chevy Silverado EV avalanches onto the e-pickup scene
When it designed the F-150 Lightning, Ford carried over the rugged looks and dimensions of the ICE-driven F-150. Chevrolet takes a very different tack with its Silverado EV, reimagining its stalwart full-size truck into a sleeker, more versatile electric pickup for work, life and recreation. Along with up to 400 miles of range, the Silverado EV packs a unique Multi-Flex Midgate that extends the bed over the top of the folded rear seats, a four-wheel steering system, 350-kW charging capabilities, and a trailer-friendly hands-free autonomous Super Cruise system.
We had expected Chevy to follow Ford's lead in basically building an electric powertrain into its existing rugged, best-selling pickup – if it ain't broke, after all. Instead, though, it designed the Silverado EV from the ground up as an electric truck, pulling it closer in form to the Hummer EV pickup with which it shares its Ultium underpinnings.
The Silverado EV looks more like the old Chevy Avalanche than a modern Silverado and has a bed that's just over an inch (2.5 cm) longer than the short bed on the ICE Silverado at 5 ft 11 in (1.8 m). As the Avalanche did, the electric Silverado uses a trick much more common in SUVs than pickups to give it more flexibility and load-carrying capacity. The 40/60 split-folding rear seats drop down, and the Multi-Flex Midgate dividing the Crew Cab interior from the exterior pickup box opens in several ways to create an indoor/outdoor bed floor that's more than 9 ft (2.7 m) long.
Add the available Multi-Flex Tailgate that Chevy adapted from the GMC Sierra's MultiPro version, and the bed floor extends to 10 ft 10 in (3.3 m). And if you route the cargo through the driver side of the Midgate, you can still carry a rear passenger.
The Silverado EV doesn't look much like a traditional Silverado up front, either. In place of the usual Silverado front-end, which just seems to get bigger and blockier every refresh, the Silverado EV has a softer, more sculpted treatment with curving, wraparound headlight band. It's still tall and stacked with multiple grille elements, but it reminds us more of the direction Chevy went with the latest Blazer than it does the contemporary full-size pickup lineup. More than a styling exercise, the smoothened front-end promises one of the lowest drag coefficients on the full-size pickup truck market, which in turn contributes to the estimated 400-mile range.
Love or hate the non-traditional facial styling, truck buyers are sure to appreciate the big, cavernous front "eTrunk" just behind it. Without a big cylinder-jammed diesel or gas power plant rattling the hood panel, there's plenty of open cargo space for luggage, camping gear, coolers and more. Chevy also previews some organizers and dividers that will make the space even more useful.
At launch, Chevy will sell the Silverado EV in two separate versions, topped by the flagship RST First Edition that will cost eager buyers a cool US$105,000. The First Edition will come with the promise of 400 miles (644 km) of range and a standard Multi-Flex Midgate. Up to 664 horsepower and 780 lb-ft of torque will be available via "Wide Open Watts Mode," which will also open up a sub-4.5-second 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h).
As a technological showcase for first adopters, the RST First Edition will come fully loaded with the entire raft of goodies Chevy has planned for the Silverado EV lineup. That will include an electric 4WD layout with front and rear electric motors, a four-wheel steering system for tighter low-speed turns and increased high-speed stability, and independent front and rear suspension with an automatic adaptive air system. The RST launch model will pack 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) of towing and include a Super Cruise system that delivers hands-free autonomous driving capability even with a trailer in tow, a feature available on 200,000 miles of compatible US and Canadian roads.
Inside its five-seat Crew Cab, the RST First Edition will include a digital trio comprising a 17-in center infotainment display, 11-in digital instrument panel and 14-in field-of-view multi-color head-up display. A welcome illumination will greet the driver as he or she approaches, and a hands-free starting system will fire up the e-drive after recognizing his or her enabled device, leaving fingers free to buckle up and adjust mirrors. GM's Ultifi Linux-based software platform will evolve the Silverado EV's tech capabilities over time.
At the opposite end of the lineup, Chevy will offer the Silverado EV Work Truck (WT) as its other launch model. The $39,900 WT will be available to fleet customers at launch and will offer the same 400-mile range, with up to 510 hp and 615 lb-ft. It'll pack 8,000 lb (3,625 kg) of towing at launch, but Chevy plans to more than double that number with a 20,000-lb (9,070 kg) max towing package sometime down the line.
The Silverado EV's 1,300-lb (590-kg) max payload (for RST, 1,200 lbs for the WT) is disappointing, falling painfully short of the F-150 Lightning's 2,000 lb (907 kg) and well short of the smaller Rivian R1T's 1,760 lb (798 kg). Hopefully, Chevy will figure that out in time because that midsize-grade payload could prove a problem for both commercial and retail buyers.
Both the RST and Work Truck models will come with 350-kW DC public fast-charging capabilities, offering speeds of up to 100 miles (161 km) of range per 10 minutes of charging. Buyers will be able to tap into the 24-module Ultium pack when parked as well as when driving, using an available power bar to export up to 10.2 kW of electricity via 10 individual outlets, powering everything from work tools, to camping gear, to a home blacked out by a power outage. The Silverado EV will also be able to charge a separate electric vehicle using an available accessory charging cord.
The Silverado EV will be assembled with domestically and globally-sourced parts at GM’s Factory Zero Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, and the 2024 Work Truck will launch first in the Northern Hemisphere spring of 2023. The 2024 RST First Edition will follow in fall 2023, and after ramping up production, Chevy will fill out the family with additional models, including a regular RST and a Trail Boss. It plans to price package content at tiers of roughly $50,000, $60,000, $70,000, etc. All prices are before the estimated $1,695 destination fee. Reservations opened up on January 5 and are available now on the Chevrolet website.
Take a closer look at the Silverado EV in the photo gallery, where you can better see the various Midgate and rear seat configurations and some of the accessories Chevy has planned.
Source: General Motors