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Chevy reveals electric Silverado pickup, vows to beat Ford’s towing, power, range

Chevrolet opened a new front in the Truck Wars on Wednesday, vowing its electric Silverado EV pickup will beat the Ford F-150 Lightning on a host of key performance metrics, including driving range, towing capacity, power and passenger space.

It’s the first salvo as the battle for pickup supremacy shifts to a critical new theatre: Electric vehicles.

GM CEO Mary Barra unveiled the Silverado EV — scheduled to go on sale in the second quarter of 2023 — in her keynote address Wednesday to the CES electronics show in Las Vegas. GM plans to stream Barra’s address on its Exhibit Zero website: gmexhibitzero.com/en-us.

The Silverado EV will debut as a 2024 model with prices starting at $39,900, Chevrolet vice president of marketing Steve Majoros said.

Full-size pickups like the Silverado, F-150 and Ram 1500 are U.S. automakers’ top selling vehicles, generating billions of dollars in profits annually. They also are among the most technically challenging vehicles to electrify. Pickup owners expect to be able to tow heavy trailers and haul cargo long distances, frequently including muddy worksites and fields. Towing is expected to reduce EV pickups range significantly, and the trucks’ heavy batteries may limit their usefulness off paved surfaces.

Automakers that crack the code to combine the performance pickup owners demand with environmental benefits and expected low operating costs expected from EVs will be sitting pretty as U.S. vehicles evolve away from internal combustion engines.

The lit up Chevrolet bowtie emblem on the front grill of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021. The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.
The lit up Chevrolet bowtie emblem on the front grill of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021. The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.

GM will build the Silverado EV and other electric vehicles including the GMC Hummer EV "super truck" and Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV at its $2.2 billion Factory Zero assembly plant, which straddles Detroit and Hamtramck.

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My EV pickup can whip yours

The Silverado EV is a five-passenger crew cab, measuring 233 inches long, 80 inches wide and 76 inches high — about the same as a current short-box Silverado crew cab.

Chevrolet claims a long list of "firsts" and "bests" — 24-inch tires, 10,000-pound towing capacity, 1,300-pound payload, 400-mile range and a glass roof, for a start — will vault the Silverado EV to leadership among electric pickups, despite going on sale more than a year after the Rivian R1T, which is available now, and many months after Ford’s F-150 Lightning, expected to go on sale this spring.

The 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV electric pickup should go on sale in spring 2023.
The 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV electric pickup should go on sale in spring 2023.

Silverado EV sales should begin in the second quarter of 2023.

Unlike other high-profile electric vehicles — Ford Mustang Mach-E, Lucid Air, R1T, every Tesla — which began sales with opulent top-of-the-line models, the first Silverado EVs off the assembly line will be work trucks with prices starting at $39,900.

It’s unclear what, if any, federal tax credits the Silverado EV will qualify for, due to legislative gridlock in Washington, D.C.

The Silverado EV will have a 5-foot, 11-inch bed, independent suspension and either two or four motors.

The cargo bed of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021.
The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.
The cargo bed of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021. The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.

Key features of the $39,900 electric work truck:

  • 8,000-pound towing capacity

  • 1,200- pound payload

  • 510 horsepower

  • 615 pound-feet of torque

The $105,000 RST first edition personal-use Silverado EV will heap on more power and features, including:

  • 10,000-pound towing

  • 1,300-pound payload

  • At least 664 hp and 780 pound-feet of torque

  • 0-60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds

  • Four-wheel steering

  • Automatic adaptive air suspension

  • Multi-Flex seven-feature tailgate

  • 17-inch infotainment touch screen

  • 14-inch head-up display

  • Configurable 11-inch instrument cluster

  • Super Cruise highway hands-free driving system, with trailering capability

  • Fold-away "midgate" that opens the cab’s rear to the bed to accommodates items 9 feet long with the tailgate closed

  • Removable rear window for open-air driving

The Silverado EV’s DC fast charging ability — up to 350 kW or 800 volts — will allow drivers to add 100 miles range in 10 minutes.

The electric plug-in in the driver's rear of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021.
The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.
The electric plug-in in the driver's rear of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021. The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.

Chevrolet won’t say how long it will take to DC-charge to 80%, or for a full charge at 240v, the most commonly cited competitive figures for other EVs.

Designed like no other pickup

The Silverado EV’s exterior styling is more adventurous than the evolutionary F-150 Lighting. Both pickups share a full width LED lightbar more or less across where the front edge of the hood would be on a conventional pickup. The similarities end there.

A side view of the front grill of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021.
The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.
A side view of the front grill of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021. The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.

While Ford took pains to make the F-150 Lighting look like conventional F-150s — same cab size and profile, identical beds — Chevy created a whole new pickup look for the Silverado EV.

Pickups, even expensive, luxurious ones, work for a living, so the new form follows function in ways that take advantage of an EV’s unique engineering. The cab is bigger than conventional Silverados, creating more passenger room and storage. The A-pillars slant sharply back for a sloping windshield and aerodynamic benefits.

“Our electric vehicle architecture let us rethink the whole usage of space,” designer Chip Thole said. “We’ve got a very short front overhang and better rear legroom than any crew cab pickup.”

The frunk on the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021.
The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.
The frunk on the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021. The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.

The EV architecture is so stiff — thanks to the fact that the Silverado’s big battery pack is a structural part, linking the frame rails and filling the space between the axles — that engineers made the body a single piece, eliminating the open space between cab and bed that allows current pickups to flex in response to heavy loads. That continuous profile contributes to excellent aerodynamics, reduced wind noise and the Silverado EV’s unique appearance.

An EV that means business

The Silverado EV’s interior features a pair of big LCD screens, one for instruments, the other a touch screen that controls many features. However, designers studiously retained buttons and dials for frequently used functions like volume, audio tuning, temperature and fan speed.

The dash for the driver gives all kinds of information on the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021. The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.
The dash for the driver gives all kinds of information on the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021. The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.

“We firmly believe knobs and buttons are necessary for some functions,” chief engineer Nichole Kraatz said. Other popular features like heated seats can be programmed so they’re always available at a single touch.

There’s no start button or key. The Silverado EV will unlock when its key fob, or a phone or card programmed to start it, approaches. Step inside and the pickup is ready to drive away. It shuts off when you walk away and lock it.

The work truck’s range is TBA, but will be shorter than the expensive RST’s 400 miles. That’s not surprising. Business fleets often have more predictable service areas and hours than personal use vehicles.

The rear seats in the seated position but when folded down give ample space for hauling long items that can continue through to the cargo bed of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST that was on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021.
The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.
The rear seats in the seated position but when folded down give ample space for hauling long items that can continue through to the cargo bed of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST that was on display at Stage 3 in Warren on Dec. 21, 2021. The RST model of the all-electric pickup truck will be available in the Fall of 2023 fully loaded for $105,000 with an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge.

Chevy will begin sales with the work truck for fleet or individual customers in the second quarter of 2023. The RST first edition should go on sale that fall.

Other models will follow, include lower priced personal use vehicles and a work truck capable of towing 20,000 pounds, well into the range of current heavy-duty pickups like the Silverado 2500 and Ford F-250.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Chevrolet Silverado: Electric pickup unveiled during CES 2022