Automotive journalists, YouTubers, influencers, and this fleet guy were invited to Michigan last week to put the brand-new 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV through its paces. The media event unfolded in traditional fashion: a beautiful location, access to engineers and product specialists, and time behind the wheel for driving impressions and towing tests.
All that happened, but the typical embargoed press materials with vehicle specifications, capacities, and performance ratings were not part of the package. Through the event, GM conveyed impressive topline stats for the truck — 10,000 lbs. max towing, 1,400 lbs. payload, and 450 miles of range — yet held back on some important numbers, most notably battery size and the truck’s curb weight.
Why? Obviously, specs will be revealed as the truck reaches buyers. For this event, perhaps it was better to allow automotive media to see what the truck can actually do, as opposed to concentrating on efficiency based on weights and vehicle architecture.
We’ll get to how the Silverado EV lays down the gauntlet in the nascent electric pickup wars and how it could be a game-changer for fleets. But yeah, we do need to go here first:
A Unibody Truck
Instead of a retrofitted ICE Silverado, the Silverado EV is built from the ground up around GM’s new electric Ultium platform. This delivers efficiencies that benefit aerodynamics, ride quality, dimensions, and range.
But the Silverado EV has a unibody architecture, not the standard body-on-frame like the ICE Silverado and any of its full-size truck competitors. GM called it “body-frame integral” in our onsite briefings.
We don’t know Silverado EV’s curb weight, but we can make an educated hypothesis. To deliver that eye-popping 450 miles of range, GM had to fit a very large battery into its new electric truck. The closest comparison would be the GMC Hummer EV, which uses the same Ultium architecture and a battery with 212 kWh of usable energy that delivers an EPA-certified range of 329 miles. The Hummer EV battery weighs close to 3,000 lbs., contributing to the vehicle’s whopping curb weight of over 9,000 lbs.
Silverado EV may, or may not, use the same battery as the Hummer EV. Regardless, to deliver 450 miles of range, the battery size and curb weight will be in the ballpark of a Hummer EV. That would make the electric Silverado a few thousand pounds heavier than its ICE sibling, and most likely a lot heavier than even a 1-ton Silverado HD 3500 at 7,000+ lbs.
These questions were originally raised at the launch of the Hummer EV, also based on a unibody architecture, but Hummer EV will always be a boutique vehicle. The Silverado EV is not. Questions on performance and longevity for a unibody truck over years of towing, hauling, and off-roading will surface, particularly as Silverado EV will be relied on for work.
So this unibody truck has a curb weight equal to or greater than a 1-ton pickup. Independent of the Hummer EV, is there any vehicle on the market today with that combination of massive weight and unibody design? We’re in uncharted territory.
Silverado EV’s competitors, Ford F-150 Lightning and the to-be-released Ram 1500 EV are body-on-frame trucks. Ram is targeting 500 miles of range. How big is that battery?
In either a body-on-frame or unibody architecture, we’ll have to see how heavy loads and off-roading will affect EV battery performance and warranty claims. These trucks will need to accrue thousands of miles on the road to answer the questions.
Let’s Talk Range
The Silverado EV dwarfs the ranges of both the F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T. It is a market differentiator for GM, at least until Ram proves it can deliver 500 miles of range. (Lordstown Endurance’s EPA-rated range of 167 miles does not reach the starting gate.)
Think about the usual range inhibitors for EVs — payload weight, climate control, ambient outside temperatures, topography, and of course towing. Those factors dampen Silverado EV’s range just like they would any other electric model. But there is much less anxiety when you have 40% more range than your competitors.
By GM’s calculation, on 80% of days, fleet drivers travel fewer than 256 miles, leaving plenty of battery range to allocate to off-board charging needs. This range opens a new realm of use cases, particularly as we wait for the buildout of public infrastructure.
How Does Silverado EV Tow?
At this event, I got into a Silverado EV hitched to a trailer with an almost 10,000-lb. John Deere bobcat tractor on top, nearly maxing out the electric truck’s tow limit. We towed on relatively flat country terrain for 11 miles, with air-conditioning, though never cresting 55 miles per hour.
According to the truck’s computer, we lost 19 miles in range after 11 miles traveled. With more extreme conditions, the loss would’ve been more severe. But this short test revealed slightly better performance than other published reports for towing with F-150 Lightning or Rivian, which showed that towing cuts range in half, or more than half while pulling less weight.
Once again, Silverado EV’s greater range opens wider use cases for towing.
My towing experience is pulling a 2,400-lb. Forest River popup camper with our four-cylinder Subaru Outback laden with kids and gear. So I can’t compare towing with a Silverado EV and ICE Silverado or any of their competitors. But in terms of driving, towing with Silverado EV was an impeccable experience.
The electric truck’s torque pulled the trailer off the line with no jerk or lag, and there was no discernable trailer sway on the road. The one-pedal regenerative braking worked well to bring the truck to a smooth stop.
It should be noted that the 4WT model also comes with the trailering package as standard, which is an option on F-150 Lightning.
How Does the Silverado EV Ride?
Without a trailer, driving this electric truck was also impeccable. Silverado EV has plenty of power off the line when passing and at highway speeds.
We were told the Silverado EV clocks in at 5.8 seconds going zero to 60, which can’t match the insane low and mid-four seconds of Rivian R1T or F-150 Lightning. But we’ll take the slower zero to 60 as a benefit for fleet customers and their lead-foot drivers.
This is also where the unibody architecture is a benefit — there wasn’t any mount shake that is typical with body-on-frame trucks. A GM product specialist said that the battery-integrated design gives the truck added structural rigidity. On the road, it felt firmly planted while more maneuverable than a body-on-frame truck.
And unlike a body-on-frame truck that comes with a solid axle and rear leaf springs, this EV has an independent rear coil suspension that delivers a more supple ride in the back.
Silverado EV has three regenerative brake settings: none, one-pedal low, and one-pedal high. Once you get used to it, one-pedal high is the way to go. And it does return miles to your range.
Silverado EV’s Dimensions, Look & Feel
Again, GM didn’t supply a spec sheet for its new electric truck. Silverado EV comes only in a crew cab with a 5’ 11” bed, which wins the electric truck segment to date.
An eyeball assessment reveals a much shorter front, making visibility easier for the driver. That front hood reveals a frunk or e-trunk, just like F-150 Lightning, though a bit smaller.
The truck is designed with “air curtains” off the cab, which increases aerodynamics and are reminiscent of the erstwhile Chevy Avalanche. Whether they impede the placement of an upfit or truck cap remains to be seen.
The initial 4WT model is only available in everyone’s favorite color, municipal fleet white. It would’ve been nice to have a few colors to choose from, but not to worry — there are plenty of vinyl wrap companies that will want a crack at this truck.
What is removed from the front is donated to the second row. For half-ton trucks, Ram 1500 Quad Cab is the roomiest, and Silverado EV seems to match that. Plus, the second-row split bench flips up to reveal a door-to-door storage area.
The interior on the 4WT is a huge step up from previous base models — the stitched seats give it a premium trim look. There are other thoughtful design improvements, such as large map pockets in the door.
The instrument cluster is housed in an eight-inch screen in front of the driver, while infotainment and navigation get their own 11-inch screen in the center. Google-integrated navigation is easily activated via voice.
Other standard goodies include 18-inch aluminum wheels, corner step bumpers, and a tonneau cover. Options include a spray-on bedliner, a charger that can receive 350 kWh DC power to charge 100 miles in 10 minutes, and 10.2 kW of off-board power to charge tools on the jobsite — or in our case, the two food trucks that provided dinner.
The migration of optional safety features to standard continues. Silverado EV comes with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic front and reverse braking 360-degree cameras standard, it's got the automatic front and reverse braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning.
Silverado EV Pricing, Other Details
The Silverado EV Work Truck model lists for $77,905 MSRP. For competitive comparison’s sake, optioning the F-150 Lightning with a bigger battery, trailer package, and other upgrades brings its price to about that level.
In Q4, fleet buyers will be able to spec a 4WT model with a 350-mile range battery for $72,905. The consumer-oriented RST first edition will be available with a 400-mile battery in Q4 too, and that goes for $105,000.
Initial Silverado EV units are being rolled out to GM’s first 350 commercial customers. For others, order banks are closed for the foreseeable future, likely into 2024.
But is it a Silverado?
So if this truck is built on a different, unibody platform from the ground up around this massive battery pack, can we even call it a Silverado?
Perhaps we need to break out of traditional norms as we enter this new world of electric pickups. Perhaps today’s engineering lessens the gap in durability between a unibody architecture and body on frame.
I put this question to a GM engineer at the event. His response: “With the Silverado nameplate, it means something to our customer base and the public,” he said. “It’s a truck, regardless that it’s an EV, regardless of its structure or suspension design.”
“We have to live up to that name. It’s a high standard, and I think we meet that standard with this truck.”
The true answers will be based on real-world miles yet to come.
Originally posted on Automotive Fleet