Attendance Down, But EV News Increases
CES was originally the Consumer Electronics Show though it has evolved along with the role of CE in our lives. It has become the auto show of January over the past decade, even more exciting than many auto shows of the traditional variety as technology is unveiled along with new cars and trucks. In spite of the resurgence of a new mutation of Covid-19, this year’s version of CES pushed forward with a hybrid live/online structure that allowed major automakers to present their latest vehicles and technology to kick off 2022.
At Clean Fleet Report, we’ll try to give you some of the highlights of the show, packaged thematically. Today’s headline news is trucks, highlighted by General Motors CEO Mary Barra’s keynote unveiling the coming Chevrolet Silverado EV, announcing it was available for online reservations. That followed a day behind Ford’s announcement that it was roughly doubling (to 150,000/year) the planned production of the upcoming F-150 Lightning EV pickup on the day it opened up the order channel so the roughly 200,000 hand-raisers could convert their interest into configured orders for delivery later this year.
GM’s Answer to the F-150 Lightning
GM’s had a tough year, losing the annual sales crown to Toyota for the first time in decades, losing the number two truck sales spot to the Ram, having to stop sales of its Bolt EV due to battery fire issues, and seeing cross-town rival Ford steal much of the electric truck thunder will the introduction of the Lightning EV version of its best-selling pickup. GM started production of its first electric pickup, the GMC Hummer EV, just before Christmas, and said customer deliveries of the 2022 model would start, although no further news announcements have come out.
Maybe that news blackout at the end of the year was corporate strategy to shift focus to the volume division—Chevrolet—and its own electric pickup. While GMC Hummer delivery news will probably resurface after the CES news blitz subsides, Chevrolet said the 2024 Silverado EV will arrive in spring 2023 with a $39,900 Work Truck (WT) model. That will be followed in the fall with the more upscale ($100,000+) RST model, which will have more features. Additional models will trail in after that, visualizing Chevy’s latest version of the Alfred Sloan’s motto, an electric truck at all price points between the two intro models.
The First Two Models
As can be expected with the price differentiation between the two initial models, features vary. It’s not surprising that the fleet-oriented WT will launch at a price only a few dollars different than Ford’s F-150 Lightning PRO. The range for the first model is estimated at 400 miles, and it will tow 8,000 pounds. All versions of the Silverado EV are based on GM’s Ultium platform, which provides a flexible battery “floor” that will also underpin the GMC Hummer as well as other models (more on that later) from all GM divisions. On top of the Ultium platform all Silverado EVs will be Crew Cab models with spacious interiors. The batteries underneath will be capable of charging at up to 350 kilowatts, which could add 100 miles of range to the battery in 10 minutes.
Powering the standard e4WD system on the WT are two motors putting out a combined 510 horsepower (hp) and 615 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. In addition to the towing mentioned above, it will have a 1,200-pound payload. After launch, Chevrolet will add an additional fleet model capable of towing up to 20,000 pounds.
Since the truck was introduced virtually, we didn’t get a chance to see it in the flesh, but some Detroit-based journalists were given a preview last month and noted it looks smaller than the internal combustion engine Silverado. In reality, it is one-inch longer, though it sits on a one-inch shorter wheelbase and also is one-inch lower. The short hood makes it look more like the midsize Colorado. The bed is just a little shorter than six feet.
The Other End of the Spectrum
When the RST model arrives in fall 2023 it will present a version more similar to the tech-heavy GMC Hummer. The $105,000 (plus destination) price puts it in the same territory as well. It will have a wide-range of features, including:
- Automatic adaptive air suspension
- A multi-flex midgate behind the second-row seat similar to what Chevrolet used to offer on its Avalanche pickup. It expands the bed capacity to nine feet while retaining some rear seating.
- A 17-inch LCD infotainment screen, an 11-inch reconfigurable driver information display and a multi-color 14-inch head-up display
- Super Cruise, GM’s advanced hands-free adaptive cruise control system that can also be used while towing (feature available for use on approximately 200,000 miles of compatible roads)
- Available multi-flex tailgate
The RST bumps up the horsepower of the two-motor system to 664 hp and 780 lb.-ft. of torque. It will be able to tow 10,000 pounds and carry a 1,300-pound payload.
Both Chevrolet models, along with the GMC Hummer and upcoming GMC Sierra EV, will be assembled at the new Factory Zero in Detroit, a historic plant that was saved from closure when GM shifted it to EV production.
In contrast to Ford’s aluminum bodies, Chevy’s pickups are all-steel, including the hood and doors. While pickup trucks are traditionally built as body-on-frame models, GM describes the Ultium platform as a hybrid between that structure and a unibody.
The Chevy EV Explosion Continues
GM points to the Silverado EV as one of its 30 global EV models to be introduced by 2025, maybe the most significant because it is based on the company’s best-selling U.S. model. As part of her CES keynote, GM CEO Mary Barra also announced two additional 2024 EV models would also appear in 2023. In the spring the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV will arrive along with the first Silverado models.
When the Silverado RST hits the market in the fall, it will be joined by the 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV, initiating the electrification of Chevrolet’s second best-selling model. Barra said the Equinox would be priced “around $30,000,” which should make it one of the lower-priced EVs on the market. Like the Silverado, the Equinox will come in fleet-oriented and retail trim lines. Both the Blazer and Equinox EVs will also be based on the Ultium platform.
The Rest of the Pickup Pack
Back to the Silverado EV and the proliferation of electric pickups. To recount, the GMC Hummer EV and Rivian R1T are in production and making their way to consumers (and Rivian has announced a second production plant, although it also said some longer range models may be delayed). The Ford F-150 Lightning will start production this year in Detroit as the Tesla Cybertruck will in Austin, Texas, according to Elon Musk’s last product update.
The last of the Detroit Three, the Ram is expected to have a full-electric model in 2024, which may be when we see the GMC Sierra EV. Nissan showed a prototype last year of what could be an electric version of its Frontier pickup. Toyota also showed an electric pickup as one of its concepts of future vehicles.
Smaller competitors are in various stages—Bollinger, Workhorse, Lordstown, Nikola all may or may not finally get to the market in any volume. Other European and Asian companies could show up and jump in as well, as we saw when Vietnamese automaker Vinfast showed two models at the LA Auto Show and then three additional ones at CES.
What we know is pickups are the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. and electric versions of most of them will be available by mid-decade. If there is any EV that could reach the broader market in the middle of the country, it’s a pickup. Hang on, the Texas Truck Rodeo may become a lot quieter while it packs more horsepower than ever when electric pickups compete.
Last Year’s Pickup News
Feature: 5 Innovative Electric Concepts
First Ride: 2022 Ford F-150
Feature: Tailgating with an EV Pickup
News: GM Commits to EVs