GM introduces the electric Silverado


TOWNSHIP OF PITTSFIELD, Michigan – Competition among US automakers for a still small group of consumers in search of electric vehicles is intensifying rapidly.

General Motors, normally America’s best-selling automaker, officially unveiled the electric Chevrolet Silverado at a virtual press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Work truck versions will go on sale in the spring of next year, followed in the fall by a high-end consumer version.

Until then, they’ll face competition from Ford’s electric F-150, Rivian’s R1T, and possibly Tesla’s Cybertruck. Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, has promised an all-electric Ram.

Industry analysts say intense competition in the electric pickup truck market means battery-powered vehicles are fast becoming mainstream after years of confinement in luxury or smaller vehicles.

Pickup trucks are among the most popular vehicles in the country. Ford’s F-series has traditionally been America’s best-selling vehicle, followed by the Stellantis Ram pickup and the Chevrolet Silverado. Automakers sold more than 2.3 million large pickups last year, or about 15% of all vehicles sold in the United States

But converting buyers from V8 and V6 to gasoline and diesel can be a tough sell, especially for those who need the trucks for the job.

“They are very loyal buyers, and they’re not just brand loyal, they’re engine loyal,” said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting for LMC Automotive, an industry consulting firm. “They also know all the characteristics of what they drive. They certainly tend to be motorheads or gearheads.”

Brian James, who works for a Birmingham, Michigan company that supplies heaters and dehumidifiers to construction sites, says an electric truck wouldn’t work for his company, which has customers in four states.

Some days they travel over 400 miles one way to deliver heaters. “I’m going. I’m delivering two heaters and have to drive home,” James said Tuesday at a housing development near Ann Arbor, Michigan. “How long will it take to charge the batteries?” for the return trip, he asked, also wondering where the charging stations would be located.

GM says the new electric Silverado will have the ability to power tools on the job site, tow trailers and even power a home in the event of a power outage.

The first Silverado work truck, and a consumer version slated for release in fall 2023, will be able to travel 400 miles on a single charge. It can handle fast DC chargers and get up to 100 miles of range in 10 minutes.

LOADER SEARCHER

To alleviate anxiety about running out of juice, the truck will plot a driver’s route, indicating optimal charging stations along the way, said Nichole Kraatz, the truck’s chief engineer. “It’s really important that we integrate this for the customer so that they don’t feel that pressure, that painful point and that anxiety of not having enough load to make their commute,” she said.

GM has made deals with 10 major charging companies so that buyers can use their stations seamlessly, said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet vice president of marketing.

The trucks also offer up to 10 outlets to power power tools on job sites and can go from zero to 60 mph in as little as 4.5 seconds, GM says. Initially, they will tow up to 10,000 pounds and carry up to 1,300 pounds in bed, but later versions will tow up to 20,000 pounds.

GM didn’t give a price for the first working truck, but said the first retail version, the RST, will start at $ 105,000. Lower-priced versions will be available later, starting at just under $ 40,000, roughly the same price as electric trucks from Ford and Tesla.

GM CEO Mary Barra said in her speech to the Consumer Electronics Show that a small $ 30,000 Chevy Equinox SUV on the same foundations will arrive in 2023, as will a slightly larger Blazer SUV.

NO GRID

The electric Silverado lacks the high hood with a huge, wicked-looking grille that accompanies the gas-powered Silverado. Electric vehicles do not need grilles to send air to cool the radiator.

Majoros said GM research has shown the electric version will appeal to existing truck owners, but also new entrants to the segment and electric vehicles. “If you’ve got something that’s specially designed that still has that feeling of strength and confidence but isn’t overdone, I think that’s the right place to be,” he said.

GM says it has the flexibility to make the work and all-terrain versions more muscular.

Inexpensive trucks will be able to travel over 200 miles per charge, but GM would not give the exact number.

The first results show the promise of a large market. Ford says it has 200,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning electric pickup, which will be released this spring. Earlier this week, Ford announced plans to almost double its annual production, ahead of the sale of the first trucks. Tesla is said to have hundreds of thousands of them as well.

President Joe Biden is pushing to convert the vehicle fleet to electric to help meet a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. With automakers, he has set a goal that electric cars and trucks account for half of new vehicles sold by 2030..


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