Tech

The Chevy Silverado pickup is going electric, will have 400-mile range

The Silverado is GM's best selling vehicle.

(Boston, MA 011014) 2014 Chevy Silverado.  (Staff photo by Jim Mahoney) (Photo by Jim Mahoney/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)
MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images/MediaNews Group/Getty Images

General Motors will make an all-electric version of the Chevy Silverado pickup truck, the company’s most popular vehicle. The electric Silverado will get around 400 miles of range on a charge, according to the automaker’s announcement.

Today’s press release is only three short paragraphs and omits any information about pricing or availability. GM says the pickup will be manufactured at its Factory ZERO assembly plant in Hamtramck, Michigan.

Factory ZERO is the same plant where GM intends to manufacture its all-electric Hummer SUV and Hummer pickup trucks. Those vehicles are set to pack some impressive specifications that will make them ready for rugged terrains, but they’ll come at a steep price. The electric Hummers will debut at a starting price around $110,000, with later models coming down to $80K sometime around 2024. Both are expected to be released around the end of 2021.

GM recently unveiled the redesigned 2022 version of its Bolt EV hatchback and the new Bolt EUV, essentially a compact SUV with more legroom than the Bolt EV. The Bolt EV is one of the more popular electric cars in America, though Tesla remains the frontrunner by a mile with its mass-market Model 3.

Race to electrify — Pickup trucks are the next big frontier in electrification, and a slew of automakers are racing to bring the first zero-emissions trucks to market. Probably GM’s biggest competitor, Ford, has already announced an electric F-150 set to launch next year, and Tesla continues to work on its Cybertruck with a release this year or early in 2022. Rivian, which has begun making electric vans for Amazon, is set to ship its R1T pickup later this year. There was also, of course, Nikola, which GM briefly partnered with to manufacture an electric pickup before that company ran into a wall.

Consumers want trucks — Trucks and SUVs are the most popular types of vehicles in the United States, and making them electric could provide a real boost to the clean energy movement. The vehicles will need to be close enough in price to existing trucks, and provide some improvement over existing combustion engine variants. The Biden administration’s new infrastructure plan includes a proposal to expand nationwide electric charging stations, which could convince more consumers to make the switch.

New vehicles like the all-electric Mustang Mach-E and now the EV Chevy Silverado will surely begin to chip away at Tesla’s dominance in America (as competitors have in Europe). But it will no doubt remain a large player in the electric cars, especially as it offers its customers unique value like access to its Supercharger network and cutting-edge (yet controversial) driving features like Autopilot. The build quality of its vehicles and its unreliable customer service have long been a concern, which could become a bigger issue.

No more status quo — Legacy automakers are feeling pressure from legislators who are working to phase out gas-vehicles in the coming decades. The Biden administration is expected to impose similar mandates as California, which wants to phase out new sales of combustion cars by 2035. GM itself fought California’s emissions standards during the Trump administration before quickly backing down after President Biden was elected. It’s no surprise — switching electric car platforms is expensive. GM is spending $2 billion to retool its Hamtramck factory for electric vehicle production.