What Do We Actually Know About the Electric Chevrolet Silverado? Very Little

GM released its first official teaser for its upcoming electric pickup. And it's truly just a tease.

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado. GM sold 586,675 in 2020.
The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado. GM sold 586,675 in 2020. .


The electric Chevrolet Silverado (which will have a GMC Sierra variant) is an important vehicle for General Motors, and so far we know very little about it. In the marketplace, it will be up against the Ford F-150, which in its fossil fuel version is the longtime bestselling vehicle in the U.S. 

And Ford impressed everyone with the F-150 Lightning (the electric one), with 230 miles of range, power for work sites (and your house in a blackout), and a $40,000 bottom line that will get reduced by the available $7,500 income tax credit. 

So what do we know about the Silverado? Not much, as it happens. Information is coming out in a slow dribble. GM said early on that it would have a 400-mile range from Ultium batteries and be built in the same plant that will produce the Hummer EV. But it’s unclear if there will be versions with a smaller price tag and lower range.

“I can’t elaborate on how we will segment it out, but there will be fleet and retail variants,” says Kyle Suba, Chevrolet Silverado communications. “We’re excited about the offering.”

On Wednesday, Chevrolet said the Silverado electric pickup will be available with four-wheel steering and 24-inch wheels, enabling it to “drive circles around the competition.” Nice, but hardly the key to the success of the vehicle. Here’s a look at that on video:

Pricing is key, and here GM is challenged. It can’t get the aforementioned income tax credit because (a nice problem to have) because, like Tesla, it’s sold more than 200,000 electric vehicles. The Hummers are all much more expensive than the Lightning, with prices starting at $79,995. The Hummer SUV Edition 1 will start at a whopping $105,595. This is what The New York Times meant when it said EVs aren’t affordable. The Tesla Cybertruck is surprisingly affordable if buyers can get over its avant-garde looks. It’s also been delayed until next year

Truck buyers are used to paying steep prices for them. The Silverado does pretty well, and 586,675 (LD and HD combined) were sold in the U.S. in 2020. It was the truck’s best year since 2016, and its best crew-cab year ever. GM has been gaining full-sized pickup market share on Ford and Dodge. 

“Pickups like the Silverado are incredibly popular,” says Bradley Berman, founder of PlugInCars.com and a contributor to the electrek site. “So having a pure electric version will be a huge step ahead for bringing EVs to everyday consumers. It will demonstrate how ultra-clean, all-electric powertrains can serve the needs of pickup drivers who use them for work, family duties and fun. An electric Silverado will do wonders for introducing EVs to an entirely new segment of the auto market.”

But Berman cautions, “There are a handful of automakers introducing electric pickup trucks at about the same time. Pricing should be competitive, and GM will need to come close to the Ford F-150 EV’s sticker of around $40,000.”

According to Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst for e-mobility at Guidehouse Insights in Detroit, “Yes, the Silverado and the Sierra will have a high bar to clear, but that is always the case in the extremely competitive full-size pickup truck segment.”

He adds, “Ford will have the head start among the legacy truck makers with an electric and Ford has piled on a lot of features that its potential customers (both commercial and retail) will likely find very valuable such as all the power outlets, emergency backup power and the power-operated hood for the surprisingly large front trunk.”

GM’s ace in the hole is its Ultium batteries, which could give the company a range advantage—with a big edge in long-distance towing. Abuelsamid thinks a Silverado with a 200-kilowatt-hour battery could have more than the advertised 400 miles of range—which translates to about 200 miles when towing a big load. 

Ford is so far offering the Lightning only as a crew cab with two-motor all-wheel drive. If GM goes with a more affordable single-motor RWD regular cab, it could grab some commercial market share at the entry level. 

All this is speculation, of course. As noted, GM has said very little about the Silverado and its Sierra twin.