It’s hard not to embrace the benefits of an electric pickup: low maintenance, lower fuel costs, instant torque, improved handling particularly while towing, exportable power and zero emissions.
But range, charging infrastructure cost, long charge times and higher upfront costs understandably pose concerns for fleets.
Chevy has worked hard to address those concerns with the 2024 Chevy Silverado EV Work Truck and save for the high upfront cost relative to internal combustion, it’s making some notable strides.
A media event in Michigan recently gave reporters, including this one, a chance to get more familiar with Chevy’s first full size all-electric truck.
Some may recall Chevy’s first foray into battery-powered pickups roughly 25 years ago. The all-electric midsize S-10 entered the market for fleets in California in the late 1990s. The first version for model year 1997 offered 44 miles of range with lead acid batteries. The 1998 model jumped up to 95 miles thanks to nickel-metal hydride chemistry. Both trucks came with an electric dump bed. Pretty cool.
The interior of the 2024 Chevy Silverado EV Work Truck is fairly plain save for its two displays.Tom QuimbyNow Chevy is offering 450 miles of range with its 2024 Silverado EV Work Truck thanks to its Ultium battery. That’s the first iteration. A less-expensive 350-mile work truck is scheduled to roll out later this year along with a luxury-minded 2024 RST First Edition that will offer 400 miles. Trail Boss will follow next year. Sorry, there’s no dump bed in store for any of those models, and there’s a solid reason for that.
Engineers explained that the Ultium battery is an integral part of the construction of the Silverado EV, which puts it into the unibody category and paves the way for more cells and more power. But with that added power comes added weight. Curb weight for the 450-mile variant is roughly 8,000 pounds, which makes it a Class 2 truck. While that does improve handling, especially while towing, its extra weight adds up to higher registration fees at the DMV.
To help the transition to EV ownership easier, Chevy is encouraging fleets to turn to its 220-volt Level II charger for overnight charging at the yard, which avoids the extra cost and infrastructure changes that come with DC fast-charging.
While on the road, drivers can turn to the company’s Ultium Charge 360 initiative and mobile apps that will provide access to 134,000 chargers, plus an additional 12,000 Tesla Superchargers.
Given the Silverado’s EV can handle an impressive 350 kW charge rate (Ford Lightning lags behind at 150kW), the truck can add 100 miles in 10 minutes through DC fast-charging.
Keep in mind that DC fast-charging is more expensive. Following an 800-mile road trip with the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, fast-charging cost 32 cents per kWh while 220-volt overnight AC charging dropped down to 8 cents per kWh. That was Florida. Prices will vary depending on location and time of day that you charge.
Charging overnight during off-peak times results in a less expensive rate and, in the case of the Lightning, will provide a 100% charge versus the max 90% charge through fast-charging. The Silverado EV, on the other hand, can take a 100% charge regardless of charger type. Silverado EV chief engineer Nicole Kratz said she and other engineers who have been testing the truck have consistently reached 450 miles on a full charge and beyond. We could only reach 288 miles on a 100% charge with the Lightning and not the 320 miles advertised with the extended-range battery pack. Ford noted that past driving habits such as towing and highway driving will impact the overall range average. For the uninitiated, that’s a tough transition coming from internal combustion where every fill-up brings the vehicle back to full range.
Besides costing less, AC overnight charging is easier on the battery, which is something to keep in mind for vehicle life and resale value. After all, telematics can reveal overall battery health, which is at the heart of every EV.
Ready, set, tow!
It would have been tough for Chevy to have picked a more scenic venue for its towing test. Valley Farm in Ann Arbor provides an inviting barn scene amid acres of vibrant farmland for family reunions, weddings and, in our case, test drives.
Reporters arrived at the farm following a roughly 54-mile drive from our hotel on mostly two-lane country roads. We swapped seats halfway to allow for equal drive time. The trip was mostly uneventful: predictably smooth and quiet with the most impressive moments coming from curves where the truck performed remarkably well with its low center of gravity.
Put the junk in the frunk. Nine cubic feet of storage in the frunk of the 2024 Chevy Silverado EV Work Truck easily accommodated two carry-on suitcases so long as we positioned them on their sides.Tom QuimbyTowing was more impressive, and that’s important since the crew cab is designed to be a work truck. Once at The Valley, I got behind the wheel of another Silverado EV Work Truck that was hitched to a 16-foot dual-axle flatbed topped with a John Deere tractor that Chevy said amounted to a 9,000-pound load. Max towing is rated at 10,000 pounds.
Right from the start, towing was smooth and easy. Remember, this is the equivalent of a Class 2 truck that’s rated at 510 horsepower and 615 pound-feet of torque. Having access to instant torque makes a nice difference from a dead stop and when taking on inclines.
With up to 14 camera views, including two plug-in options near the hitch that provide increased trailer visibility, it’s hard not to feel comfortable towing. Most of the credit though goes to the overall handling of the truck. It feels like the trailer is a natural extension of the truck. "It drives smaller" was a comment that came up more than once among reporters. Part of that roughly 12-mile journey took us off-road on dry dirt roads where the truck showed off its suspension a few times by quickly taming bumps and dips.
Power management and consumption are where the truck really stood out for me. It didn’t have the concerning range recalculations that I kept getting with the F-150 Lightning, and more important, it provided much more range.
I started towing with 150 miles of range. At the end of that run, the digital display was showing 139 miles of range with a 55% state of charge. Lightning provided 122 miles of range at a 100% state of charge for a lighter 6,000-pound load. Big difference.
Brake regen is a big help in terms of energy conservation. There are three settings on the electric Silverado to choose from: off, standard and high. I like using the high setting to recoup as much energy as possible, especially while towing.
An energy meter on the dash shows how much power you’re gaining back while slowing down. For a long, smooth stop, just gradually ease off the accelerator. For a quicker stop, back off the accelerator faster, and the truck will come to a faster stop. Of course, you can always use the brake pedal, which I rarely had to do during my time with the truck.
The high brake regen setting will lunge you forward if you let up on the accelerator too quickly. For me it’s an interesting challenge to master brake regen. It reminds me of mastering downshifting with a manual transmission as you approach a stop.
A 10-mile trip the previous day had really showed just how much brake regen shines. While driving an unloaded electric Silverado on city streets, the high brake regen setting went to work in stop-and-go traffic to keep the range meter barely moving from 372 to 370 miles for the entire run. Granted, you won’t get the same performance during highway driving unless you’re up against frequent traffic jams that requires a lot of stopping and going. And if you’re not a fan of using the high setting of brake regen, you won’t regain as much energy.
Spartan-plus work truck
The interior of the 2024 Chevy Silverado EV Work Truck is fairly basic save for the digital displays, which are a quick reminder of its all-electric pedigree.
The 11-inch center and 8-inch driver displays are easy enough to navigate except for the truck’s off button. It’s a small icon about ¼-inch in diameter at the top of the center display that you have to hunt for since it’s lined up with other similar sized icons.
The rear seats lock up in place to reveal plenty of floor space and bins for more storage.Tom QuimbyI’m not sure how much GM saved by avoiding a larger button on the dash, but it comes across like one of those frustrating cost-cutting measures that makes the off button appear like a hasty afterthought. Once you press the icon, a message pops up on the screen asking if you’d like to proceed with the shutdown. At that point you can either turn off the truck or cancel.
The floor looks sturdy enough and appears to be made from a rubber-like material prepared to handle plenty of muddy boots and coffee mishaps.
While the manually adjustable chairs are comfortable, they will not lift up, which was a little odd when I first got in. At 5 feet 10 inches, I’m not exactly the tallest or shortest driver out there, but in the electric Silverado, I felt too low in the seat.
The seat presents a good amount of cushioning, and the chair back felt comfortable too. Faux leather provides a nice look and appears ready to handle a tough workday.
Below the center console is a cubby where you’ll find two USB C plugins and a 12-volt round plug. Passengers in the rear have two USB C plugins alongside a 12-volt round plug on the back of the center console. I couldn’t find any charge ports inside the center console.
The back seat lifts up and locks in place to provide generous floor space and access to cubbies for more storage. Drink holders are plentiful throughout, but I didn’t see one large enough to handle a quart size bottle.
We didn’t have a chance to utilize the bed, which has a max payload rating of 1,440 pounds. It can be optioned with a spray-in bedliner and a hard or soft tonneau.
The frunk provides impressive space for additional storage. In this case, another reporter and I stowed our carry-on luggage. The hood unfortunately did not lift up after depressing the unlock button on the key fob. We had to manually lift it each time. The hood will automatically rise on the RST.
Exportable power is delivered through seven outlets with the standard option of 7.2 kW of offboard power. Upgrade to 10.2 kW of power and get up to 10 outlets with the accessory power bar.
The 2024 Chevy Silverado EV Work Truck offers the strongest case yet for a full-size electric pickup. However, for all the impressive capability and features the truck has to offer, it’s the price that’s truly disappointing. Citing supply chain challenges, Chevy announced that its first full size electric pickup, the WT4, will start at $77,905 plus destination. The 350-mile WT3 model will start at $72,905, and the RST First Edition with a 400-mile range will start at $105,000.
In addition to offering lower maintenance and energy costs over internal combustion, Chevy pointed out that qualifying fleets can take advantage of the current $7,500 federal tax credit. Plus, with the push for companies to cut emissions, Chevy noted that its truck will appeal to fleets that are earnestly dialed in on sustainability goals.
With battery chemistry and charging technology ever improving, electric pickups are here to stay, and Chevy appears to have taken them to the next level, particularly in terms of greater range and faster charging. Of course, all things being equal, it would be ideal to subject the electric Silverado to the same testing that the Lightning faced here in Florida. You can learn a lot about a truck after a week and a thousand miles.
The 2024 Chevy Silverado RST First Edition which starts at $105K will roll out later this year.Tom Quimby
The 2024 Chevy Silverado RST features a midgate which allows for longer loads. The midgate is not available on the work truck.Tom Quimby
Hay now! Chevy had some fun advertising 10,000 lbs. max towing in the 2024 Silverado EV Work Truck.Tom Quimby