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Here’s what the Hummer EV tells us about the Chevy Silverado EV

It’s a pretty safe bet that the fully electric Chevrolet Silverado that was confirmed on Tuesday—due by the middle of 2023, with a range of more than 400 miles—will look like a Silverado. 

The Silverado is GM’s longtime bestselling pickup nameplate, and one of the top-selling trucks in a market where GM, Ford, and Stellantis hold the advantage. Mid- and full-size pickups make up more than one out of every six U.S. new-vehicle sales.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 diesel

Meanwhile, if you haven’t noticed, pickups evolve very, very slowly. And don’t think the Tesla Cybertruck will alter that course much. Automakers have stagnated in innovation paralysis because so much is at stake. An electric Silverado will need to look like a Silverado, as gasoline versions continue to be built for a long time, but also represent the future. 

It roughly compares to the level of pressure that the team developing the GMC Hummer EV already faced. To pull off the revival of Hummer in an electric vehicle, it needed to create a halo truck that still looked like a Hummer but showed its innovation in its on-road and off-road performance. 

2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV

2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV

Although the Hummer EV is an electric equivalent to body-on-frame trucks, it doesn’t have that layout. Neither will the Silverado EV that GM will build in Hamtramck alongside the Hummer EV lineup. Earlier this week, GMC Hummer EV chief engineer Al Oppenheiser reasoned out why the long-range Chevy electric truck will almost certainly share the Hummer EV platform rather than use the existing Silverado body-on-frame design. 

Working back from the targets—especially range

It’s down to packaging. To get the 350 miles of range anticipated for the Hummer EV SUT pickup—or more than 400 miles for a leaner, less off-road-focused Silverado EV, for instance—the cells needed to reach that range simply wouldn’t fit. 

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV

GM “wouldn’t have been able to stack as many modules between typical truck frame rails,” confirmed Oppenheiser, so they opted for a “structural sandwich” starting with two rectangular plates of steel and two stout-looking side supports that might partly take the place of frame rails. The battery pack also has its own structure, with the front and rear cradle tied off from the front and rear of what’s effectively a frame around the battery. 

“So it’s kind of a blend of body-frame integrated, versus a traditional body-on-frame pickup,” said Oppenheiser. “It allows us to keep our center of gravity low and the mass low, and we can package basically any size module.”

With this layout, as GM pointed out last March at a presentation showcasing its Ultium Battery technology, it can mix or match modules in which cells are packed horizontally or vertically.

How big is that big battery?

Mathematically, based on our notes and what GM has said about its Ultium battery strategy, the modules add up to just under 9 kwh each. The 24-module battery—likely around 213 kwh gross—in the Hummer SUT is the largest possible for the architecture, while the 20-module pack (~178 kwh gross) is the largest offered in the Hummer SUV, and a smaller 16-module pack (~142 kwh gross) is also on offer in the base 2X. 

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV

If GM gives the Silverado EV that largest pack, it would need to accomplish around 2 miles per kwh—a feasible target, potentially. For instance, GM might have the option of making the gearing of the electric motors taller than in the Hummers—roughly a 10.5:1 reduction ratio in back, and 13:1 in front to enable Ludicrous-mode-like Watts To Freedom launches—or of downsizing some of the propulsion systems from the Hummer EV SUV and SUT models’ 830-hp and 1,000-hp ratings, respectively.  

Other “like-segmented vehicles” to come

Although Oppenheiser didn’t mention or confirm the ‘BT1’ program name that’s been reported in recent months, and suggested as the common glue between electric trucks for GMC, Chevy, and Cadillac, he confirmed that the Hummer EV is “the first of other like-segmented vehicles that can come off of it.” 

2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV

2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV

“Our hope is that the Hummer is a halo vehicle for the vehicles that will follow us,” he said, when we asked if a different project or platform will produce other electric trucks. “Our hope is that we use that halo philosophy to get them interested in…the future variants off of this electric truck architecture.”

Even before its launch, we’d venture to say the Hummer EV already has generated a groundswell of interest. Will a Silverado do the same—and perhaps an electric revival of the classic Blazer SUV? 

GM, and the team developing these trucks, still has plenty to test and prove about the towing and hauling ability, and longevity and endurance, in these trucks. Stay tuned as GMC will likely be teasing more of these traits in the Hummer EV this summer. 


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