By on October 7, 2021

All-electric pickup trucks are easily one of the strangest new vehicle segments of the day. Designed to appeal to a demographic of American motorists that normally wouldn’t give EVs a second glance, they’ve probably managed to get more tech nerds interested in pickups than anything else. Leathery dudes who have labored outdoors their entire lives remain dubious that fuel-deprived products will make ideal working vehicles. But there are outliers and their younger (or wealthier) counterparts seem much more willing to entertain the marketing push behind the sudden onslaught of bedded electrics. And one wonders where these trucks are supposed to belong.

On Thursday, General Motors announced that the Chevrolet Silverado EV will be making its official debut at CES 2022 — a venue that has become synonymous with highfalutin electrics both real and imagined. With traditional automotive trade shows being canceled left-and-right over pandemic fears, the event formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show may have been Chevy’s best option. But it also opens up questions about what kind of customer is being targeted by the manufacturer.

While some all-electric trucks are obviously toys for people with more money than sense, others are clearly intended to be capable models with more than a few unique features made possible through electrification. Though we cannot forget that combustion pickups (and SUVs) have gradually become the de facto American luxury car, despite also managing to adhere to their humble origins. If you want a stout gizmo hauler for under $30,000, it’s available. But those seeking a lavishly appointed interior, meaty engine, and supple suspension can take the same vehicle with all the trimmings for a substantially higher MSRP.

It’s sort of the same story with electrics, just on a tighter timeline and less platform overlap. Originally framed as the economical solution to mankind’s need for combustible fuel, EVs have become fashionable automotive accessories with over half the segment averaging price tags in excess of $55,000.

When viewed as playthings designed to help early adopters flex on their neighbors, something like the Tesla Cybertruck or GMC Hummer EV SUT makes a lot more sense. But vehicles, like the upcoming Ford F-150 Lightning and Chevrolet Silverado EV, are clearly supposed to bridge the gap between trendy luxury products and a legitimate working companion that’s ready to haul around livestock and lumber.

Chevy’s choice to show its wares at CES kind of muddies the water. Though they were already clouded by pickups and utilities adopting things like panoramic glass roofs (which the upcoming Silverado will also offer) and massaging leather seats. The Rivian RT1 has been praised for its on-road performance, impressive versatility, novel design, and surplus of unique features — all of which were made possible by its electric powertrain. But it’s one of the first EVs to use the pickup body style and clearly designed to appeal to well-heeled, environmental types that visit REI on the weekends and own luxury cabins as their second home.

The Silverado, like Ford’s Lightning, was rumored to be targeting commercial fleets and the kind of people who knowingly buy pickups to beat them to death. But that might be some marketing magic on the part of the manufacturer, especially when GM has opted to display the all-electric Silverado at a locale famous for featuring hypothetical flying taxi services and vaporware automobiles, while simultaneously providing an outlet for companies to share their utopian visions of society.

All of this pertained to GM, which had CEO Mary Barra using the CES 2021 keynote as an opportunity to discuss an all-electric future where vehicles are perpetually connected to each other and flying luxury drones become the norm.

“At General Motors, our vision for the future is a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” she told last year’s virtual audience. “The key to unlock that vision is electrification. The electrification of global transportation can help reduce emissions and power the advanced systems and connectivity between vehicles and transportation infrastructure to help reduce congestion and crashes.”

Barra could be correct. But the current state of EVs hasn’t convinced me of anything and General Motors’ decision to stick with CES still makes me worry that the Silverado EV isn’t being taken seriously as a mainstream product. Ford revealed the Lightning itself, which is something Chevrolet could likewise do if it didn’t feel compelled to use the Las Vegas venue.

Then again, CES has gradually been supplanting traditional automotive trade events. We’ve even seen pricy gasoline models, like the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, start appearing at the show — and it has been the dominant outlet for previewing autonomous technologies for years. Heck, John Deere has a booth. Perhaps the trade shows of yesterday are simply becoming passé and underserving of the time and money invested by the industry. Maybe the perpetual cancellation of in-person activities has simply made when and where you showcase a vehicle irrelevant. But I’m worried that the Silverado EV is going to have a big debut at CES before swiftly being directed to the back of the bus and promptly forgotten about.

What does the readership think? Am I overthinking the relevance of the event or does the B&B likewise wonder if CES is the best venue for a mainstream electric pickup?

[Image: General Motors]

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37 Comments on “Confusing Choices: Chevrolet Silverado EV to Debut at CES 2022...”


  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    If there were still auto shows at which a manufacturer could debut its product, I suspect the Silverado EV would have debuted at one.
    Lacking auto shows, they chose the next best thing.
    Seems pretty straightforward.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    “Any port in a storm,” as they say. If CES is the subject of people’s attention, then by all means, let’s show at CES.

    GM is desperately trying to redirect people’s attention and association away from the fact that, for decades and despite government bailouts, it continues to make, for the most part, mediocre vehicles. Why is that the Koreans, with no vehicle heritage worth talking about more than — at most — 40 years can make a slew of vehicles that not only are successful in the US market but also enjoy favorable reviews?

    What makes anyone think that GM, with a long history of mediocrity is suddenly going to succeed at making leading-edge vehicles (i.e. EVs)? The early returns are not great. The Volt was a bust; and the Bolt likes to catch on fire.

    As an American, I truly wish it were not so; but after more than 50 years of watching “Detroit” fail to respond meaningfully (except by lobbying the government for protection) to foreign competition, that’s what I see.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I think this is only partly about electrification and partly about a more general trend in the auto industry. The greasy bits of cars and trucks have converged in a lot of ways, not just in EVs, but in gas cars too. Consumers are increasingly choosing based on in-car electronics, and so the car market is behaving more like a consumer electronics market. That’s not a good trend for automakers at all—the consumer electronics business is a brutal one unless you can achieve an Apple-like level of brand equity—but GM is certainly responding to it.

    As for the audience for these electric trucks, it’s a bit of everything. They’re going to be extremely attractive to fleets, which will have a side effect of showing some blue-collar buyers how they’ll work well as personal vehicles. But they’re also going to go after the most adventurous of the mainstream truck buyers, and also some of the nerds too. They need to get people exposed to the product, to help the population at large lose its fear of electric vehicles in time to meet regulatory mandates. They’ll take anyone who’s interested.

  • avatar
    statikboy

    Actual “environmental types” don’t have second homes.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      A lot of us have towable campers.

      That’s one way to get out and enjoy the environment we’re trying to preserve.

      Now, if only conservatives would conserve some habitat so they can hunt & fish in it, we could all get along. Alas, their leaders seem to be against this in recent decades, so we’re obligated to fight about it. [Facepalm]

      • 0 avatar
        kcflyer

        Most of the lost habiatat I see here in NY in the last decade is do to solar farms being being built. I friend who plans projects for a local electric utility expalined that the land cannot be used for at least 25 years after the solar panels are removed. So even the libs that run NY understand that the toxins from the solar panels will likely leak into the soil and ground water over time. But hey, at least we destroy mountains to harvest the quartz, and use tons of coal to mix with the quartz, and tons more to run the arc furnaces where the quartz is melted. And sure, those panels will only produce electric flow around 25 percent of the time and will have to be supplemented by petro powered plants that are being torn down so…..But yeah, conservatives are the problem.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @kcflyer: “Most of the lost habiatat I see here in NY in the last decade is do to solar farms being being built.”

          That’s not true. Give us a break. I’ve not seen that in New York and looking through publications on NYS habitat conservation mentions nothing about solar farms.

          “I friend who plans projects for a local electric utility expalined that the land cannot be used for at least 25 years ”

          Completely untrue. Plenty of studies show that there is no leaching of materials from solar panels.

          http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.558.4686&rep=rep1&type=pdf

          “the land cannot be used for at least 25 years after the solar panels are removed. ”

          Ever heard of agrivoltaics?

          youtube.com/watch?v=u_hRm-WFM1M

          https://www.futurity.org/agrivoltaics-farming-solar-panels-2152772/

          https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-06-08/energy-and-food-together-under-solar-panels-crops-thrive

          https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/11/10/dual-use-solar-farms-agrivoltaics-massachusetts

          https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/23/farming-and-solar-power-set-to-combine-in-netherlands-based-pilot.html

          https://agsci.oregonstate.edu/newsroom/sustainable-farm-agrivoltaic

          https://civileats.com/2019/01/22/agrivoltaics-solar-panels-on-farms-could-be-a-win-win/

          https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2020/0423/A-new-vision-for-farming-Chickens-sheep-and-solar-panels

          ” we destroy mountains to harvest the quartz,”

          Really? Where has that happened? It there a big gap in the Rockies now that I didn’t know about?

          • 0 avatar
            kcflyer

            Call the Niagara county legislature, call the NY State D.E.C., Call National Grid. Ask them why landowners cannot use the sites of Solar Fields for ag purposes for decades AFTER the panels are gone by law. Then watch planet of the humans. I despise michael moore but the secquence in the movie where the production of solar panels is discussed is most informative. It explains the mining of quartz and the process of turning it into the glass used in the panels. I fly over this area sevaral times a week. I see firsthand the clear cutting of forest and destruction of farmland for taxpayer subsidized solar fields. Read the ingreadients list in those panels. Ask yourself if you want that stuff in your water or food. Meanwhile, for a fraction of the footprint, a Nuclear power plant could produce emissions free, reliable and safe power for decade after decade. But no, lets destroy hundreds of acres to produce a fraction of the power but only when the sun shines. Never mind that the hyrdo power plant at the Niagara river produces more power than western NY can use. Nooo, keep destroying the land for solar. Thats the point, it’s liberal destruction of the enviroment in the name of “green”.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            ” Read the ingreadients list in those panels. Ask yourself if you want that stuff in your water or food. Meanwhile, for a fraction of the footprint, a Nuclear power plant could produce…”

            Let me see if I get this straight…you’re super-concerned about the materials in solar panels ARGUABLY leaching into the ground because you saw it in a Michael Moore movie, but you’re totally down with a nuclear plant that can produce a Chernobyl/Fukushima style catastrophe.

            Wow.

            How ’bout this: if those solar fields you’re talking about go wrong, a huge part of northern New York state isn’t going to be rendered uninhabitable for 400 years. And, oh, yeah…the waste has to be buried until the end of time and no one wants the burial site in their backyard.

            But, hey, Michael Moore thinks the stuff in solar panels MIGHT be harmful, so solar is bad, bad, bad, bad.

            Okay…

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @FreedMike – I guess since Michael Moore is a lefty slagging something typically on the left side of the spectrum then that must mean it’s irrefutable proof that said thing’s’ are bad.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Am I overthinking the relevance of the event…”

    Yep.

    But we’ve become accustomed to this site overreacting to things like monochromatic logos.

    Noodling over where this truck will be introduced misses the point. The acid test will be whether the buying public accepts it or not. I think they will. And I really don’t care what segment of the buying public – be it “Joe the Plumber” or “green types” – is doing the accepting. Electric pickups are going to sell.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I’m going to buy an electric pickup to tow my travel trailer.

      I lose 50% of my MPGs when I tow my TT. I hate burning that much gasoline. I’d rather double my kWhs/Mile when towing my TT, since electricity comes from a wide variety of sources (most of which pollute less than a portable gasoline engine).

      Also, I’m looking forward to charging at campgrounds. Leaving the campground with a fullish battery in the morning is a win. Using the truck to power the camper while boondocking is also a big win, though kind of an opposite situation. Both would have been useful on or last major RV trip.

      The Rivian R1T with the “Max Power” battery option will work for my purposes and fits my budget (after my most recent job-upgrade), so GM, Ford, and Tesla need to beat that truck for my business.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        With current gas and electric powertrains, even the very dirtiest electricity in the US will give you close to double the carbon efficiency of gas. If you’re towing short distances, EV towing will be a big environmental win.

        My very conservative brother-in-law is interested in electric pickups for this very reason. He has a fishing boat, which he tows a few miles from a storage unit to the lake every time he uses it.

    • 0 avatar
      kcflyer

      Demonizing nuclear is nothing new for leftys. But the facts don’t support your fear campaign. Nuclear is clean, it is safer than all other forms of of energy production save hydro. Pro tip, don’t let communist goverments build your nuc plant. Also maybe don’t build on the beach a few miles from a major fault line. But keep repeating the lies and disimformaition. Keep clamoring for EV fleets while at same time destroying our electric production system and replacing it with non reneable, unreliable and enviromentally destructive solar and wind. Maybe someday we can run a big extension cord from China to the U.S. The chicoms are all to happy to buy our decomissioned coal plants and use them to power their economy as it gradually overtakes ours.

  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    I’d love to have an electric car — quieter, fewer parts, simpler to drive without gears (I drove a 1986 MR2 for 29 years, stick shift beats a slushbox, but I’d like no gears even better).

    My main worry is those damned batteries. If it runs out, I can’t (hitch-)hike down the road and bring back a gallon of gas. And the batteries drain even when not being driven, which bugs me no end — if I go off on a one month vacation, I’d worry about the dang thing draining itself, even though I know they don’t self-drain that fast.

    A friend wanted to start a motorcycle based road patrol for AAA and the like. A gallon of gas in one saddle bag, a battery and jumper cables in the other, and a few basic tools. He ran into too many burrocratic hurdles. But how the heck could he even think about doing that for EVs?

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Surprisingly, it’s not completely impossible. It takes a bit of finagling, but you could actually carry a generator with enough output to charge on 120V. Only for emergency purposes, of course (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf6WgQfL7DY&t=239s)

      • 0 avatar
        ScarecrowRepair

        That’s no good. I have one of those Honda generators, it’s a fine generator. But it weighs 48 pounds empty and would be a tight fit in any motorcycle saddle bag I’m familiar with, far more so than a simple gallon of gas.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The only EVs that self-drain their batteries are Teslas.

      My former 12 Leaf and current 19 Ioniq do not do that.

      • 0 avatar
        ScarecrowRepair

        I did not know that. I know from experience that Lithium batteries drain remarkably fast in phones, laptops, power banks, hotspots, vacuum cleaners, shavers, and all sorts of consumer appliances. What do Leaf and the Ioniq do differently that Tesla does not?

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          There are steps you can take to minimize vampire drain. If you do, a Tesla will only lose a mile or two a day. If I’m gone for a long period, I just leave my car plugged in next to my plugged-in ICE cars with their maintenance chargers. If I’m gone for a long period, there’s no way I’m leaving the car in an airport lot tracking up fees, so it’s going to stay home.

          ” Lithium batteries drain remarkably fast in phones,”

          I have a newer phone and its battery lasts a day. That’s not bad, at least to me. My shaver lasts a couple of weeks and my watch lasts just over a week. My laptop lasts an hour, but it is capable of running 16 threads in parallel, has an NVidia GPU, and 4TB of SSD storage. I just measured the temperature of the air coming out the back and it’s 110 degrees F. It uses a lot of power. I do have two 4AH power banks if I need to travel. And yes, that’s amp hours.

          So, modern devices can last a long time if they are newer devices that (and here’s the important part) use newer battery technology and chemistries that EVs use. The newer devices and EVs also use improved battery management. The power packs I use actually have a fan in their charger that cools them while charging. EVs have liquid cooling systems that help manage battery temps that enable quicker charging and increase life. There is also newer electrode technology in the batteries.

          If you’re worried, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until you are comfortable with the technology. It’s advancing so fast I’m even holding off on buying my next EV until the advancements slow down a bit. So, learn all you can and watch as the technology advances and infrastructure improves. You’ll know when it’s right for you. Don’t rush into it.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @ScarecrowRepair:

          If you are referring to degradation due to aging, that’s a different story, and definitely worth considering.

          Lithium ion cell capacity degrades badly when the battery is kept at a high state of charge, and/or deep cycled. If you want to destroy a lithium ion battery, just keep it plugged in.

          Car mfrs have learned to reserve a fraction of the pack capacity that is never filled when new, but this portion is gradually consumed as the battery ages. This allows a “100%” charge to still appear that way for a long time. My 12 Leaf had almost no reserve, and its battery lost 15% capacity in 3 years. My Ioniq has about 10% reserve built in; 3 years in, its state of health remains 100%. But, I’m careful to only fill it to 80% most of the time, except for longer drives.

          However, in daily use, you really only have about 60% of the battery capacity available, since 20% off the top and bottom are best for its health, and that’s with temperate weather and normal driving. Mfrs don’t like to discuss these things, though.

          Apart from Tesla’s vampire drain (which is much reduced today, except for its use of Sentry mode), Tesla offers the least degradation of any EV mfr, I think.

          As mcs indicates, there are many nuances to battery-powered cars that should be considered. Nobody should jump in without doing some homework, but I found it to be worth doing for my lifestyle.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Most EVs have regenerative braking. You can charge them with a tow-strap in a pinch.

      (EVs go into limp home mode before the battery is fully is depleted, to avoid damaging the battery by over-discharging it.)

      Also, the Rivian truck is supposed to have a vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) charging mode, intended for trail-rescue — but it would just the same beside a major highway.

      Having seen the Rivian truck in person, it’s a $67k Toyota Tacoma EV with a Jeep Grand Cherokee interior and really good storage (3 trunks + truck bed). It looks like a very livable vehicle and I want one. I don’t know if its the best EV pick up yet, but it’s certainly a very good truck — but only if a Tacoma/4Runner/JGC would work for your lifestyle.

  • avatar
    Socrates77

    GM likes to use the CES show to get people to give them money on their worthless stock. They got nothing to offer they will always play catch up because there is no visionaries at GM. Only old greedy share holders. Can’t wait until the F150 lightning begins to sell next year. That will be GM’s fall.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “Leathery dudes who have labored outdoors their entire lives remain dubious that fuel-deprived products will make ideal working vehicles.”

    Which leathery dudes?

    My oh my.. let’s lean on those stereotypes a bit more.

    Leathery dudes typically aren’t the ones in the office making the fleet buying decisions.

    Electric vehicles will hold up better than ICE vehicles. You don’t need to worry about morons forgetting to change the air filter, oil changes and bad gas.

    I recall many saying Ford was committing suicide by putting turbo V6’s in their pickups. A decade later and they still have the #1 selling truck in USA and Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Ford has indeed done well to continue as the #2 manufacturer of full size trucks, although I suspect Ram is a much closer #3 than before.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @deanst – I take it you subscribe to the “corporate whole” theory of truck sales. Ford gets away with claiming #1 since GM – GMC Sierra counts different than GM – Chevrolet Silverado. You can then lump in Colorado and Canyon. If that is the case then can Ford then lump together F – series, Ranger, and now Maverick? They currently only claim F-series. Years ago this question was placed to GM and they said that legally they had to count Sierra and Silverado as separate brands.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        No doubt the weak availability of Coyote V8s has boosted Ram and GM fullsize pickup sales. I wouldn’t mind a turbo V6 for a short term buy, but I let the truck decide the extent of ownership.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    Auto shows attract auto journalists. They want broader coverage including lifestyle coverage. Auto shows seemed to be fading before COVID if I remember correctly. It makes sense to me.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I as well like the simplicity of the EV motor and no transmission (no gears). Solar and wind alone will not generate enough power to sustain increased electrical demand. I am not against solar and wind use it where it is feasible. No one talks about nuclear power or using methane gas from landfills and sewer plants to supplement electrical generation. MIchael Moore’s PLanet of the Humans shows the impracticality of just relying on solar and wind. Hydro power and geothermal energy are other sources. Why do many environmentalist limit power generation to just solar and wind when there are many sources of power that are environmentally sound.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Nuclear power isn’t being turned to because:

      1) The plants are horrifyingly expensive
      2) The waste has to be securely stored in a place that can’t possibly be breached for thousands of years. Not surprisingly, no one wants such a storage facility in their area. Google “Yucca Mountain.”
      3) Fukushima and Chernobyl. Enough said there.

      Building nuclear plants takes a LONG time, and by the time they’re built in sufficient numbers to make a dent, fusion power, which will render fission plants obsolete, will likely be ready.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        There is a lot of work being done with small modular reactors. Some kind of nuclear will be necessary to address ManBearPig, “renewables” don’t scale and have a lot of drawbacks.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Hopefully that addresses some of the issues – I’m not against nuclear per se, just skeptical that people will accept that source of energy being ramped up.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Hydro isn’t an acceptable option these days either. At least in the western US, there are constant debates about breaching what hydro there is for river restoration especially with the continuing droughts. I think we tried methane locally and it works but wasn’t really as large scale viable as they were sold? I think the focus on solar and wind may simply be because they don’t have to get in a fight every time they bring it up.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Well whether it is fusion or smaller scale modular reactors we as a country will not have enough electrical power generation with solar and wind especially if we are going to get off of fossil fuel unless we learn to live with continual brownouts. As for methane gas the Toyota Plant in Georgetown Kentucky uses methane gas from a nearby landfill which does not replace all electrical generation but it adds a significant amount to their power. What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are numerous types of resources available for electrical generation and just limiting ourselves to just 1 or 2 will not be enough to meet our increased demand for electricity and when we add increased EVs to the mix we will not have nearly enough electricity. We are one of the richest countries in the World when it comes to resources and it doesn’t make sense to limit ourselves. I will not get an EV until they are more affordable, battery technology improves, the infrastructure improves and there is enough electrical generation to meet increased electrical demand which presently we do not have especially in states like California.

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