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NAIAS 2018: Chevrolet teases all-new Silverado pick-up truck

19 December 2017 Stephanie Brinley, MBA

Celebrating 100 years of Chevrolet pick-up trucks, the brand showed one of eight planned Silverado variants, the LT Trailboss, to media and Chevrolet truck owners in Texas on 16 December. A full reveal is due at the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January 2018.

IHS Markit perspective

  • Implications: Chevrolet has teased out initial information and shown one of eight planned variations of the next-generation Silverado pick-up. The new truck retains a traditional truck profile, with a sharp new face and a focus on aerodynamics.
  • Outlook: The 2018 NAIAS is expected to host the introductions of two key US models, the Chevrolet Silverado and the Ram 1500. These are high-volume and high-profit vehicles key to the respective automaker's financial performance. For GM, the Silverado introduces a new platform that will see an annual global sales volume of 1.57 million units in 2025.

Chevrolet is to introduce the all-new 2019 model-year Silverado at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January 2018, but has teased out the truck at an event in Dallas, Texas, on 16 December. The event also celebrated 100 years of Chevrolet trucks; the company says the January 2018 reveal will coincide with the anniversary of the delivery of the first truck from the brand in 1918. The new truck was shown in LT Trailboss trim, which Chevrolet says is one of eight variants of the Silverado that will be available for 2019. Chevrolet promises more engine and transmission combinations with this generation, as well as more technology and convenience features. The LT Trailboss includes off-road equipment from the traditional Z71 package, and a factory two-inch lift kit. The company notes that the lift kit has been fully tested and validated, with warranty, by Chevrolet, unlike aftermarket options.

Aside from the Trailboss variant, Chevrolet confirmed that construction of the new truck will use a mixed materials approach, compared with the aluminium-intensive approach of Ford. Specifically noted was a higher-grade alloy used for the roll-formed, high-strength-steel bed floor. General Motors (GM) promises a lighter and more useful truck bed, although the potential carbon-fibre bed reported earlier is not expected at launch. "This use of mixed materials and advanced manufacturing is evident throughout the Silverado, resulting in a significant reduction in total vehicle weight and improved performance in many measures," a company press release stated. No further technical details were shared, as more will follow in January.

Automotive News quotes Alan Batey, president of GM North America, as saying, "The next-generation Silverado is poised to change, really change, the face of trucks again. It's strong. It's modern. But it's instantly recognizable as a Chevy truck."

Outlook and implications

The NAIAS is expected to host the introductions of two key US models, the Chevrolet Silverado and the Ram 1500. These two products are high-volume and high-profit vehicles key to the respective automaker's financial performance. For GM, the Silverado introduces a new platform that will see an annual global sales volume of 1.57 million units in 2025.

Chevrolet calls the 2019 model-year truck all-new from the ground up, and the new design is striking. However, the grille treatment of the Trailboss is expected to be unique to that variant, as the company is planning more differentiation between Silverado variants than in the past. IHS Markit forecasts sales will begin in the third quarter of 2018 for the light-duty model; the heavy-duty version is expected to go on sale about 12 months later. The Silverado (and its GMC Sierra sibling) move to a new architecture referred to as VSS-T, for vehicle set strategy. The company is moving to a family of modular architectures, with the VSS-T the core body-on-frame layout. Others will include front-drive, rear-drive, and sport utility vehicle (SUV) layouts.

The VSS-T architecture is forecast to be used for both full-size and compact trucks; in North America, this will eventually include the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, due to move to VSS-T in 2022. GM is expected to use the architecture for vehicles in South America (replacing the S-10 and TrailBlazer), ASEAN region (Chevrolet Colorado and TrailBlazer), and Middle East-Africa (Chevrolet T-Series), although production of VSS-T products in these markets is to happen in the next decade. GM's full-size SUVs and heavy-duty pick-ups shift to this architecture first. The full-size SUV family (Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV) follows, with a sales launch in 2020. By 2020, the platform is forecast to see global sales volume of more than 1.0 million units, growing to 1.57 million units in 2025. However, 85% of those sales are forecast to be in the North American region. The Middle East-Africa region is the second largest in terms of consumption of vehicles on this platform, forecast to see annual volume sales in the mid-80,000-unit range. South America and South Asia are forecast to both see annual sales in the mid 60,000-unit range. To date, China has not been a significant market for pick-up trucks generally; this is not forecast to change notably, so the VSS-T products will not see significant volume in that country.

The trucks are core to GM from a profitability standpoint, as well as from a brand and corporate image viewpoint. Full-size pick-ups are largely the domain of GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. While Toyota and Nissan offer full-size truck options, they have not found similar traction in the marketplace. Full-size pick-ups are also largely a US phenomenon, with little sales volume outside of the United States. For GM, these pick-up trucks are currently the most immediately significant products in its range. In 2016, vehicles on the K2XX current full-size truck platform accounted for 18% of GM's global sales. Including SUVs, GM sold 1.27 million vehicles on the K2XX platform in 2016.

Pick-up trucks are a key vehicle for GM, which sold 1.22 million units of pick-up trucks globally in 2016. While there may be some contraction, GM's global pick-up sales are forecast to remain at more than 1.1 million units through 2025.

About this article

The above article is from AutoIntelligence Daily by IHS Markit. AutoIntelligence Daily provides same-day analysis of automotive news, events and trends.​​​​​​ Get a free trial.

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