DETROIT, Sep 9 (Reuters) – General Motors Co (GM.N) will be giving its best-selling Chevrolet Silverado large pickup truck models a makeover next spring to address competitive imperfections that have put Chevy third in one of the world’s most lucrative vehicle segments.
Catching up with competing trucks from Stellantis NV (STLA.MI) and Ford Motor Co (FN), in 2022 most Silverado models will get larger dashboard screens and new connectivity technology with built-in Google voice commands and software.
Chevrolet will also add a 420-horsepower Silverado ZR2, which is designed for rugged off-road adventures – or to make it seem like the owner would have it. The Silverado ZR2 will chase Ford’s F-Series Raptor and Stellantis’ Ram TRX, which are eye-catching performance models for these brands.
The current Silverado, which came on the market in early 2019, was surpassed in sales by the Ram pickup from competitor Stellantis NV. The 2018 Ram received a makeover with a refined interior and a 12-inch (30.5 cm) dashboard screen that was closer to the style of a Tesla (TSLA.O) Model S sedan as a conventional pickup.
The Fiat Chrysler unit of what is now Stellantis also expanded Ram pickup manufacturing capabilities in North America. to oust the Chevy Silverado as the No. 2 brand in the North American pickup segment.
That strategy – led by Mike Manley, now head of Stellantis North America – worked. By the first half of 2021, Rams pickups had surpassed the Silverado and, according to sales data compiled by Automotive News, are now in second place behind Ford’s F-series trucks, the best-selling model range in the US for more than 40 years.
Steve Carlisle, head of GM’s North American business, told Reuters that GM has learned from Ram’s challenge. “You have to be very agile and react,” he said. “And maybe you ask different kinds of questions.”
Going forward, Carlisle sees the market moving from “bigger is better” in dashboard displays to more emphasis on improving the user experience.
Carlisle said his goal for the redesigned Silverado was to oust Ford from the top spot in the segment.
“We’re not going to rest until that happens,” he said, although he added, “we’re going to do the right thing from a brand perspective.”
Ram and Ford have their own upgrades for 2022. Ram trucks will receive improved infotainment systems. Ford is promoting and promoting a hybrid system available for the F-150 pickup that can power a home fully electric F-150 Lightning is coming next spring.
The new Silverados receive further new technologies. The redesigned trucks will be the largest application of GM’s partnership with Alphabet Inc (GoogL.O) Google to create a more smartphone-like experience in cars. And top-of-the-line Silverados will optionally offer GM’s Super Cruise system to enable hands-free driving on more than 200,000 miles (321,869 km) of roads in Canada and the United States.
The Silverado ZR2 responds to a more traditional form of automotive competition. Powerful pickup trucks equipped with tall, stout suspensions and other modifications to tackle races over rough deserts or jumping sand dunes are the 21st century answer to Detroit’s 1960s muscle cars. Ford and Ram had developed models for extreme off-road enthusiasts. Chevy doesn’t. Now it will.
Carlisle said that 60% of the Chevrolet Silverados sold now are “lift trucks” with high suspensions. The Silverado ZR2 will add a 420 hp eight-cylinder petrol engine to the formula. Carlisle said the ZR2 could account for more than 10% of Silverado sales.
Ford’s Raptor has a starting price of nearly $ 66,000. Carlisle said the Chevrolet ZR2 will be “more accessible” with a lower starting price.
Reporting by Joe White in Detroit Editing by Matthew Lewis
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.