Which legacy manufacturer can take the fight to Rivian?
We find it quite funny that an electric upstart beat Ford and Chevrolet to the finish line.
The Rivian R1T may have some teething issues, but it was the first EV truck to be launched in America, leaving everyone else to catch up. A month ago, the Ford F-150 Lightning was the main rival to the R1T, but this week Chevy finally unveiled the highly-anticipated Silverado EV.
Ford's offering will arrive sooner, as the Chevy is scheduled to hit dealer floors by fall 2023. At least both legacy manufacturers beat Tesla to the finish line. It seems the Cybertruck has been delayed again, as full-on production becomes less likely by the day.
For now, we'll take a look at how the two legacy EV trucks stack up against each other.
There are currently four existing EV trucks, and all of them have wraparound lighting at the front. This feature is set to become the main differentiator between ICE and EV trucks.
Apart from the wraparound light at the front, Ford and Chevy took different approaches to styling. The Lightning is more pragmatic and uses the same exterior design as the ICE F-150. Ford adds enough model-specific design touches to set it apart from other models.
Chevrolet took a different approach. It has traces of ICE Silverado, but Chevy also leaned into the EV aspect. Instead of a fake grille to make it look more normal, the Silverado EV only has a small air intake below a piece of bodywork where you'd typically find the ICE truck's massive grille. The slim headlights are divisive, but we like them.
From the side, you'll note the floating roof, borrowed straight from the Silverado's more expensive cousin, the Hummer EV. The rear is rather pragmatic, but there's a good reason for this. Chevy used the unique layout of GM's EV architecture to add a healthy dose of practicality.
Both manufacturers use the skateboard platform to create more usable space for the owner. One example is the frunk, though both manufacturers have their own name for it. Roughly translated from marketing speak, it's a trunk under the hood or a front trunk. Therefore, frunk. Chevy didn't provide a figure for its frunk, but it does come with neat little compartments.
Chevrolet does use the unique layout of an EV platform better. It will offer the Multiflex Tailgate as an option. In short, the Silverado's standard five-foot, eleven-inch bed can be extended. The rear seats fold forward in a 60/40 split, and with the tailgate open, it can carry something up to ten feet long. You can tell this truck was designed as an EV from the ground up.
As for towing and hauling, Ford is currently in the lead. The Chevy can tow 8,000 lbs, while the Ford can manage 10,000 lbs. The Ford can carry 2,000 lbs on its back, while the Chevy can only handle 1,200 lbs.
Chevy will introduce a fleet model capable of towing 20,000 lbs, however.
When Ford released the information regarding the Lightning's dual-motor setup, we were impressed. The top-spec Platinum produces 563 hp and 775 lb-ft of torque. Like every other EV out there, it comes with serious performance figures. Ford claims a 0-60 mph time in the mid-4-second range.
Chevy takes it up a notch. The Silverado uses GM's Ultium EV platform. It's essentially a scalable EV platform that offers various power outputs and drivetrain configurations. For the Silverado, Chevy did not go all the way to what the system is capable of producing, but 664 hp and 780 lb-ft is still pretty rad. The workhorse trucks will only have 510 hp and 615 lb-ft, however. How can you not love EVs? We're talking supercar power in a truck.
The Silverado RST, the top-spec model, also comes with a Wide Open Watts Mode, or WOW. Silly name aside, it gets the Silverado to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
One of the main problems with EVs is how quickly they become outdated. The first mainstream EVs struggled to achieve 100 miles, but we now live in a world where 750 miles is possible on a single charge.
Still, both trucks have the same fundamental problem. They're essentially large, heavy bricks. The engineers can add some aerodynamic tricks, but you can't get around the bulk at the end of the day.
With the extended range battery (standard on the Platinum), Ford claims the Lightning has a maximum range of 300 miles. Charging at home is an overnight affair (eight hours), while a 150-kWh DC fast-charger will get it from 15 to 80 percent in 40 minutes.
Chevy claims the Silverado will do 400 miles when it launches in 2023. This will be a massive headache for Ford. Range is a huge selling point for EVs, and an additional 100 miles will not go unnoticed by prospective customers.
In addition to the above, the Chevy boasts fast charging capabilities of up to 350 kW. It adds 100 miles every ten minutes.
The Lightning has a lovely interior from Lariat trim upwards. The defining feature is the vertical 15.5-inch screen from where you control just about everything, including climate control. Usually, this would annoy us, but the climate control menu is permanently displayed at the bottom, making it easier to access. Top-spec Lightning models also include leather seats, a high-end Bang & Olufsen sound system, and a customizable 12-inch digital instrument cluster.
But then along came Chevy with even more inches. Sure, the digital instrument cluster is just 11 inches, but the central infotainment screen is a full 17-inch touchscreen interface. Chevrolet also adds a 14-inch multicolor head-up display. We like that Chevy still kept the climate control buttons separate, and it found a striking way of incorporating the wireless phone charger.
Both cars also come standard with modern connectivity features, including wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. As is par for the course with most modern cars, both come standard with over-the-air updates.
The pricing for the Ford F-150 is already available. It starts at just under $40,000 for the work truck and goes up to almost $100,00 for the Platinum. Chevrolet will also charge $40,000 for the work truck, while the RST First Edition will retail for $105,000. A top-spec model with a slightly lower price will also be introduced at some point.
Ford has one significant advantage. The Lightning will be available for at least a full year before the Silverado goes on sale. The Silverado offers more, however. If nothing else, an additional 100 miles of range is a huge selling point. We also prefer the design, interior layout, and the fact that Chevrolet made better use of the basic EV platform.
Are these two better than the Rivian R1T, however? We'll have to wait for the sales figures to see what the customer prefers.