Instead, it's something entirely new for a full-size truck.
General Motors has invested heavily in its transition to electrification, a process that is helping it create several new technologies and vehicle designs. The upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV will ride on a novel vehicle architecture that incorporates the battery as a part of the structure.
GM's BT1 platform is neither unibody nor body-on-frame. Nichole Kraatz, the automaker's Chief Engineer, Battery Electric Trucks, told GM Authority that the body has a floor but integrates the battery, noting that "the Ultium battery structure is actually a good portion of the structure and those two are connected after the body exits the body shaft." Kraatz continued to say that GM has "defined kind of a new category of vehicle that doesn't have that traditional body-on-frame approach."
Traditional full-size pickup trucks use body-on-frame construction. The configuration involves a frame that houses the engine and powertrain components, suspension, axles, and more. The truck's body, which contains the passenger compartment, is mounted on that frame. Though passenger cars and most SUVs use a unibody design, body-on-frame is still preferable for trucks and vehicles where towing and hauling are priorities. Interestingly, in the United States, the Ford Panther was the last body-on-frame car platform. It formed the basis of several legendary cars over its years, including the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Marquis, and the Lincoln Continental.
Though body-on-frame is the go-to for pickup trucks, Chevy derived legitimate capability from the novel design. The Silverado EV's max towing capacity is 10,000 pounds, only 1,000 pounds short of the gas Silverado's rating. Payload comes in at 1,300, shy of the gas truck's 2,300-pound capacity. That strength is part of the reason why Chevy has seen unprecedented demand for the truck.
The design is new enough that Kraatz's team hasn't officially assigned a buzzy automotive marketing name yet, though one is informally in the works. Kraatz told GM Authority her team uses the term "UltiBody" for the set, which refers to the Ultium technology that forms an integral part of the body structure.
One of GM's most significant advantages with the Ultium architecture is its flexibility. Beyond the Silverado EV, the BT1 platform forms the basis of the GMC Hummer EV and two upcoming EVs: the electric Cadillac Escalade IQ and the GMC Sierra EV. GM uses a different platform in its electric SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Equinox EV and Blazer EV.