The Changing Face of the Silverado

March 9th, 2018 by



Although Chevy trucks have long held a second-place standing behind Ford’s iconic F-Series trucks, Chevy has also held a comfortable lead over any other competition. Chalk it up to the longevity enjoyed by both Ford and General Motors, both as leading automakers and the key manufacturers in the pickup truck market.

Despite a decline in light vehicle sales with the U.S. market in 2017, pickup trucks have enjoyed a 4% jump overall based on a 4% growth for full and 3% growth for midsize offerings. A natural continuation of the growth in truck sales experienced in recent decades, the segment feels viable to a wider customer base than ever. Bolstered in no small part by upstart offerings from the likes of Nissan and Honda (both of whom continue to gain market share) there seems more pressure than ever for the Chevy and Ford to remain innovative and competitive.

Ford’s widely publicized decision to reduce the weight of the F-Series beginning with a 700-lb drop for the 2015 F-150 set hard precedent for truck design. Despite initial criticism from competitors for their use of aluminum to achieve the weight reduction, Ford had inspired a long-overdue shift in mindset. With weight reduction came the potential for increased output, fuel economy and reduced braking speeds that would support advances in safety and driver-assist features. The challenge came in finding innovative ways to facilitate weight reduction, without compromising heavy-duty capabilities.

While Ford’s efforts would evolve across recent model years, continuing to extend through the F-Series lineup, where did this leave the Silverado? The answer awaits us in the upcoming 2019 Chevy Silverado.


Shedding the Pounds

Based on early glimpses provided by Chevrolet in December, speculation is that the body would still consist primarily of steel. This was reinforced by some of the design notes, including deep curves and accent lines flowing from the headlights back across the fenders and lower flanks. Seeing as such detailed stamping is difficult to execute without metal tearing, many were inclined to think that Chevy wouldn’t be using a lightweight material such as aluminum.

And therein lies a common misconception that fuels much of the debate regarding weight reduction. Simply put, aluminum (as employed by Ford) can be processed in a manner that increases its strength exponentially, just as high-strength steel can be processed in a manner that makes it comparable to aluminum in terms of weight.

Factor in the wider speculation that carbon fiber will play a major role, most likely in terms of the bed and it becomes clear that Chevy and GM aren’t putting all of their eggs into one basket. If true, such a blended strategy may prove to be the most innovative all.


Looks Matter

Based on the images released to date, it appears as though the Silverado will receive a refreshed look that gives it a more aggressive stance along with a more sporty aesthetic. The contours mentioned above, combined with redesigned fascia and headlight designs are a welcome update to the overall simplicity that had permeated recent design years.

This is a crucial update considering the refresh that Ford served up for 2018. With so much pressure placed upon truck makers to retain (let alone grow) market share, innovation must exit at every level of design and engineering.

But the Silverado’s need for restyling isn’t reserved for the exterior aesthetic. For the steps being taken to be truly effective, requires Chevy to take a hard look at the dated nature of its cabin and controls. Having grown up with more than few Chevy and GMC trucks over the years, today’s Silverado still feels remarkably like some of the 1990’s models that I’d ridden in as a teenager.

Considering how far the demands of drivers have evolved, the obsolete styling of controls and switchgear seem a bit of a cardinal sin. Since we normally we praise Chevy for their integration of availability of technology across their line-up, we are fully confident that the 2019 Silverado will boast a notably updated interior to accentuate one of their greatest strengths. If they do, the Silverado might be the key to regaining some of the market shares they’ve lost across recent model years.

Time Will Tell

Considering that this piece is being written mere hours before the start of the Detroit Auto Show, many more details will have come to light by the point that it’s published. Like many other speculative pieces, it may provide an interesting perspective by which we can look at the actual steps being taken to move the Silverado forward.

One thing we can count on is that the steps taken will not be limited to weight reduction and aesthetics. We’d be foolish if we didn’t expect some notable changes under the hood, at least in terms of new powertrain options. Perhaps we’ll even get a long-awaited update in terms of an overhead-cam V6, empowering the Silverado to perform more competitively against the likes of F-Series and RAM offerings. Maybe we’ll even see some turbo or supercharged options present themselves.

Regardless of what changes we see, let’s take a moment to appreciate the level of innovation we are seeing. Never before have automakers taken such great measures to blend demands of performance, versatility, and sustainability. Rather than offer us a neutered future where trucks (as we know them) grow obsolete in the face of environmental initiatives, they are stepping up to the plate. As a result, we are seeing a new generation of trucks that represent evolution, like some kind of automotive Darwinism.

Bound to echo throughout the truck offerings of every automaker in the coming years, it will be interesting to see how such innovation equates to the continued redistribution of market share. Suffice it to say, the coming years will present more than just the changing face of the Chevy Silverado, but of the truck segment as a whole

Posted in Chevy Trucks