March 2018, Work Truck – Feature
Photo of 2019 Silverado 4500HD courtesy of Chevrolet.
Chevrolet is coming back to the medium-duty market in a big way. Not only has the automaker launched the 2019-model-year Chevrolet Silverado 4500HD and 5500HD, but it didn’t stop there. Hiding in the wings was another truck — the all-new, Class 6 Silverado 6500HD.
“We see a great opportunity for us with this truck. In the six years I’ve been with General Motors Fleet, this is the single biggest launch we’ve had happen in our space,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president of GM Fleet. “This has been a hole in our commercial portfolio and we are excited to re-enter the market moving all the way up to Class 6.”
The trucks will now represent GVWs from 15,000 pounds in Class 4 to 22,900 pounds in Class 6.
The new 4500HD, 5500HD, and 6500HD medium-duty trucks expand the already trusted lineup and build on the Silverado nameplate.
“We are leveraging the strength of the Silverado name with the new medium-duty lineup,” said John Schwegman, U.S. director of commercial product for GM Fleet.
The trucks will appeal to a broad vocational focus encompassing landscaping, towing/wrecker, construction, utility, water and gas, the larger side of plumbing, communication, and rental fleets. The new medium-duty trucks are further increasing the payload available in the Silverado lineup.
“We had a number of customers note that a 19,500-pound GVW is great but some of the gas and utility fleets are maxing out on payload,” Schwegman said. “So, we are giving customers an additional 3,000-plus pounds in a Class 6 that isn’t as expensive as competitor models.”
2019 Silverado 6500HD wheelbase and axle specifications courtesy of GM.
The new trucks were designed with customers in mind, including upfitting needs.
“The truck features very durable, one-piece straight frame rails. In addition, we use huck bolts to attach crossmembers to the frame versus rivets on top of the frame used on competitor models, which means the top of our frame is clean. In addition, we will be painting the chassis black for corrosion protection,” Peper said. “From an upfitter standpoint, we offer several wheelbase and cab-to-axle options — seven on the regular cabs and three on the crew cabs. It’s going to be an upfitter’s delight.”
GM brought in several big upfitters early in the process to ensure they had the voice of the customer front-and-center in the design of the truck.
“The configurations, cab-to-axle offerings, and selection of features were based on meetings with our dealer advisory board,” Schwegman added. “We talked to select customers on the wrecker and bucket truck side of the business, as well as a few other industries. We made several modifications based on their input along the way.”
According to Peper, the new Silverado trucks will be a great complement to the Chevrolet Low Cab Forward truck, meeting additional fleet needs including access to more rugged terrain.
“The Silverado is a conventional truck. The Low Cab Forward is playing well in more urban, delivery-type settings. Around upward of 80% of the trucks are upfitted as box trucks. The Silverado medium-duty will be able to go where the Low Cab Forward will not,” Peper explained.
You’ll see the Silverado on construction sites, on oil fields, and working power lines as bucket trucks. While the GVWs overlap, the applications have very limited overlap.
Another difference with the new trucks is how they will be sold. “We are going to spend a lot of time training our commercial dealers.