Although the Chevy Silverado has slipped in sales recently, the truck regularly outsells its GMC version and comes with numerous standard features. It’s also stolen less often than the F-150. Still, GM knows there’s always room to broaden the Silverado’s appeal and improve on its design. The automaker is considering bringing back the single cab version, for example. But there are reports that Chevy may give the Silverado what it already gave the Tahoe and Suburban: independent rear suspension. And in doing so, may lay the groundwork for an electric Silverado.
What we know about the Chevy Silverado’s suspension
At the moment, the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra both use a solid rear axle. And, up until recently, so did the Tahoe and Suburban.
When the new Tahoe and Suburban debuted, Roadshow asked chief engineer Tim Asoklis if the suspension would be durable enough to install in a pickup truck. His answer? “Oh, absolutely.” He did indicate that the design would have to be tweaked somewhat, owing to the different demands put on a pickup vs. an SUV. However, GM Authority noted that the current Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 are built on the same T1 platform as the new Tahoe and Suburban.
Presumably, then, according to Autoblog, the Silverado’s independent rear suspension would be based on the Tahoe’s. As of this writing, however, neither Asoklis nor anyone else at GM has officially commented on anything regarding the Chevy Silverado’s suspension.
But there are several reasons why going independent would benefit the Chevy Silverado.
What would be the benefits from giving the truck independent rear suspension?
Although a solid axle is simple, durable, boosts handling and towing capacity, and is better for low-speed off-roading, IRS has its perks. Independent suspension provides better handling both on- and off-road, which could make off-road special-edition Silverados even more capable. It also gives better wheel articulation, again benefitting off-roaders.
Fitting the Silverado with independent suspension would also improve its ride quality. Autoblog pointed out that giving the Silverado IRS could let Chevy give the truck magnetic dampers or air suspension, further improving the ride. Considering how much praise the Ram 1500’s air suspension has received, it would be a huge boon for the Silverado.
However, there is another benefit to independent suspension that has even bigger ramifications. Independent suspension takes up less space than a solid axle, despite its increased complexity. And making space in a pickup truck’s frame would make fitting a battery pack easier.
How this might signal an electric Chevy Silverado
According to a report by GM Authority, GM is currently working on a version of the T1 platform that can accommodate a battery pack. Internally, this platform is allegedly called ‘BT1’, for ‘Battery T1.’
Fitting a battery pack into a platform with a solid rear axle and leaf springs would be fairly difficult. However, the more compact dimensions of an IRS would make the task much easier. And because making one truck platform with two different suspensions would be costly, it’d be better just to make all Silverados have independent suspensions.
It is worth noting that the report and rumors aren’t entirely baseless. GM CEO Mary Barra confirmed that GM would produce a fully-electric pickup by 2021. Considering Ford is planning to release an electric F-150 by then, this would position the Silverado well against its cross-town rival.
Hopefully, GM will provide more details soon.
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