February 13th, 2019
Flint, Michigan, was cold on Tuesday, gray with a winter sleet warning in the forecast. It was a perfect day to launch Chevrolet’s all-new 2020 Silverado Heavy Duty truck in the face of the just-launched Ford product and almost-here RAM.
Flint is where the truck will be built in a brand new plant that’s part of the 159 acre, 3.3 million square foot Flint Assembly plant. In an eerily quiet staging area, first plant manager Michael Perez talked about the 3,000-strong work force and the plant’s longevity, and the recent 1.5 billion dollar investment. Flint is GM’s longest continuously operating assembly plant, having produced more than 13-million vehicles since opening in 1947. Interestingly, the first 300 production Corvettes came from Flint in 1953.
Then Silverado HD chief engineer Jaclyn McQuaid described its advanced trailer tow features, the fully boxed High Strength Steel frame, and its two new powertrains. She spoke about a tow rating minimum of 33,000 pounds for every dually, not just the 35,500 maximum for a specific option set. That maximum tow rating is up 52-percent!
Mark Reuss, president of GM described their truck strategy and last year’s 973,000 truck sales. He projected strong earnings for 2019, now that the three-truck strategy is in effect—Colorado, Silverado and Silverado HD, plus Medium Duty 4-5-6 series trucks. He also commented on, but gave no details on the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel engine for light-duty trucks. Damn!
Mark was followed by chief designer Rich Scheer, who outlined exterior and interior changes like the corner-step and bed step, same-height bed rails, integrated block heater outlet, and easy fitment to snow plows. “We knew if we could pull off something this dramatic, nobody would mistake our Heavy Duty for a Light Duty -- and that would be our competitive advantage.” Rich then went for a Trim Walk, from Work, to Custom, to LT and chrome, the LTZ with more chrome and LED headlights, and finally High Country with its body-colored bumpers and 20-inch wheels.
With the talking complete, these are the things that grabbed our attention: first, two new engines and two new transmissions. Each powertrain is based, somewhat, on existing products. We’d been waiting for the new gas engine in particular. Based on the 6.0-liter V-8 small block, its longer stroke ups displacement to 6.6-liters with a power output of 401 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm thanks to Direct Injection. It offers 18-percent greater tow capacity. We’ll have a complete photo essay after the Chicago Auto Show, which we’re currently attending.
The diesel, all 910 torques of it, is mated to an Allison® transmission boasting ten speeds; a very low first gear and several overdrive gears. The main benefit of having ten speeds is keeping diesel engine RPM in the best band for torque and for perfect no-brake downhilling.
Again, more after Chicago. Except for one note, because of the massive 12-inch ring gear and larger prop shaft and axles, Chevy (and of course GMC) promise every single foot-pound of torque can be applied in first gear. Even that lower first gear.
The Introduction & Reveal
When we stepped into our meeting room, several partly assembled trucks were in mid-test form. Using coordinate measuring machines that index to established hard points, precise measurement of how individual parts fit, and how the whole assembly conforms to engineering standards is established.
This hanger-sized area would be for temporary storage. On this Tuesday, every truck writer in the USA sat alongside engineers, executives and teammates.
Michael Perez, plant manager delivered a history lesson on the oldest of GM’s plants and the workforce represented by UAW Local 598 that will build GM’s Heavy Duty trucks in volume, starting in summer.
Mark Reuss, GM president, spoke about Chevrolet’s five-truck strategy, how General Motors sold more trucks than anyone last year, and how the company expects to continue improving its products. (Now, if only there were some extra funds for interiors…)
Jaclyn McQuaid is the chief engineer for Heavy Duty, and she produced two bare chassis to extol the boxed High Strength Steel-y goodness thereof. Most interesting is the claim that each Heavy Duty truck can apply 100-percent of its available torque in first gear without turning the driveshaft into scrap. She also debuted the new gas engine, which we had not expected.
The upgraded Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 mates to an Alison transmission, a segment exclusive, and the powertrain offers an optional, warranted, PTO, another exclusive.
Frames are available with built-in gooseneck cross-body reinforcements and bed holes from the factory, saving extra costs and possible fitment misfits. Another option is an Autotrac two-speed transfer case for 4X4 models. It’s fully electronically activated.
One sought-after upgrade for diesel trucks is easier access to DEF, and a way to monitor DEF quantities. The new Silverado HD encloses the DEF filler behind the fuel door and provides a DEF quantity monitor. (This is welcome, needed, but hardly novel.)
If you need a gooseneck setup, GM offers it from the factory. It includes a bed already perforated during production, so is fully coated on all surfaces for less rust potential.
Closer view of the diesel powertrain, with the PTO option.
GM’s new small-block 6.6-liter V-8. The tall intake manifold is made from Nylon 6-6, and we’ll provide more details soon.
Even the gas engine, which does run on 87 Octane fuel, offers a factory PTO.
One of the novel options is smart trailer integration, which is designed to work with ASA Electronics iN∙Command® control system. This offers control over trailer features like heat and air conditioning. You control it from the dash, or your myChevrolet mobile app.
We mentioned the designed-in easier fitment for snowplows. No cutting required.
This Cougar trailer is the one monitored in our infotainment center photos.
There’s nothing like proving your truck can pull a large trailer. However, note the new towing mirrors. They slide in-out to provide coverage for trailers that don’t have the transparent trailer view option.
Some venues have greeters. We had a new Silverado to welcome us.
The Flint Plant Tour
Largely robotic, the plant uses JIT or Just In Time parts that arrive in reusable fixtures.
We weren’t told how many robots there are, but 3,000 people make the trucks. Everything possible is done to prevent scratches and dents.
While it would seem that once a part is designed and the stamping die constructed, the job is over. Not so. Constant measurement is part of the process.
Using multiple part profiles, this video-enabled dimensional test device looks at minute, hair-thin deviations from specification. Once is an aberration, but several would require intervention in production. At start-up, every part is tested. Thereafter, a statistical sample will be used.
Remember when we said beds were produced for fifth-wheel or gooseneck applications? These are raw parts in several bed lengths, prior to welding into complete beds.
Parts arrive from GM’s attached metal stamping plant on AGVs, Automated Guided Vehicles. Laser-guided (look at the up-looking towers), they flow throughout the plant on designated paths.
Smaller parts are tugged throughout the plant by AGV tugs. They operate in strict lanes.
Partly assembled bodies and beds head towards the paint shop to be immersed in protective chemistry, prior to the paint shop’s base and clear coat application. Wondering about the upside-down tailgate? It’s so the anti-corrosion primary coating can drain out through what will be bed-top mounting holes.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
Chevrolet rolled out the new 2020 Silverado HD lineup today at the Flint Manufacturing Plant where the new truck will be built. Chevy says that towing ability increased by a whopping 52% to 35,000 pounds. A heavier-duty frame compared to the current model, enables a higher gross combined vehicle weight rating (GCWR) of up to 43,500 pounds on properly equipped trucks. “We set out to make the best HD trucks on the market, bar none,” said Jaclyn McQuaid, chief engineer, Silverado HD. “We increased towing capabilities across the line, not just for dually buyers. We added class-leading towing technologies, such as 15 available camera views, to make trailering more convenient, whether pulling a large cargo trailer or fifth-wheel camper. And we made a host of changes to make tasks easier.”
The new 2020 Silverado HD will be available in five different trim levels — Work Truck, Custom, LT, LTZ and High Country — available across 22 cab, bed, chassis and driveline configurations. Chevy is offering two new powertrains. The base engine is a new 6.6L V-8 gas with direct injection producing 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. That’s adds up to an 11 percent increase in horsepower and a 22 percent increase in peak torque, respectively, resulting in 18 percent more towing capability. The up-powered engine is the Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V-8 engine making 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque mated to an all-new Allison® 10-speed automatic transmission. Chevy says that every component between the transmission and the wheels has been upgraded to enable an available 52-percent increase in max towing capability — now up to 35,500 pounds on Regular Cab, two-wheel drive, DRW, diesel models.
Chevy Lists the Following As 2020 Silverado HD highlights:
-New, more powerful 6.6L V-8 gas engine with direct injection for greater performance and stronger trailering capability with 22 percent more torque and up to 18 percent more towing compared to previous 6.0L gas engine.
-All-new Allison 10-speed automatic transmission is matched with the available Duramax 6.6L V-8 Turbo-Diesel engine for a 52 percent increase in max towing to 35,500 pounds on properly equipped models.
-Autotrac active two-speed transfer case on 4x4 models electronically controls “4 Auto” mode, allowing the truck to seamlessly shift between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive based on road conditions.
-Advanced Trailering System technologies and new transparent trailer view: The in-vehicle trailering system features an available total of 15 available camera views (requires an installed accessory camera), such as HD Surround Vision and other unique -views including a transparent trailer feature to help provide added confidence when towing. Also features increased integration with the myChevrolet mobile app.
-HD-exclusive sculpted exterior design features the most differentiation from the Silverado 1500 ever — the roof is the only shared sheetmetal.
-Heavy-duty details designed to make work easier and more intuitive, including features such as an easy-access engine block heater outlet, easy-to-fill diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank with opening inside the fuel door, a more integrated snow plow prep -package and new, advanced trailering mirrors with available spot lamps and more.
-BedStep feature and larger CornerSteps makes it easier to load or reach items in the cargo box, which is designed to hold a pair of size-12 boots and up to 500 pounds.
-Larger cab enables more spacious interiors with Crew Cab models adding about 3 inches in overall length.
Chevy outlined many new driveline changes that add to the Silverado HD's towing ability. The upgraded driveline includes new, larger, more robust front and rear axles, a standard 11.5-inch ring gear on 2500HD models, and 12-inch ring gear on 3500HD diesel models. Also, 30-percent larger-diameter prop shafts provide greater strength with the high torque output of the new 6.6L gas engine and the Duramax Turbo-Diesel. Helping cool the Duramax engine is a massive 28-inch diameter fan with variable fan speed – 2.5-inches larger than the current fan.
A new 6.6L V-8 gas engine now has gasoline direct injection. Chevy uses a cast-iron Small Block for long-term durability with aluminum heads. The higher compression ratio of 10.8:1 and longer stroke produce a greater power output of 401 hp with strong performance at low rpm where it’s needed when pulling away with a loaded cargo box or trailer. Torque increases to 464 lb-ft. The 6.6L gas engine also gets dual alternators to support the electrical needs for trailering, snowplowing and other jobs.
Chevy's proven Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V-8 with 910 lb-ft of torque is th top engine option. Towing capability is increased up to 52 percent with driveline improvements. A diesel after-run feature specifically for use following a demanding towing situation is an additional new technology for the Duramax engine. The after-run allows the engine to keep running for up to 15 minutes to allow it to cool down using the fan and circulating coolant. If the driver puts the truck in park when an after-run situation is needed, an alert will appear on the driver information cluster directing them to keep the engine running for cool down. Should the customer ignore the message and exit the vehicle, the truck will restart on its own via remote start mode for cool-down. At that point the customer can walk away and the truck will turn itself off when the engine reaches an acceptable temperature.
The new Allison 10-speed automatic transmission is better at transferring all of the Duramax’s torque to the pavement, allowing more torque to be put to the ground in lower gears, enhancing the overall driving dynamics and trailering with smoother gear changes and shorter steps between them. It also supports smart engine braking, which can help reduce brake wear. The Duramax/Allison combination’s standard axle ratio is lowered to 3.42:1, which reduces engine speed, therefore enhancing refinement. “The 6.6L Duramax diesel and Allison® transmission is a legendary combination in the HD truck market with proven durability and capability that our customers expect,” said McQuaid. “For 2020, we made the combination even better and upgraded nearly every driveline component.”
An all-new, factory-integrated engine-driven Power Take Off (PTO) is available that eliminates the need for an aftermarket unit. Exclusively offered with the Allison® 10-speed transmission on select diesel models, it’s the first fully integrated PTO system of its kind in the HD truck segment, with the PTO’s drive gear operated via chain to direct engine power. And because it is engine-driven rather than turbine-driven, owners can use the PTO while the vehicle is idling. A button inside the cab enables the PTO, and a mode selector allows adjustment of load and torque output.
HD Highlights Include:
- Smother door skins to make attaching signage easier for owners
-Relocated engine-block heater. Designers moved the engine-block heater outlet to a more convenient, external location on the driver’s side of the truck, integrated into the front bumper, eliminating the need for cords hanging out of the grille or to open the hood for plug-in. The block heater is standard with diesel models and available with the new 6.6L gas engine.
-More-intuitive snow plow package8. The front end of the truck is designed for easy removal of the air dam and skid plate for easier and more intuitive mounting of the plow hardware. The design even eliminates the need to drill additional holes in the front bumper. And when the plow blade is removed, the Silverado HD returns to form by maintaining a smooth, integrated appearance without visible hardware.
-Diesel DEF tank/filler enhancements. The Diesel Exhaust Fluid tank is relocated farther back on the Silverado HD’s frame and out of sight from the exterior, and the inlet is located next to the fuel filler for more convenient filling. An electronic gauge readout for the DEF fluid level is added to the Driver Infotainment Center of diesel-equipped models.
-Redesigned trailering mirrors with improved perimeter lighting. New, larger and more functional door-mounted trailering mirrors are standard on all 2500HD and 3500HD models. The mirrors extend and retract using a four-bar-link system that makes for smoother operation, whether done with power or manually. The surface area of the mirrors is larger, for a greater field of view compared to the current model, and an available power extension feature makes it easier to adjust the view from the driving position.
-New for 2020 is the forward-facing spot lamp on each mirror that shines light at about a 45-degree angle, providing illumination on the job site or camp site. There also are side-view cameras mounted within the mirror housings, and when equipped, mirror-mounted puddle lamps and two rearward-facing spot lamps are also available.
- Aero Shutters on 2500 and 3500 SRW models improve efficiency.
- Diesel models get a more prominant hood scoop
- Beds are no longer shared with standard duty Silverados, but are custom to the HD
Work Truck: Distinguished with a unique, black “CHEVROLET” flow-through grille bar. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard on 2500HD and 3500HD with dual rear wheels (DRW); 18-inch wheels are standard on 3500HD with single rear wheels (SRW).
Custom: New to the Silverado HD lineup and exclusive on 2500HD, the Custom trim offers standard 20-inch wheels and body-color trim details for a more contemporary design expression.
LT: Featuring chrome-trimmed vertical grille elements and a bright grille bar with the flow-through “CHEVROLET” name. 2500HD models feature 17-inch aluminum wheels, 3500HD SRW models feature 18-inch aluminum wheels and 3500HD DRW models feature 17-inch steel wheels.
LTZ: Takes bright trim to the next level, including a bright grille surround with the flow-through “CHEVROLET” bar and chrome-accented grille inserts. It also features LED reflector headlamps, LED daytime running lamps and LED taillamps. 2500HD and 3500HD SRW models feature standard 18-inch aluminum wheels with 20-inch wheels available. 3500HD DRW has standard 17-inch steel wheels and 17-inch polished forged-aluminum wheels are available.
High Country: The most dramatic and expressive trim in the lineup, with a distinctive fascia featuring a grille with the Chevy bowtie and two-tone metallic grille trim, and LED lighting. 2500HD and 3500HD SRW models feature 20-inch polished aluminum wheels and the 3500HD DRW features 17-inch polished forged-aluminum wheels.
Chevy Also Created This Matrix Showing the Comparison To Other Trucks
Please see our separate story for full specifications.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
General Motors is hiring part-time workers to staff up its Flint Assembly Plant. The plant makes Silverados and Sierras. Local news outlets near the Flint plant are reporting that the positions are for one to 3 days per week including mandatory Saturdays and short-notice overtime shifts. Pay starts at $15.78. Those who stay longer than 30 days will be eligible for benefits. Katy Teer, a plant spokeswoman, said, "...to aid balancing our workforce with our business, the duration of employment is indefinite at this time."
GM's truck shipments have been well below typical s the company switches from 2018 to the 2019 model year vehicles. Perhaps this hiring is to help with a short-term push to up production.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
GM will conduct an extended 4-week July shutdown at its Flint Michigan plant this summer to ready the plant for the next generation of Chevy and GMC heavy-duty pickup trucks. This is not GM's official word on the shutdown. Rather, GM says only that "GM has constructed new body, paint and trim shops at the Flint complex and will use downtime in July to upgrade equipment in the assembly area," GM spokesman Tom Wickham said. "When employees return after the plant upgrades, they will continue to build the current generation of heavy-duty pickups."
However, that doesn't jive with the product lifecycle of GM's pickups, nor does it jive with the reality of the demand GM has right now for the heavy-duty line. Ryan Buchalski, president of UAW Local 598 that represents workers at the plant told the Detroit Free Press, “Our folks have been working very hard. The demand for heavy-duty pickups has been high, which is a great problem to have, but you know that comes with a lot of hard work and dedication from our membership and it's all paying off," Buchalski said. "We just can't build enough of (those trucks). All last year, our plant was working six days a week."
We are not saying GM isn't being truthful. They are. However, closing a plant for double the normal maintenance in the face of overwhelming demand for a product deep into its design life obviously has other goals as well. Either way, it is a mixed blessing for workers. Many will work the shutdown and earn extra cash, others will have an extended vacation in the perfect time for such a break.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
General Motors announced today it will build the new 3.0-liter Duramax diesel engine in Flint Michigan. The company will invest $263 million to prepare the line for the new engine build. Flint Engine, as the plant is called, presently builds small four-cylinder gasoline engines for GM vehicles, but has produced Duramax engines in the past.
“The next-generation Silverado builds on the success of our current models, many of which are produced here in Flint. We are proud to expand the industry-leading diesel portfolio here in Vehicle City,” said John Urbanic, Flint Engine Operations plant manager.
The 2.8-liter Duramax engine that GM uses in the Colorado and Canyon are built in Rayong, Thailand. This new move by GM to bring the Durmax production stateside and invest heavily in a plant to build the engine, leads us to speculate that the 3.0-liter engine will likely be used in more vehicles than just the Silverado. The GMC Sierra will get the engine, and possibly GM’s large SUVs. It may even supplant the 2.8-liter engine now used in the Colorado and Canyon at some future point.
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