Engineering the ’24 Chevrolet Silverado EV

By Gary S. Vasilash

“Let’s determine what must be true to make it happen—and then let’s make it happen.”

Although it sounds rather simple, what Nicole Kraatz is referring to is the approach that she and her team took to product development under the restrictions that were presented to them because of COVID-19.

Business wasn’t as usual.

And what they were, and are, developing is something that is unlike what had been done before and absolutely important in the offerings of GM:

Kraatz is chief engineer of the Chevrolet Silverado EV.

Imagine: they had to develop a new vehicle while, in many cases, working at their kitchen tables, not the engineering center where there is immediate access to people and tech, not situations where you have to ask the kids to stop streaming because the Internet connection is wonky.

Determine what needs to be done. Then do it.

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Pickup trucks are essential to the offerings of Chevy in particular and GM in, well, general.

In 2021 Chevrolet delivered a total 1,437,671 vehicles, of which 529,765 were Silverados.

GM sold a total of 2,218,228, vehicles, so Silverado is nearly a quarter of all of its sales.

2024 Silverado EV RST, style meets capability and electricity. (Image: Chevrolet)

In addition to which, GM is committed to transforming its vehicle portfolio to all-electric in the years to come, and is in the process of spending some $35-billion in transforming from combustion, including $2.2-billion at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, which has been transformed to Factory ZERO, where the Siliverado EV will be built.

The 2024 model is interesting compared with the cross-town rival’s F-150 Lightning in that the Chevy is a new vehicle from the tires up, with nothing being brought over from the conventional truck, while the Ford is largely the combustion-based truck that is electrified.

(In the case of the Chevy, the Ultium platform is being used, an all-new EV battery-based architecture that provides a range of modularity such that pickup trucks and midsize SUVs—as in the Cadillac Lyriq—and other vehicles can be based on it.)

The Silverado EV will come in two versions at the start: the WT and the RST. The former is the work truck version, the sort of thing that contractors would be interested in as it will offer 8,000 pounds of towing and 1,200 pounds of payload.

The RST is the truck that someone will boast to their neighbors about was it offers everything from four-wheel steering to automatic adaptive air suspension, and when the Wide Open Watts mode is activated, it will have a 0 to 60 mph time of less than 4.5 seconds. (Remember: this is a full-size pickup truck.)

Both will have an estimated range of 400 miles on a charge and be capable of handling DC fast charging (up to 350 kW).

The Silverado EV represents an opportunity to Kraatz and her team to take the learnings of more than 100 years of GM trucks and make it something new.

Kraatz talks all about the Silverado EV on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with John McElroy, Joann Muller of Axios What’s Next, and me.

And you can see it here.

Recycling Li-Ion Batteries

Sure, the electric vehicle market is growing. But there’s the non-trivial issue of critical materials for the batteries for all of those new cars, trucks and SUVs. . .

By Gary S. Vasilash

Ajay Kochhar, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle, points out something that should give everyone a bit of pause when it comes to the burgeoning electric vehicle market: In 2013 there were three electric vehicle battery plants. In 2021 there are 225 existing on the way.

According to the Critical Materials Institute, which is under the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the definition of critical material is: “Any substance used in technology that is subject to supply risks, and for which there are no easy substitutes.”

Things like lithium used in batteries. Or nickel. Or cobalt.

Lots of battery plants. Not a whole lot of readily available—to say nothing of environmentally available (mining is not necessarily conducted in places where there is more concern with getting the stuff out of the ground than how that ground will be after the important stuff is removed in an environmentally benign manner)—critical materials.

Kochhar and his colleague Tim Johnson once worked on the lithium-extraction part of the business, Kochhar says on this edition of “Autoline After Hours.” He also points out that there is a whole lot of work that occurs between the extraction of lithium and it ending up in a battery (here’s something amusing: cylindrical cells are sometimes referred to as “jellyrolls” and the pouch-style batteries as “chocolate bars”).

So Kochhar and Johnson established Li-Cycle, which is dedicated to recycling lithium-ion batteries in a safe manner.

(image: GM)

Kochhar says that they are able to recover approximately 95% of the important materials—like lithium, nickel and cobalt—from the batteries, which can then go back into the production of new batteries.

This past May Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution, announced that it had selected Li-Cycle to recycle up to 100 percent of the material scrap from battery cell manufacturing from its battery-manufacturing facility in Ohio. This will include things like offcuts and scrap, which, Kochhar says, may be comparatively small, but given that the plant in Lordstown will have a capacity of >30 gWh, it is a non-trivial amount.

While Kochhar acknowledges that even within the next 10 years the amount of recycled critical materials from batteries will be limited—perhaps no more than 20%–there is an important need to do this.

Kochhar talks with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Joann Muller of Axios What’s Next, and me.

And you can see it here.