From the looks of things, there will soon be some very different medium-duty Chevrolet trucks on the market. The OEM showed a glimpse of its upcoming Silverado 4500 HD and 5500 HD chassis cab trucks that are expected to go into production late this year as 2019 models.
Chevy announced plans to unveil the new chassis cabs at NTEA's upcoming Work Truck Show, which takes place March 6-9 in Indianapolis. That's also the hometown of Allison Transmission, which will supply transmissions for the 4500 HD and 5500 HD trucks.
The automaker's partnership with Allison dates back to the 1950s, and Chevy noted that some 2 million of its trucks have been built with a combination of Allison transmissions and General Motors' Duramax V8 diesel engines. That's to be the powertrain configuration for the 4500 HD/5500 HD Silverado as well.
"The Silverado 4500 HD/5500 HD trucks are the flagship of our full-line commercial truck portfolio, and we've designed them to be among the best in the industry in maneuverability, serviceability, visibility, quietness and comfort, diesel fuel economy, and more," said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president for General Motors Fleet.
In Chevy's 2018 lineup, Silverados are available as large as the 3500 HD chassis cab with an optional 6.6L Duramax turbo diesel making 445 hp. and 910 lbs.-ft. of torque. The 3500 HD features high-strength steel frame rails with either a 59-in. or 83.5-in. cab-to-axle length.
When the automaker announced the upcoming 4500 HD/5500 HD models last year, it promised they would be "powerful, highly maneuverable and among the easiest trucks in the world to upfit." Maneuverability has been a repeated emphasis, and it's also one of the claims to fame of Chevrolet's Low Cab Forward medium-duty offerings, which are based on Isuzu Commercial Truck of America's N-Series trucks.
Chevy's Low-Cab Forward models are a fairly new endeavor themselves, having begun production in mid-summer 2016. They come in 3500-6500 variants and have V8 gasoline engines available up to the 4500 model, otherwise sporting 3.0L or 5.2L 4-cyl. turbo diesels.
Although Chevrolet hasn't alluded to it yet in the lead-up to the new 4500 HD/5500 HD Silverados, General Motors announced a partnership with Navistar in late September 2015 to jointly build Class 4-5 conventional cab trucks vs. the cab-over type design of the essentially rebadged Isuzu medium-duty trucks.
That old information fits the bill. At the time it was announced, the Navistar-GM partnership was expected to produce trucks by 2018 — a timetable the 4500 HD/5500 HD Silverado chassis cabs would be on track to fulfill. The jointly-produced trucks were to pair up Navistar's chassis manufacturing expertise with GM's commercial components and engines.
The medium-duty conventional trucks were slated for production at Navistar's plant in Springfield, OH. Navistar said then that it would invest $12 million to prepare the facility and hire some 300 additional employees to help roll out the trucks. That 300 employee figure was also cited when Navistar announced it would manufacture GM's Chevrolet Express and GMC Savanna cutaway vans at the Springfield plant starting in the first half of last year.
Both those vans are available for 2018 in 3500 and 4500 models, with V6 or V8 gasoline engine options for the Chevys and the GMCs additionally offering a 6.6L Duramax diesel or compressed natural gas (CNG) alt fuel motivation.
The forthcoming Silverado 4500 HD and 5500 HD will be available in regular and crew cab models, with 4x2 and 4x4 options and a range of gross vehicle weight ratings and wheelbases. Buyers can include OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity provided by AT&T, a feature Chevrolet noted is popular with fleets.