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GM expands high-end Chevy Silverado HD lineup with new ZR2 off-road model

DETROIT — General Motors
will continue to test the price ceiling of its highly profitable full-size pickup trucks as it spends billions to transition to all-electric vehicles.

The latest model revealed Thursday is the Chevrolet Silverado HD 2500 ZR2, a new off-road model for one of GM’s most expensive pickup trucks. The company also unveiled a special-edition “ZR2 Bison” version in partnership with well-known off-road parts supplier American Expedition Vehicles.

Automakers such as GM, Ford Motor
and others have been growing off-road vehicle offerings as a way to boost profits on their trucks and SUVs with far less investment than a new vehicle.

“ZR2 has been a huge success for us,” said Michael MacPhee, director of Chevy truck marketing. “The performance/off-road space is the fastest-growing in pickup right now. So, it’s a natural extension for us to build that to the HD space.”

MacPhee declined to disclose expected profit margins for the upcoming vehicles, which will begin production at a Michigan plant this summer.

The new ZR2 trucks are in addition to similar models of smaller pickups such as the Chevrolet Colorado and Chevrolet Silverado 1500, a smaller sibling of the 2500 model. MacPhee said current ZR2 models are the fastest-turning vehicles of the brand’s premium trims and bring in the highest number of new customers.

The company declined to disclose exact pricing for the new ZR2 pickups, saying they will be “aspirational but attainable.” The current Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 starts at about $74,000 for a comparable model. GM also currently offers a Z71 off-road package of the large HD truck that can easily top $80,000.

The ZR2 vehicles feature a host of off-road components, systems and capabilities. Even if owners don’t use the trucks for their intended use cases, off-road vehicles have grown in popularity for their more aggressive looks and taller ride height.

The HD ZR2 trucks will be offered exclusively in the 2500 four-door crew cab configuration. The standard 6.6-liter V8 gasoline engine will produce 401 horsepower and 464 foot-pounds of torque. A 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel with 445 horsepower and 910 foot-pounds will also be available. GM said diesel is expected to make up a majority of the sales, like it does for current HD models.

GM’s burly fossil fuel-powered pickup trucks are assisting the automaker in investing $35 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles between 2020 and 2025.

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