The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 3.0L Duramax diesel has yet to receive final fuel economy certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But if a day behind the wheel is any indication of where fuel efficiency will land, Chevrolet will have a lot to be happy about come certification time, and fleet managers should have something to look forward to once the pickup officially launches.
In a 25-mile driving course where maximum fuel efficiency was the goal, Automotive Fleet was able to squeeze out 38.5 mpg out of the 3.0L Duramax diesel Silverado. A handful of other media participants reached up to 46 mpg on the same course.
It is important to note that this course did have ideal driving conditions, but even on a longer course with more real-world driving conditions, AF managed to achieve 33 mpg.
This fuel efficiency showcase was part of a first drive event for the all-new 2020 Silverado 1500 3.0L Duramax Diesel and the 2020 Silverado HD hosted by Chevrolet in Bend, Ore., in late June.
Fleet Perception of a Diesel Silverado 1500
Fleets have been asking for a light-duty diesel Silverado for some time now, according to John Schwegman, U.S. director of commercial product and medium-duty for General Motors.
Fleets wanted the performance and better fuel economy of a diesel engine, but in a smaller displacement engine.
Some fleets were looking for a diesel light-duty Silverado as a means to meet sustainability goals, as those fleets look at diesel as a type of alternative-fuel vehicle, in the same category as a hybrid or E-85 vehicle, Schwegman noted.
“We’ve had some fleets from our commercial sounding board ask about this light-duty because they think it has the capability and high fuel economy to meet their sustainability side of their business,” said Schwegman.
Other fleets look at the diesel Silverado from a rightsizing perspective, according to Schwegman. There are fleets that may tow a heavy payload or trailer frequently but don’t need to go all the way up to an HD or 2500 series, he added. These fleets may have been looking at a 2500 series before, but the diesel 1500 may be a better fit for them.
“The 3.0L diesel will be ideal for those that trailer pretty frequently, but are trailering less than 6,000 pounds,” said Schwegman. “Their diesel options prior to the 3.0L Duramax 1500 were the 6.6L Duramax for the 2500 or 3500 but that may be more than they need if they’re only towing 5,000 to 6,000 pounds.”
The 3.0L Duramax diesel Silverado 1500, and its max tow rating of 9,300 pounds, should be more than enough truck for these types of fleets while still providing the drive characteristics and fuel efficiency of a light-duty truck, Schwegman added.
Total Cost of Ownership Considerations
It’s common for fleet drivers to rack up heavy mileage numbers in a given year. The fuel savings that come with the 3.0L diesel Silverado’s better fuel economy can help fleets see a positive return on investment on the premium that comes along with the 3.0L diesel model in three years or less, according to Schwegman.
Although fuel economy certification is still pending as of print time, Schwegman expects about a 3-5 gallon differential in favor of the 3.0L diesel Silverado over the gasoline models.
Resale value, which tends to be higher on diesel models, will also help on that front, added Schwegman. So even with a higher acquisition cost, fleets can make up the 3.0L Duramax diesel’s price premium with higher fuel savings and resale value.
That premium will be $2,495 over the cost of a 5.3L V-8 gasoline Silverado 1500, or a $3,980 premium over a 2.7L gasoline turbo model. The price of the 3.0L diesel Silverado will be identical to the 6.2L V-8 gasoline variant, and a Custom Trail Boss with the 6.2L V-8 starts at $43,865 MSRP, including destination fee.
Production of the MY-2020 3.0L Duramax diesel Silverado 1500 doesn’t start until August. Release is expected by the third quarter of 2019.
2020-MY Specs and Performance Choices
The 2020-MY Silverado 1500 3.0L Duramax diesel produces 277 horsepower and makes 460 lb.-ft. of torque.
The 3.0L Duramax diesel engine will be available on the LT, RST, LTZ, and High Country Silverado 1500.
For the 2020-MY, Chevrolet focused on torque over horsepower, partly due to fleet customer requests, said John Schwegman, U.S. director of commercial product and medium duty for General Motors.
Fleets, Schwegman noted, said they didn’t need high horsepower, they needed something that was fuel efficient and something that could move quickly off the line with a heavy load behind it. Focusing on low end torque allowed Chevrolet to deliver on those requests with the diesel Silverado.
“We focused on torque, not horsepower,” said Schwegman. “Horsepower gets you off the line fast, instead of efficiently. Going fast burns more fuel, efficiently means more low-end torque to get me out without a lot of lag. Even with a load, [the Silverado] can get to highway speed efficiently, we allowed that low-end torque to be where fleets needed."
In terms of technology, the 2020-MY diesel Silverado will feature adaptive cruise and will receive all of the trailer technology that is coming to the 2020 Silverado HD.