CHICAGO -- Chevrolet has made big inroads into the lucrative market for pricey pickups since a redesigned Silverado came out 18 months ago. But the model unveiled at the auto show here is intended to fend off rivals -- Ram in particular -- at the lower end of the full-size pickup segment.
The 2015 Chevy Silverado Custom is targeted at "the heart" of the truck market, GM North America President Alan Batey told Automotive News. It's priced at $33,820, including shipping, far below the Silverado's average transaction price of around $42,000.
The Custom package takes a double-cab version of Chevy's LS trim level -- one step up from the base model -- and adds 20-inch aluminum wheels and lots of shine, including a chrome bumper and grille surround, rear bumper, door handles and mirror caps. Dealer orders began this month.
GM executives acknowledged that much of Ram's market share gains over the past year have come in lower-priced trucks. The Silverado Custom is supposed to be an answer to the Ram Express, a lower-trim model that has helped the No. 3 full-size pickup brand win converts.
Ram sales rose 24 percent in 2014, to 439,789 trucks. Silverado sales increased 10 percent, to 529,755. Ford's F series slipped 1.3 percent, to 753,851. GMC Sierra sales rose 15 percent, to 211,833.
"Our ATPs are off the chart because the top-end has done brilliantly well. But clearly, when you look at this part of the market, we're not getting our fair share," Batey said. "We believe that this vehicle can go and grab some share, definitely."
Closing the sizable gap with Ford in average transaction prices was one of GM's highest priorities when the current-generation Silverado was launched. That effort has been successful: The top-of-the-line High Country edition and the LTZ model, the highest trim level, now account for about one quarter of total Silverado sales.
Chevy's Custom model also could help GM sell more double-cab models, which are made at its Fort Wayne, Ind., assembly plant. GM has been trying to boost double-cab demand amid tight supplies of crew cab models, which are made at GM's assembly plant in Silao, Mexico.
Chevy expects most Custom models to be sold with the 5.3-liter V-8 engine. It also will be offered with the 4.3 liter V-6. c