The top-line Silverado costs about $14,000 more than the highest trim of the Lightning and will offer 120 miles more driving range. But Lightning buyers will have a wider range of trims to choose from right away.
After production begins next year, Chevy plans to reveal a full portfolio with trims from about $50,000 to $80,000.
By launching the Silverado EV with the fully loaded trim, GM aims to lower the barrier to adoption of electric pickups from the get-go, Steve Carlisle, president of GM North America, told Automotive News.
EV skeptics may doubt they can find a pickup that does everything they need it to do, Carlisle said, but the Silverado RST shows "you're not giving up anything when you get into an electric pickup. You're gaining so much more. That was the idea."
Chevy also doesn't plan to drop the gasoline version of the Silverado anytime soon.
"We have a carefully put-together strategy here where we're going to keep a foot in both camps," Carlisle said. "The endgame is clear: It's electric. But we don't want to give up anything in either case in the meantime."
GM plans to launch freshened versions of the gasoline-powered Silverado and GMC Sierra this year. Carlisle says to expect another significant upgrade for the full-size pickups before the end of the decade.
"We will need to be constantly reevaluating because what we know about this whole [EV] adoption process is that it's only going one way. It's accelerating," he said. "We'll have to watch that and determine what the right time is. But we don't want to lose market position as we go through that."
Carlisle did not disclose production or sales targets for the electric Silverado, but he said GM aims to grow its full-size pickup share, which has hovered around 30 percent for the Silverado and Sierra combined.
"We have aspirations that are beyond that for the electric truck," he said. "Our objective is, 'Everybody in.' That includes pickups."