Chevrolet Silverado: 5000. Right-hand drive in Australia as US pickups go into overdrive

Chevrolet Silverado: 5000. Right-hand drive in Australia as US pickups go into overdrive

Australia’s appetite for US pickups continues to grow as sales of locally remanufactured Rams and Chevrolets hit record highs – and the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra are just around the corner.

The 5,000th locally remanufactured US Chevrolet Silverado pickup has rolled off a new, dedicated assembly line on the outskirts of Melbourne – after relocating from the former home of Holden Special Vehicles in August 2022.

The milestone comes after Ram Trucks Australia tripled its capacity and took over the assembly area at the Walkinshaw Automotive Group plant previously occupied by Chevrolet.

The two archrival US pickup brands were initially assembled under the same roof but on separate lines – and with separate engineers and production staff.

Despite Chevrolet’s milestone — 5,000 vehicles in about three years — arch-rival Ram Trucks Australia is on track to launch its 20,000th vehicle by the end of this year, after launching it on a large scale in 2018.

Today, Ram Trucks Australia outperforms Chevrolet by more than two to one. Ram’s annual total of 4,810 vehicles reported sold is more than 50 percent higher than the same period last year. Chevrolet (1971) sales increased 14.5 percent over the same period.

Year to date, Ram Trucks Australia has grown and locally has a commanding 70 percent share of the US pickup truck market.

journey asked General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV), the distributor for Chevrolet in Australia, why it has such conservative production estimates for the Silverado given Ram’s runaway success. We will update this story with GMSV’s response.

In a media statement, GMSV said the new dedicated remanufacturing facility “will allow for improved flexibility and capacity, with a significant increase in the number of Silverados that come off the assembly line.”

An updated version of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 — with minor exterior design changes and a larger infotainment screen — is already available in the US and is slated for release in Australia mid-next year. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 lineup also expands with the off-road oriented ZR2 edition.

All four US pickups – Ram, Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota – are factory supported and imported as left-hand drive before being remanufactured with more than 500 locally manufactured parts.

The cost of construction for each right-hand drive variant — which is remanufactured to factory quality and safety standards — is estimated at over $10 million before a single part is manufactured and before a single pickup truck rolls off the local assembly line.

The big four US pickup trucks have all but wiped out smaller independent “chop shops” that lack the technical capacity and financial resources to convert right-hand drive vehicles to factory-supported standards.

US pickup trucks have become so popular in Australia that independent crash testing authority ANCAP is considering including the vehicles in future assessments.

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for over 20 years, most of his time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motor editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in 2018 and has been a World Car of the Year judge for more than 10 years.

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