The 2019 Chevy Silverado's significance cannot be overstated, even by the man that's shepherded its development for the last few years.

"This is the biggest project General Motors has ever done," said Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer for full-size trucks at GM. Evidently, it's been a more significant undertaking than the small-block V8, Hydra-Matic transmission and Volt extended-range electric car. And the reason for this is fairly simple; there's more to the story than just Silverado. When all platform variants are included, vehicles like the GMC Sierra, Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Tahoe, its magnitude comes into focus. These vehicles form the financial bedrock of this Detroit-based automaker, with hundreds of thousands of examples being sold each year.

Ensuring it's built for the long haul, Chevy's new Silverado, is the most exhaustively evaluated vehicle GM has ever built, having endured more than 7 million miles of real-world testing. But even that's not enough. Herrick explained, "Architecturally, when we're done with all of it we'll have enough simulation miles, durability miles, test miles and road miles that we could hit Mars at its closest spot to earth about 31 million miles away." That's A LOT of testing.

Ensuring greater long-term robustness, engineers doubled many important validation metrics for this truck, to meet aggressive warranty targets and ultimately keep customers on the road rather than in the repair shop.

And it's taken quite a while for the engineering team to get where they are today. Herrick said the new Silverado's been under development for about three-and-a-half or four years though. "We've had trucks on the road for quite a bit of time," he noted. They've been running the new chassis underneath the outgoing model's body for quite some time, all in a bid to get rack up more real-world miles.

Trucks are major profit-generating engines for automakers, particularly the Detroit three, which continue to dominate the segment. With each new generation, the competition grows fiercer, though GM has no intention of yielding to Ram or Ford. "These are the crown jewels of my company," said Herrick. "I walk down the halls at GM and I get told, 'Don't screw it up because it's my retirement.' And you know, I don't take that lightly."

a version of this article first appeared on AutoGuide