Jan 5, 2022 - Economy

GM's electric onslaught: Pickups, SUVs and delivery vans

The Chevy Silverado pickup

The electric Chevy Silverado pickup. Photo courtesy of GM.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra on Wednesday outlined the next steps in the company's aggressive electric vehicle rollout, including a plug-in Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup truck and two SUVs, while demand for its electric delivery vans grows.

Why it matters: Pickups and SUVs are the heart of the U.S. vehicle market. Sales of electrified versions — if they take off — would help GM toward its goal of ending sales of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.

GM's latest rollout and Barra's speech put more meat on the bones of GM's plan to invest $35 billion in electric and autonomous technologies in the 2020-2025 period and roll out over two-dozen electric models.

Driving the news: In a virtual keynote address at CES, Barra detailed the steps GM is making in its quest to lead the industry in electric vehicles.

The new Silverado was the star of the show, redesigned from scratch based on GM's flexible Ultium EV platform.

  • But Barra also announced plans for a Chevrolet Equinox EV starting around $30,000 and a Chevy Blazer EV, both coming in 2023.

The other big news came from GM's Brightdrop commercial fleet subsidiary, whose electric vans are in high demand from companies like Walmart and FedEx.

  • FedEx, which just put the first of 500 Brightdrop EV600 vans into service recently, ordered another 2,000 of the vans to for deployment in the next few years.
  • FedEx Express Regional President of the Americas Richard Smith wants to buy tens of thousands of more vehicles from GM.
  • "Brightdrop is real. Their trucks are here now. They have a vehicle that works as advertised, and we love it and we want to buy a lot more of them."
  • Walmart, meanwhile, plans to use BrightDrop electric vans as part of its growing InHome delivery service, which sends trained Walmart employees to deliver fresh groceries directly into the customer’s kitchen or garage refrigerator.

Here's what GM shared about the upcoming Silverado pickup:

  • Two versions will be available to start — a loaded RST First Edition priced at $105,000 and a basic work truck (WT) for commercial fleet customers.
  • Both trucks will get an estimated range of 400 miles on a full charge, according to GM, and their 350-kW DC fast-charging capability means owners can add about 100 miles of EV range in 10 minutes.
  • The trucks feature up to 10 outlets that provide a total of 10.2 kW of electric power for a job site or campsite. The trucks can even be used to recharge another EV.
  • The fleet-oriented WT goes into production in spring 2023, and the RST First Edition launches in fall 2023. Additional versions starting at $39,900 will launch later in the 2024 model year.

The big picture: Transportation is the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so the speed of EV penetration is one factor that will determine the future of those CO2 levels.

The Biden administration has set a non-binding goal of 50% of all new cars sold in 2030 in the U.S. to be zero-emissions models, including electric and hydrogen fuel cell models.

  • GM and several other auto giants have endorsed a 40%-50% aspiration, but cautioned that significant policy changes are needed.
  • However, President Biden's major climate legislation — which includes greatly expanded consumer incentives and other EV provisions — remains stalled on Capitol Hill.

The bottom line: Between its electric pickups — Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra and GMC Hummer — its expanding portfolio of Cadillac and Chevrolet passengers SUVs and crossovers and its Brightdrop electric vans, GM claims it will have the broadest range of electric vehicles.

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