During GM’s first-quarter financial conference call this week, CEO Mary Barra confirmed that the carmaker is finally working on an all-electric pickup. Unfortunately, Barra didn’t have much more to say on the subject — at least for now.
You’d think for a company like General Motors that claims its future is electric and has a not-so-secret love affair with trucks would have confirmed an electric pickup truck sooner … and when it did, it’d have more to say on the subject.
So, if the General doesn’t have much news to make on the subject of an all-electric truck, why say it now?
Presumably, the big reason is Ford’s announcement of its $500 million investment in pure-electric truck maker Rivian last week. Together Rivian and Ford will develop another EV truck that will ride on Rivian’s skateboard platform. This, in addition to Ford’s already promised all-electric F-150 pickup.
I guess facing a future of a Ford-dominated electrified truck market forced GM brass to cry uncle and commit to building at least one electric truck.
Now, it’s not clear if GM would use its forthcoming third-generation battery-electric vehicle architecture called BEV3 to underpin a unibody electric truck like that of Rivian’s or if it will simply sling batteries between the frame rails of its new T1 truck chassis. Heck, it could even use the Bolt EV platform to make a third vehicle, following its planned $300 million investment in a second Bolt EV variant, which will be built in Michigan.
There are good arguments for the former two options over the latter. BEV3 is firstly intended to lift Cadillac to the forefront of the luxury electric vehicle market with a new pure-electric crossover. That said, Caddy’s lineup has been without a pickup since the Escalade EXT model was axed in 2013. Perhaps a mid-size BEV3-based luxury truck could find a nice spot in the middle of the Cadillac lineup.
Alternately, using the Silverado’s new chassis fitted with battery packs, GM could do battle with the forthcoming electric F-150 pickup.
Then again, if GM’s love of V8-engine development is any indication, the General could instead opt to make a new all-electric platform specifically designed for trucks and SUVs. That would put the product development cycle well behind that of Ford’s, though. So, I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that GM will do what’s easiest and slap some batteries underneath a Silverado and call it good.
If GM really wanted to distinguish itself and highlight its performance bona fides, as it did with the all-electric e-COPO Camaro concept, it could produce the first mass-market performance pickup. More than beat Tesla’s Semi to market, a performance EV truck could be Chevrolet’s shot across the bow of the Ford F-150 Raptor — a product that GM has suspiciously never challenged.
There’d be no more distinctive way to garner positive mass-media EV headlines than to reveal an all-electric performance truck. Sure, Chevy might not sell many of them. Still, it’d grow awareness for GM’s EV prowess and put Ford back on its heels at the same time.