Published on July 19, 2020 |
par Steve Hanley
July 19, 2020 by Steve Hanley
Last week, General Motors released its latest sustainability report. Buried in its nearly 200 pages, the company offered new information on its electric vehicle projects. Globally, The General will have 20 electric models available to customers by 2023, many of which are for the Chinese market. But at least 12 will also be sold in America.
The biggest surprise in the report is the news of a full-size pickup truck from Chevrolet that is said to have a range of 400 miles. No other details are available, which leaves open the question of whether it will be a Silverado clone or something completely different. Certainly, the Tesla Cybertruck, a smashing segment, has scratched their heads at the highest levels of GM, Ford and Dodge. Do they stick to what has worked for generations (which has generated huge profits for them year after year) or are they boldly embarking on new directions like Tesla has done? There’s no specified timeline, but by 2023 we should know how GM and the rest of the industry plan to respond to the Cybertruck.
According to Autoblog, Chevrolet plans to introduce a mid-size electric SUV before 2023. Could it be based on the Chevy Menlo available in China? A new version of the Bolt is also coming in around a year. Expect it to look a lot like the Buick Velite 7 now on sale in China. It is clearly a re-bodied bolt that is more SUV and less 5 hatchback doors. Whether this car will be made in China and imported to the United States or built in the United States is not yet known. According to CNET, the car will be the first non-Cadillac model to feature Super Cruise, GM’s semi-autonomous driver assistance technology.
Buick will also receive two new electric offers – one designed as a traditional vehicle with a cross shape to “maximize interior space and loading”, the other model with “more expressive proportions”. It might suggest something like the Buick Enspire concept that would have been approved for production.
Cadillac will lead
GM clearly intends its Cadillac division’s electric SUVs to lead its version of the EV revolution. The Lyriq electric SUV is expected to debut in August and will be joined over time by 3 more electric SUVs. One of them will be a “world-size” model that emphasizes interior space and three-row seats. A smaller SUV the size of the current XT4 is also planned, as well as a vehicle the size of an Escalade. As with the Chevy electric pickup, we don’t know if it will be an electrified Escalade echo or an entirely new vehicle.
Of the 12 new electric models from GM, only the Cadillac Celestiq is a sedan. This car would be the flagship of the brand’s ultra luxury, possibly similar to Daimler’s Maybach. It is rumored to be largely hand-built at the rate of 1.2 cars per day and priced at $ 200,000, making it the most expensive Cadillac ever.
3 Chevies, 2 Buicks and 5 Caddies. That’s 10. The other two electric offerings that will complete GM’s promise to bring 12 new electric vehicles to US buyers will be sold under the Hummer brand. One will be a pickup truck and the other will be an SUV. Details are scarce, but General Motors has always relied on badge engineering for a model to perform a double or triple function in the corporate structure. A vehicle can be a Chevrolet, a Buick or a Cadillac simply by sliding into more comfortable seats and typing a different name on the tailgate.
Chances are, the first Buick SUV mentioned above will also be the Cadillac mid-size electric SUV or the Chevy electric pickup will be a close corporate cousin to the Hummer. Will a Hummer SUV be materially different from the Escalade-style electric SUV offered? Seems unlikely.
GM has just unveiled its Ultium battery, developed in cooperation with LG Chem, and yet it is said to be already working on low or zero cobalt alternatives for the future. There are rumbles within GM of electric vehicles with a range of 400 miles or more. 600 miles may be possible one day. Fast charging up to 350 kW is also under development.
Obviously, battery prices will have to come down considerably before such long-range vehicles become possible. Imagine the cost of a 200 kWh battery today! A secondary question is whether the EV revolution is best served by such massive batteries. What is the range enough to convince people that they don’t have to worry about running out of battery? And isn’t it more important to build more 300-mile electric vehicles than a few 500-mile electric vehicles?
GM can work hard to bring electric vehicles to market, but it still seems to be following rather than leading the electric vehicle revolution. An electrified Commuter / Escalade or $ 200,000 sedan hardly seems to be as transformative as any of Tesla’s offerings to date, with more to come.
Last episode of CleanTechnica.TV
Last episode of Cleantech Talk