Stepping into the all-electric vehicle segment is a risky move. Just ask the GM EV1. While technologically advanced and ground-breaking in its own right, the EV1 was deemed unprofitable by General Motors and never got a real chance to succeed. Indeed, this segment is rife with peril.
Development costs are massive, with battery technology, electric motor technology and production retooling all taking their toll. The market is highly volatile as well, with demands that shift like the moods of a sullen teenager. To top it off, EVs are judged against the success of well-established internal-combustion rivals, despite the latter’s clear advantage in terms of infrastructure support and established history.
However, despite all the risks, the all-electric vehicle segment is also filled with opportunity. Just ask Tesla. Money hemorrhaging aside, Tesla continues to enjoy its position as the dominant force and go-to talking point in an emerging segment. If you want to build an EV, it’s gonna have to be some kind of “Tesla fighter.”
Which brings us to GM. It’s considered a “legacy” automaker, with more than 110 years of history to back it. However, despite its size and impressive resume, GM has also been criticized for its sluggish response to the EV segment and major players like Tesla.
We think the issue starts with branding. GM’s greatest strength lies in its brands. Customers don’t buy a “GM,” they buy a Cadillac, a GMC, a Chevrolet or a Buick. In fact, it’s not even necessarily common knowledge that Chevy and Cadillac are owned by GM in the first place. But while these brands have plenty of credibility when it comes to performance, or practicality, or luxury, they have far less sway in the more contemporary world of all-electric vehicles.
As such, we would like to make a proposal: GM should create a standalone brand specifically for the EV segment.
It would need to be sleek, futuristic and tech-savvy, with a fresh face to present to a skeptical buying public. It would need to shed all of GM’s baggage, and it would need a brand-new marketing strategy to boot, something that’s ahead of the trends rather than simply reacting to them. It would need to benefit from a separate dealership network and reimagine how people shop, buy and service their vehicles. So far, there’s nothing under the GM umbrella that can offer that kind of combination.
If this sounds a lot like when General Motors launched the Saturn brand in the late ’80s, you’re right. But this time around, with the potential of the EV market slowly growing, things would be different. There would be no badge engineering with this new EV brand, which arguably tainted Saturn’s original marketing strategy.
We could name a dozen new EV startups vying to provide everything listed above. But at the end of the day, every single one of ‘em doesn’t have the experience and resources of GM.
The question is this: is a new EV-specific brand exactly what GM needs? Let us know in the poll and voice your opinion in the comments section.