General Motors CEO Mary Barra teased a little something extra during her recent visit to Harvard University. The CEO told a crowd of 200 students that GM has given a “tiny bit” of thought on building an electric pickup truck.
The Detroit Free Press reported on the comment, but when Barra was pressed for more information on such a vehicle program she didn’t comment on future product. An electric pickup truck would be a first for the industry and it’s something rivals have already started working on.
The most notable is Tesla. CEO Elon Musk has teased an electric pickup truck for years and said via Twitter last December that he’s “dying” to challenge Ford, GM and FCA with an electric pickup truck. He’s also spelled out what such a vehicle from Tesla would include, such as “dual motor all-wheel drive [with] crazy torque [and] a suspension that dynamically adjusts for load” as standard.
GM has been at the relative forefront of electrification since the original Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid debuted, but it hasn’t applied much of its electrification efforts to pickup trucks. Instead, engineering has focused on making the current 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 engines more fuel efficient with technologies such as Dynamic Fuel Management. The cylinder deactivation technology allows for the trucks’ engines to run on as little as one cylinder in some driving scenarios.
The automaker did flirt with an electrified pickup truck most recently in 2016, however. Chevrolet added the Silverado E-Assist as an option for truck buyers in California. GM built just 500 units and said it would re-evaluate production for 2017, though it’s been a quiet front since then. The E-Assist used Chevrolet Volt components for an additional 13 hp and 44 lb-ft of torque from the electric motor and a 13-percent increase in city fuel economy, equipped with the 5.3-liter V8 engine. The truck also gained regenerative braking.
Perhaps GM has a something really different up its sleeve in an electric pickup truck. Surely, it will be honed specifically for North America as the pickup quickly becomes more than a workhorse for many buyers across the continent.