GM really wants to produce an electric pickup truck, as confirmed by General Motors President Mark Reuss, who recently spoke about future GM product plans at the UBS Global Industrials and Transportation Conference.
“We will have a complete electric lineup, including a pickup truck that’s in development,” Reuss said during the conference. The confirmation echoes similar statements made by GM CEO Mary Barra last April during an earnings call with investors.
“We intend to build on our truck leadership,” Barra said during the call, adding, “We intend to create an all-electric future that includes a complete range of EVs, including full-size pickups.”
Barra’s statements were offered as clarification following news coverage of GM’s failed tie-up with EV producer Rivian. Earlier this year, GM sought to purchase a stake in the Michigan-based startup, but eventually backed out, prompting a $500 million investment from Ford. Rivian already has its own electric pickup truck ready for launch next year that claims to offer 410 miles of range and is priced around $70,000.
The concept of an electric pickup truck is a relatively new one, at least from a commercially viable, mass-production standpoint. However, with recent developments in EV technology, including battery tech, the electric pickup concept is starting to gain traction.
During his talk at the UBS Conference, Reuss acknowledged GM’s upcoming third-gen global EV platform as integral to the company’s aspirations to produce an electric pickup truck. The architecture will offer huge flexibility, and can support up to 10 different body styles, multiple battery configurations, and a variety of pricing points.
“This architecture is the canvas on which we will paint a profitable EV program,” Reuss said. “We can build everything on this (platform) from just three drive units: front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive or e-all-wheel-drive.”
However, as Reuss admits, battery costs are a significant hurdle to profitably making an electric pickup. That said, EV tech costs are falling, while internal-combustion engine (ICE) configurations are under pressure from increasing regulation.
“We’re going to reach parity a lot sooner than people think,” Reuss said. “(ICE) compliance will become expensive. All these things and more will lead to greater consumer acceptance of EVs, plus they are going to be great cars.”
“That’s why we’re maximizing our effort and resources to make the future electric,” Reuss added.
While GM seems excited to offer a new electric pickup and a wide array of other EVs, customers are less enthusiastic, and it’s likely many buyers will be hesitant to make the switch, especially if those customers depend on their truck for work.
Indeed, there are many concerns associated with this emerging segment. Price is one of them, and even though EV development and production costs are falling, the ICE alternatives are still quite a bit cheaper. Charging solutions and range are also potential pitfalls, although GM will partly address this through a new partnership with Bechtel to build charge stations across the country.
An electric pickup would come with its own unique benefits as well. Beyond the obvious fuel savings and zero local emissions, all-electric powertrains also provide loads of low-end torque, which is great for hauling and towing, not to mention off-roading. What’s more, an electric pickup could also provide electricity at a worksite or campsite, essentially working as a mobile generator.
But critics aren’t entirely wrong when they classify GM’s electric pickup development as “forcing” an unwanted segment into reality, especially when the gas-and diesel-powered pickup offerings continue to sell so well. But with GM’s primary rival, Ford, developing an all-electric F-150, plus Tesla working on a truck of its own, GM’s efforts could fall into the category of “better safe than sorry.”
Source: Wards Auto