Back in 2017, GM Authority exclusively revealed that General Motors was planning to base all its future vehicles on four vehicle sets by 2025. The move, known internally as the Vehicle Set Strategy, or VSS, would come to represent a substantial migration from the automaker’s then-current 26 platforms.
The four sets would be VSS-F (for front-wheel drive cars), VSS-R (for rear-wheel drive cars), VSS-S (for crossovers) and VSS-T (for trucks and body-on-frame SUVs). In each case there would be subsets, to cater for different sizes of vehicles and classes, but essentially any vehicle using a particular set would be closely related to any other.
We are now halfway between 2017 and 2025, so what is happening with the strategy? It still exists, but it almost certainly won’t be as comprehensive as we had good reason to report four years ago. “At this point, VSS won‘t happen to the degree that we initially planned,” Tim Herrick, GM VP, global product programs, confirmed to GM Authority executive editor, Alex Luft, in a recent interview.
The reason for this is GM’s commitment to launching 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025, announced by CEO Mary Barra during a Barclay’s conference in November of 2020. The work required to make this possible, plus the planned $27 billion investment, made it effectively impossible to continue with the vehicle set strategy as planned.
At the heart of the electric vehicle commitment is the new GM BEV3 platform. This architecture features a “skateboard-type” design, with the batteries contained within the vehicle’s wheelbase. It is so modular that it can be used for just about any conceivable future GM unibody EV, while larger electric trucks and SUVs – those we typically considered to be body-on-frame – will ride on the GM BT1 platform.
Even a company as large and profitable as General Motors would struggle to deliver on its broad electric vehicle plans at the same time as completing the massive undertaking involved that would have been VSS. In fact, GM Authority would go so far as to speculate that the last-ever traditional GM platform for ICE vehicles already exists today.
In support of this, consider the case of the upcoming 2023 Chevy Colorado and 2023 GMC Canyon midsize pickup trucks. Years ago, these were slated to ride on an all-new architecture known internally as GMT-32XX, which would also serve as the basis of a new GMC model rivaling the Jeep Wrangler and new Ford Bronco. But now, the next-generation Colorado and Canyon will in fact use an evolution of the current GMT 31XX platform, while the Wrangler and Bronco fighter was cancelled. The same appears to be taking place for the future Cadillac XT5, which will be overhauled on the existing C1 platform.
Since this has already happened twice, it will likely continue to take place on other projects and vehicles. In fact, all future GM ICE vehicles are likely to be based on platforms in existence today – a perhaps unexpected, and certainly surprisingly early, result of GM’s electric revolution.