General Motors will build an all-electric pickup, CEO Mary Barra said Tuesday, confirming a report that first appeared in TheDetroitBureau.com in February.
The executive declined to provide details about the project, but the news took few industry observers by surprise considering that Ford and Tesla have also announced plans to build all-electric trucks, as has Detroit-based start-up Rivian.
GM “will not cede our leadership” in the truck segment, Barra said during a conference call with industry analysts and media to discuss the automaker’s first-quarter earnings.
(Click Here for our initial, exclusive report on GM’s electric pickup plans.)
“Certainly it’s something we’re considering,” Duncan Aldred, the head of the GMC division, told TDB when asked about the possibility of building an electric pickup. Aldred underscored his comment by noting that GM CEO Barra last year outlined what she described as a “path to an all-electric future” which, by its nature, would suggest that the automaker would eventually opt to electrify every vehicle in its line-up.
Soon after Aldred discussed the idea of a GM battery pickup rumors began circulating that the automaker was negotiating a deal with Rivian. The start-up unveiled two all-electric models at last November’s Los Angeles International Auto Show, the R1T pickup and the R1S sport-utility vehicle, but it needed a cash infusion to put them into production.
The negotiations fell through around two months ago, however, and Rivian subsequently began talking to Ford Motor Co. The two announced a deal last week that will see Ford invest $300 million into the start-up.
The surprising news from that announcement is that Ford won’t use the technology from the R1T for its battery pickup. It is already well into the development of an electrified architecture of its own for the F-150. Instead, Rivian will provide the skateboard-like platform that will be used in another, unspecified Ford model.
(For more on Ford’s deal with Rivian, Click Here.)
As for Tesla, the automaker has already offered some teaser images of its own pickup and is expected to provide further details on the truck in the months ahead.
The breakdown of talks with Rivian doesn’t appear to be posing a major problem for GM, though several observers suggest it could mean the domestic auto giant will now take longer than expected to bring an electric pickup to market.
(Strong pickup sales drive GM’s Q1 earnings. Click Here for the story.)
Exactly when – and in what form – it will appear is uncertain. Tim Herrick, the head of development for the Chevrolet Silverado said last year that GM has future-proofed the pickup, meaning it can be outfitted with a broad array of powertrain options, including gas, diesel and anything from a mild hybrid to a pure battery-electric system.
“It’s certainly possible they would do one on the current platform but I think it’s more likely they would wait for the next generation platform,” said Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst with Navigant Research.
Abuelsamid also suggested that GM might opt to deliver a surprise by coming up with an all-electric version of its midsize Chevy Colorado or GMC Canyon trucks which would give them a chance to have a unique product in the market because everyone is focusing on full-size trucks.”
As for timing, few expect GM to have an all-electric pickup in the market before 2022, and perhaps not until 2025, depending upon which of its options it goes with.