In a wide-ranging Consumer Electronics Show keynote address led by General Motors CEO Mary Barra, the automaker revealed significant new details about its push into electrification, announcing new projects and offering up more information about production programs already confirmed, notably including the GMC Hummer pickup set to reach market later this year, as well as the extended version of its current long-range EV, the Chevrolet Bolt EUV.
GM is set to kick off its big electrification push this year with the introduction of those two models, as well as the launch of production at a new battery plant in Ohio. The Ultium batteries it has developed as part of a joint venture with LG Chem will be smaller, lighter, cheaper and more powerful than those used in the current Bolt EV, the automaker revealed. But it also announced even more powerful and cheaper batteries are in development that could effectively bridge the cost gap with gas-powered products.
“Any vehicle can be an EV,” Aaron Pfau, lead development engineer on the Hummer project, said during an hourlong presentation, revealing new information about the program and the pickup itself.
First teased last winter during a widely watched Super Bowl commercial, the Hummer was formally unveiled in October. At the time, GM officials noted that the truck eventually will be offered in a number of configurations, the debut version, dubbed Edition 1, driven by three motors, one up front and two on the rear axle. All told, they will deliver a peak 1,000 horsepower and be capable of launching from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds.
“It has crazy amounts of power,” said Pfau in the CES presentation, noting GMC engineers have introduced several unique ways to put power to the pavement, taking advantage of the unique properties of electric motors.
For those looking for the thrill of a drag strip-style launch, the Hummer will offer a “Watts to Freedom Mode,” roughly the equivalent of the Launch Mode found in conventional performance vehicles like the Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro models.
A driver will be instructed to press down hard on both brake and throttle simultaneously. In the background, the Hummer’s digital control system will maximize cooling to the powertrain, including the battery pack, Pfau explained.
When given the signal, the driver will lift off the brake but leave the throttle pinned to the floor, the computer system also determining the right amount of power to apply to maintain grip during launch. Spinning the tires, no matter how good a smoky burnout looks, means slower launch times.
Meanwhile, Hummer will create “a fully immersive, sensory experience,” said Pfau. Since electric motors are virtually silent, the pickup will utilize the Sound Enhancement Mode of its Bose audio system, introducing a mix of guitar riffs and customized sounds created using feedback GMC got from the Formula E electric motor sports series.
Hummer also will offer a feature designed to enhance off-road driving, according to Pfau. Most of the latest EVs allow “one-pedal driving,” where lifting off the throttle creates the same effect as downshifting a transmission. This lets the vehicle regenerate energy normally lost during braking and coasting, extending range. Hummer will take things a step further.
When driving in “Terrain Mode,” the electric equivalent of shifting the transmission to low range, Hummer will offer a different version of one-pedal driving. The driver will have “a level of modulation (of the throttle) beyond what we could deliver” with a conventional gas or diesel engine, said Pfau. And it won’t require moving one’s foot back and forth between the gas pedal and the brake, making it easier to maneuver a rough trail, especially when crawling boulders or other obstacles.
Some of these features could wind up in use on other GM products, notably the all-electric pickup Chevrolet this past week confirmed is in late-stage development.
All told, GM CEO Barra said during the CES presentation, a total of 30 all-electric models will reach market by 2025. The automaker originally had planned to launch 20 by 2023. The GM CEO also noted that spending on all-electric, as well as autonomous vehicles, has been increased by almost a third, to $27 billion.
The rollout will begin mid-year with the debut of the Chevy Bolt EUV which, officials confirmed during the briefing, will become the first non-Cadillac model to be offered with the hands-free Super Cruise system.
An updated version of the standard-length Bolt EV also will roll out this year.
The CES session also offered confirmation that the exotic Cadillac Celestiq concept shown during a March 2020 media background session will be put into production. GM also is developing prototypes for a Caddy flying car and a fully driverless van as part of the Cadillac Halo project.