General Motors plans to have 30 electrified vehicles in global showrooms by 2025. In fact, they recently said that number would expand, yet only a handful have been confirmed. Now, a new GMC Hummer video drops a tantalizing hint that a new battery-electric Camaro is in the works.
The tease comes at the video’s end, when GM shows its Ultium battery pack against a black background. This is followed by three quick outlines of a pickup truck, a crossover SUV, and a car that looks suspiciously like today’s Camaro. An all-electric version of the muscle car has been rumored for some time, but not confirmed.
Going electric with the Chevrolet Camaro might seem counterintuitive if you think back to early BEVs that were slow, stodgy – and just plain boring to drive. But manufacturers like GM have suddenly discovered that one of the benefits of electric motors is the massive torque they can deliver. Tesla is demonstrating that with the new Model S Plaid which, it claims, can hit 60 in less than 2 seconds. Dodge, meanwhile, confirmed this week that it will build an all-electric muscle car with similar performance aspirations. And Ford just upped the pony count of its Mustang Mach-E with the addition of a GT model.
Ultium the key to GM’s future products
GM is working on numerous “Ultium” EV architectures to use for its upcoming wave of battery-electric vehicles. At a media backgrounder last year it showed off an assortment of future products. Some, like two Buick SUV prototypes, are aimed primarily at the Chinese market. But the company has now confirmed others targeting the U.S. and other global regions, including the Cadillac Lyriq and the GMC Hummer SUV and SUT pickup truck. It has also announced plans to build an electric version of the Silverado pickup. That truck is expected to deliver as much as 400 miles of range, although further details have yet to be released.
GM’s EV architecture uses a skateboard-like platform, which locates the motors, batteries and key components at the bottom of the vehicle. It’s a concept created by GM in 2003, but first put into production by Tesla. For its part, GM only adapted this approach in 2017 with the debut of the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Looking forward, this is the preferred layout virtually all manufacturers are taking as they shift to EVs.
But the Ultium skateboards can be used in various configurations with different lengths, widths and ride heights, as well as flexible battery packs. The GMC Hummer, for example, will have two motors in the back and one in front — with the extended-range battery pack stacking two layers of battery cells. The automaker has confirmed that the initial Hummer Edition 1 will deliver as much as 1,000 horsepower when it debuts late this year. That’s enough power to launch the electric vehicle to 60 mph in “around 3 seconds.” Given that the Hummer weighs more than 9,000 pounds, imagine what the Ultium technology can do in a vehicle that weighs half as much – say, in an all-electric Camaro.
Running with a fast crowd
Competition for GM’s vehicles is building. Tesla aside, Ford’s recently launched Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition delivers 480 horsepower and 634 pound-feet of torque, enough to reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Given its speed, it’s little wonder the vehicles are leaving dealer lots as soon as they arrive. In fact, the Mach-E is now outselling its pony car namesake. And the company’s recently announced all-electric F-150 Lightning garnered 44,000 advance reservations within two days after its introduction. While not as fast as the Mustang Mach-E, the F-150 Lightning’s performance is more than acceptable with a 4.5-second 0-60 time. (And TheDetroitBureau.com estimated the figure is actually closer to 3.5 seconds after spending time in a prototype at the Ford proving grounds in Romeo, Michigan recently.)
But an electric Camaro’s most potent competition might come from Stellantis, which yesterday announced that it would be producing an all-electric muscle car for Dodge. First reported by TheDetroitBureau.com in June, the electrified Dodge will be the fastest vehicle the muscle car the marque has ever offered, with a 0 – 100 kph (62 mph) time of about 2 seconds. That should give the Tesla Model S Plaid a real run for its money. The unnamed Dodge muscle car will be built on the new STLA Large platform, one four new EV skateboards parent Stellantis is developing. They will spawn 55 plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles by mid-decade. Some of those will be delivered by the company’s European performance brands, Alfa Romeo and Maserati.
Where’s the roar?
How will muscle car buyers react to all these new offerings? That’s far from certain. And there clearly will be those who lament the near silence of this new era of performance. But it’s hard to argue with the raw power that EVs can make — or the fact that traditional gas engines have just about hit their limit.
“Our engineers are reaching the practical limit of what we can squeeze from an internal combustion engine,” Dodge brand boss Tim Kuniskis said Thursday. “We know that electric motors can give us more.”
While it may be quieter, it looks as if the future will be far faster than ever before.
(Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.)