General Motors has some bold plans to electrify its line-up during the next few years, and it’s determined to prove that point, preparing to introduce an array of new models including a second battery-powered pickup for the GMC brand.
The brand this month started deliveries of its Hummer EV pickup, and it already announced what will become the second battery model, the GMC Hummer EV SUV. Today, it is teasing its third BEV model — and second pickup, the GMC Electric Sierra Denali.
“Sierra Denali holds tremendous equity for GMC and our customers,” said Duncan Aldred, GMC vice president. “We now have an opportunity to evolve Sierra’s capabilities and technologies, as afforded by transitioning to an all-electric propulsion while also elevating the luxurious design and comfort associated with Denali.”
What’s in store
All told, General Motors will bring at least 30 battery-electric vehicles to market by 2030. The GMC Hummer pickup will be the first addition to the line-up since the Chevrolet Bolt EUV debuted two years ago. And it will be the first to make use of the new Ultium technology the automaker is developing. That includes a new type of lithium-ion batteries, as well as several skateboard-like platforms that will underpin the new models.
A truck-like “architecture” will be used in both Hummer models, as well as the Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup set to be revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas during the first week of January. It also will underpin the GMC Electric Sierra Denali. All four of these truck-like models are set to be assembled at the Factory Zero plant in Detroit.
It’s unclear when the electrified Sierra will have its official debut though the timing of today’s tease suggests that should happen sometime early in the New Year. Production, however, appears likely to have to wait until after the launch of the Hummer SUV, meaning late in 2022 or even into 2023.
The automaker isn’t saying much for the moment, but the teaser image released on Wednesday shows the battery version of the pickup will have a markedly different front end design compared to the conventional, gas-powered model.
A new look for a new truck
That should be no surprise. Automakers not only want their BEVs to stand out but also need to enhance aerodynamics to improve range and performance.
The traditional Sierra grille appears downsized and will likely be sealed, since there’s no need to push air under the hood with batteries and motors mounted below the load floor. The image shows a more sleek front end, with oversized, L-shaped lamps and — in keeping with the current EV trend — a lit GMC badge. A video shows sequentially flashing turn signals just above the bumper.
The Electric Sierra Denali’s hood is highly sculpted and doesn’t seem that much smaller than the one on a conventional version of the pickup. That would strongly suggest a large “frunk” underneath. That would be a competitive necessity considering the massive front trunk offered on the upcoming Ford F-150 Lightning is one of its big selling points.
And, without a conventional internal combustion drivetrain, there’ll be no driveshaft, freeing up space in the cabin and, possibly, elsewhere. The new Rivian R1T positions a cross-tunnel storage space below its bed and ahead of the rear wheels.
As for the platform the Electric Sierra, Hummer EV pickup and other models rely on, it was designed for truck applications in mind. That means the capability of offering greater ground clearance, for one thing. But it also allows for a two-tiered layout of GM’s new Ultium batteries.
That could push well north of 100 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion cells. That would be critical to maintaining good range, especially when towing or when the bed is fully loaded. In line with the Lightning and R1T, expect range that could reach 300 miles — though a smaller battery pack could be an option. And towing capacity, sources have suggested, likely will run north of 6,000 pounds.