The GM Game Plan

March 28th, 2018 by

A hand is shown drawing a game plan on a chalk board.

It’s safe to say that Chevy knows a thing or two about staying up-to-date with current automotive trends. The company dates all the way back to 1911 before the Ford Model T was even in mass production. Since that time, during a century’s worth of automotive development, Chevy cars have continued to change with the times. No company finds success without knowing how to adapt, perhaps even evolve, in a way that customers expect.As advanced technology and automation have become more common in most vehicles these days, the question of “what is next” remains. Even as technology continues to evolve along with general automotive design, the next best thing is always on the horizon. Recently, GM, the owner of Chevrolet, announced their own plans that will answer this question for the foreseeable future.What is next for GM and the automotive industry? They are putting their money on electric vehicles. It’s no secret that more and more people are becoming attracted to the idea of all-electric or hybrid technology as the sustainable fuel in the future. While some countries, like the US, continue to double down on oil and gas, a good majority of the globe is slowly making moves to phase out or ban traditional fossil fuels altogether. GM is counting on the continued growth and demand for electric car technology in the future for survival. If they’re right, they just might be in a better position to do business internationally as regulations and demands change.

The GM Game Plan

What does it look like when your company decides to make a drastic shift away from technology that has defined an entire industry for a century? In the case of GM, it looks like an insane bid at first.The automotive giant announced plans to make an all-electric, zero emission line of cars, trucks, and SUVs that will eventually completely replace its current lineup. Currently, the plan uses a gentle rollout to introduce new electric and hybrid models over the next few years. Starting in 2019, GM will include two new fully electric models. By 2023, the company hopes to have 18 more models introduced.The specifics of this rollout are still vague at best. For example, the company hasn’t directly expressed how many of these models will be entirely new designs versus upgraded redesigns of existing, popular models. It would be silly to think that a company like GM would completely abandon highly in-demand models like the Corvette, Camaro, Silverado, and more. Chevy’s popular truck line, alone, relies on a dedicated consumer base that includes owners attracted to that classic, gasoline or diesel infused sound of a V8 engine.Despite the grand plans, GM’s current success and size in the automotive industry could be problematic. Because of the popularity of many of their models and the expectations customers have of them, it may prove difficult for the company to make such a pivot.

The Challenges of Going All Electric

It is easy to say you’re going to go all electric in the next decade. Words are easy to make. Designing and producing the technology required to transition an entire line of drivetrains and motors is another feat altogether.First, there are the practical and technological challenges to making such a transition. All electric technology, including the motors, batteries, and control systems that tie everything together, has become more established in recent years thanks to the efforts of companies like Tesla, Toyota, and others. More importantly, there’s still room for improvement. In order to really sell the technology, all automotive manufacturers making such a switch will need to up their game. Very few consumers will accept such a drastic change if the new technology is unable to keep up or outperform the existing engines and drivetrains.Tradition is another barrier GM will likely face. Because successful brands like Chevrolet have come to define certain trends and aspects related to the automotive industry, it may be difficult to essentially toss all of that out the window. This is, after all, one of the brands that had a hand in defining the American-made muscle car tradition. It’s hard to go away from that signature sound of a Chevy engine when its replacement is virtually silent.

To really overcome these obstacles, GM will have to rethink its advertising strategy and overall brand. It’s not enough to make great cars anymore. The demands of customers and countries alike will drive and shape the course of GM’s automotive design.

An electric vehicle is shown charging.

2021 Updates to the Game Plan

It’s been a few years since we looked at the plan that GM had laid out for itself – to move toward an all-electric future with innovative and impressive new cars, trucks, and SUVs. Since our previous look at the plan in 2018, GM hasn’t been sitting idly or just hoping that somehow things would work out; they’ve been hard at work achieving the goals they set for themselves. A tremendous amount of time, money, and energy have gone into creating new technology and working on a fleet of impressive new vehicles that will make their EV plans a reality.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest innovations and developments that have helped move GM in the right direction for achieving its goals. Just keep in mind that things are moving so fast; by the time you read this, they’ve probably already done even more to move in that direction. It’s hard to keep up with such a fast-moving industry, which is why it pays to keep coming back and learning about what’s new.

The Ultium Battery Platform

Perhaps the single biggest step toward an all-electric future and achieving the goals in their game plan, which GM has taken, is the development of the Ultium battery platform. Developed in a partnership with LG Energy Solution, this is the battery platform for all of GM’s EV models right now and for the foreseeable future. This has been a massive aspect of their EV lineup because it creates a single platform that all of their models can utilize. Rather than trying to create a good battery solution for each EV model individually, this creates a foundation that every model can then be built upon.

Any battery platform would’ve worked well for that purpose, however, but the Ultium has a few things going for it that truly make it exceptional. For starters, the Ultium batteries deliver more power and are less expensive to make than the EV batteries that GM had been using before. This means their vehicles can go further, are quicker to charge, and can be priced lower than prior to the development of the Ultium platform. Even better, their innovative nickel cobalt manganese aluminum design means they require less cobalt and so they’re easier to make.

One of the biggest drawbacks with EV batteries up to this point is a lack of recycling options – most have been made without recycling in mind at all. This makes recycling or reusing EV batteries very difficult and cost-prohibitive. The Ultium batteries were designed so that 100% of returned batteries can be reused or recycled – reducing waste, keeping costs low, and delivering on a more responsible all-electric future.

Finally, where most EV batteries are cylindrical – kind of like a large AA battery – the Ultium batteries are flat and rectangular. This means they can be stacked and arranged in many different configurations, letting GM’s engineers position them in the way that’s best for each individual model. The brilliant part of this design is that this single platform can be used for a family-friendly hatchback, a powerful pickup truck, and a high-performance sports car without diminishing the driving experience of each type of vehicle.

Huge Investments

“Money talks,” as the saying goes, so while developing impressive new technology in the Ultium battery platform is great, it’s also just one part of the puzzle. To really see how committed to an all-electric future GM is, all you have to do is look at how they’ve been investing over the last few years. According to their plan, they’ll invest $35 billion globally into EV development through 2025. This includes $2.3 billion in a Lordstown, Ohio plant to manufacture Ultium batteries, $2 billion invested in their Spring Hill, Tennessee plant to transition to EV manufacturing, and more than $400 million invested into their Orion Township, Michigan assembly plant to produce more EV models.

A blue 2022 Chevy Bolt EV is shown from the front driving on an open road.

The Chevy Bolt EV

Speaking of the EV models that GM is producing, let’s take a look at them, starting with the Chevy Bolt EV. This has been the EV flagship for Chevy for a few years now, and it’s a sporty hatchback that’s a lot of fun to drive. It’s proven itself year after year as a great EV model for families and anyone looking to get a taste of what all-electric performance feels like.

The Chevy Bolt EUV

Based on the Bolt EV platform, the Bolt EUV is a new model that expands on the hatchback to offer a compact SUV option. By using the Bolt EV platform, Chevy was able to develop this model quickly and get a second fantastic all-electric option to their customers. There will certainly be more EUV models available in the future, so this represents a terrific taste of what’s to come in the years ahead.

The Chevy Silverado EV

Speaking of the years ahead, one model that a lot of people are excited about is the all-electric Silverado EV that Chevy has announced. So far, they’re keeping things pretty well under wraps on this, so we don’t have a ton of information about it just yet. That being said, we can’t wait to see what it has to offer and how Chevy will dominate the EV pickup market the same way they have with the standard Silverado for the last 20 years.

The GMC Hummer EV

One of the most exciting returns in the auto industry in the last couple of years is the all-new GMC Hummer EV – replacing the historically gas-hungry Hummer of the past with an all-electric beauty. This is a huge test for the Ultium battery platform and will really show what it has to offer for large and powerful vehicles; no doubt the engineers at Chevy are learning from the Hummer’s development as they work on the Silverado EV. The Hummer EV will first release as a Pickup, with an SUV version to come in the next year or so.

A silver 2022 GMC Hummer EV is shown off-roading in a desert after looking at Chevy cars.

The Cadillac Lyriq

For a lot of people, Cadillac is among the most important brands in GM’s lineup, so they’re not going to leave them out of their EV game plan. First up is the Lyriq, which will introduce the world to what a modern EV Cadillac will look and feel like. This SUV will really showcase how well the Ultium battery platform can be put to use in a luxury model and deliver some of the most impressive interior comfort and technology we’ve ever seen.

The Cadillac Celestiq

GM will follow up the Lyriq with the Cadillac Celestiq, their all-new flagship sedan that will offer unmatched sophistication. This beauty won’t hit the road for a couple of years yet, but when it does, it will revolutionize what we expect from a four-door luxury vehicle. From its all-electric all-wheel drive system to its four transparent glass roof panels that can each individually be set between fully transparent or opaque – the Celestiq will be a technological marvel.

More on the Horizon

Of course, despite how amazing all of this looks, it’s only the beginning; this is just the start of GM’s developments and the initial showcase for everything they have to offer. GM has committed to introducing 30 EV models across the globe by 2025, and they plan on having an all-electric lineup of vehicles by 2035 with a goal of being carbon neutral by 2040. Those are some impressive targets to aim for; from what we’ve seen of the Ultium battery and the lineup coming in the next few years, however, it seems well within their reach.

A Promising Future

There’s no doubt that GM and other auto manufacturers making the switch have their work cut out for them. That doesn’t mean, however, that all is hopeless. The technology itself continues to evolve and improve. Since more and more companies are joining this bandwagon, the research and development of all-electric drivetrains will likely continue to increase exponentially until it is ready for mainstream use.The far more difficult task will be changing the expectations, traditions, and other intangible aspects that brands like Chevy cars have set in place for the past century. This might not be much of an issue in most international markets, but GM will have to up its marketing game to entice a good majority of American consumers who may be stuck in the “old school” way of doing things.The reality of the situation is simple regardless of the challenges: GM needs to make this transition in order to survive in the future. Whether it is all electric drivetrains, hydrogen fuel cells, solar technology, or something new that hasn’t gained traction yet, change is the one sure thing. Old gas guzzling engines will soon be on borrowed time. To take advantage of the situation, GM is smart in making this announcement now. Since several competitors have already established their own plans, interests, and even first few steps towards an all-electric future, GM needs to avoid playing catch up. If they can really deliver on their promises in the next five years, the company will be in a great position to retain a top-tier position in this new automotive industry.

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