Flying cars, promises of electric sports cars, elegant flagships, a new business unit, and an update on the electric vehicle tech that makes it all possible. It was all wrapped up in a lengthy presentation by General Motors, led by GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, at the entirely virtual 2021 edition of CES (which was once upon a time known as the Consumer Electronics Show). It was a lot to unpack from behind a computer screen, but here are the highlights:
Cadillacs, Real and Imagined
The most whimsical part of the presentation included a pair of Cadillac concepts. One was a flying machine, a vertical takeoff and land creation that looks like a cross between a helicopter and a drone. No word on making this personal Cadillac aircraft a reality, or whether it’d come with Opera windows or some other “personal luxury coupe” touches.
Then there is the autonomous ride-sharing pod with a white couch rimming the inside. It has a glass roof and sliding doors.
Closer to the real world, but still years away, there is the new Cadillac flagship sedan, the Cadillac Celestiq full-size electric car with handcrafted detail and top-end materials. Closest to reality is the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq midsize electric SUV with an emphasis on LED lighting inside and out.
Chevy and Buick Pipelines
Chevy will get a sporty and muscular midsize electric SUV which will introduce a new headlight design for the brand and feature bold stitching, an 18-inch curved OLED screen, and ambient lighting inside. Size-wise, this two-row crossover SUV is similar to the Cadillac Lyriq. The high-performance Chevy makes us think electric Corvette, but it could be something altogether wilder.
Buick has three electric vehicles in the works, two of them crossovers with the same wheelbase but intended for different consumers. One is lower, more athletic, and geared more toward couples. The other sits higher, has more cargo room, and is roomier for a family. They are slightly smaller than the Chevy and Cadillac midsize crossovers, but the 30-inch curved OLED screen they’ll feature will be one of the biggest in the industry.
GMC Hummer Electric Vehicles
There is a lot of buzz around the 2022 GMC Hummer EV SUT full-size electric pickup truck. With 1,000 hp, GM says it will do zero-60 mph in 30 seconds. We are also told it will offer one-pedal driving in terrain mode for low-speed off-road crawling. The truck will be followed by the 2023 GMC Hummer EV SUV that essentially closes in the truck bed to create an SUV.
New Bolt and Bolt EUV To Be Revealed in February
New Business Created for Commercial Delivery Customers
BrightDrop is a new business from GM that will provide smart, connected products for commercial delivery companies. GM will offer the EP1, an electric pallet for loading parcels at the warehouse, and which slides nicely into the EV600 electric delivery van GM has developed. FedEx provided input, helped with a pilot project, and will get the first 500 vans, starting later this year.
GM is investing $27 billion to develop electric and autonomous vehicles with plans to offer 30 all-electric vehicles globally by the end of 2025. Global market penetration stands at about 3 percent now but GM believes that is all about to change, Barra says. She feels the industry is at an inflection point, when reliance on gas- and diesel-powered vehicles will begin transitioning to an electric future.
The raft of new vehicles coming are on the new BEV3 platform that uses the Ultium battery system developed with LG Chem that GM says will offer up to 450 miles on a single charge.
Deeper Look at Ultium Battery System
Ultium’s single cell design can be used in any vehicle and provides 60 percent more energy capacity than current cells, Mei Cai, GM lab group manager, says. The stackable battery packs also allow GM to create modules to put higher density into smaller spaces. The modules also become part of the vehicle structure and use 90 percent less wiring for optimal performance and charging capacity. The end result is 450 miles of range from a single charge, provided with 40 percent less cost and 30 percent less weight. And work on the next generation is already underway, which will increase range to 500-600 miles per charge with another huge increase in battery density.