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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A white 2022 GMC Hummer EV is shown driving through a desert after visiting one the regions most popular GMC dealerships.

General (Electric) Motors: The Ultium Forecast

What a time to be alive! After decades of warnings about the influence of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment, the automotive industry is finally making real steps towards electrification, and I am 100% here for it. It’s not all solar panels and water-only emissions, but virtually every maker in the industry has pledged an ever-increasing degree of electrification for their lineups to make our air cleaner. It won’t be long before every lot in America, from Tesla shops to GM dealerships, offers a full range of electrified options.

Let’s take quick stock of the promises. Both Ford and GM plan to invest over $30 billion each in electrified vehicles by the end of this decade. Jaguar-Land Rover will have no tailpipe emissions by 2036. Both VW and Volvo target to sell over 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) each by 2025. Audi will be fully electric by 2033, GM – save for medium and heavy-duty vehicles – will be zero-emissions by 2035, and Mazda and Subaru will have electrified versions of every model in their lineups within 15 years.

Even by 2025, the numbers are staggering: 30 electrified Audis, 23 Hyundais, 6 Land Rover EVs, Jaguar will be all-electric, BMW will be up to 25% electrified, and Toyota will offer an incredible 60 electrified models.
Now, “electrified” isn’t the same as “electric” – it also includes hydrogen fuel-cell and hybrid powertrains in its umbrella. So it’s especially noteworthy when a maker like GM specifies that they’ll have 20 EVs in the North American market by 2025. The intrigue intensifies when you realize that’s only four years away, and we don’t even know what half of those models will be!

What Do We Know?

Chevy kicked off GM’s electric revolution with the Bolt EV and new-for-2022 Bolt EUV. The GMC Hummer EV and Hummer EV SUV surely count as models 3 and 4 respectively. If any of those models were news to you, hi! Welcome to 2021 – at least it isn’t 2020!

Perhaps less widely known are the upcoming Cadillac EVs, the Lyriq and Celestiq, which will be the first production vehicles to be sold on the Ultium battery platform. GM projects their proprietary battery platform will reduce the cost of the electrical system by 40-60% compared to the current Bolt EV, significantly improving accessibility to those of us who need to think about how much a vehicle costs.

Finally, there are two more electric GM vehicles that we know will be coming soon, and the impact of each will be huge: the driverless autonomous shuttle vehicle called the Cruise Origin and the electric variant of the Chevy Silverado 1500. While the Cruise Origin may be unfamiliar to many, it’s slated for production in 2023 with a detailed plan released to the public so we can follow its development. Details on the electric pickup, on the other hand, are scant. We know it’ll be electric, it’ll have 4-wheel steering, and it’s probably a safe bet that it’ll be every bit as good as the Ford F-150 Lightning. That’s really all we know as of the time of writing, but at least we know it’s coming.

A silver 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV is shown parked in on the side of a city street.

So, About the Other 12 Models…

That means GM has a full dozen electric vehicle announcements to make in the next four years. That’s one every four months, or once per season as they say in Canada (in case you’re wondering, those are winter, still winter, and road construction)! That’s plenty of fodder for juicy gossip and wild speculation, and I’m absolutely jumping on the guessing game bandwagon. Please note that all dates and model years are guesses on my part unless specified otherwise, but hey, that’s half of the fun!

So without further ado, maybe in the next three years, we’re going to learn about brand-new GM EVs like…

The 2023 Honda ER-V and 2024 Acura EDX

“Wait,” you say, “I thought we were talking about GM products here?!” Yes, we are, but due to their partnership with Honda-Acura to make a couple of crossovers on the Ultium platform, they’re bound to claim the as-of-yet unnamed SUVs, set for release in 2023 and 2024 respectively, as 2 of their 20 EVs. Feels like a cheap shot, but it wouldn’t be a lie. 10 to go!

The 2025 GMC Sierra 1500V

The upscale twin of the electric Silverado 1500 is inevitable. With an identical platform, there’s virtually no extra development cost needed to generate an entirely new EV this way. The last generation of the GM pickup lasted for five years and was replaced in 2019 – look for GM to do the same thing all over again. They’ll probably release a brand-new Silverado 1500 generation including the electric variant in 2024, then add the electric powertrain to the GMC Sierra 1500 in 2025 once the worst kinks have been worked out of the Chevy.

The 2024 Buick Encore GX-E

While the M.O. of electric vehicle design is traditionally small and oddly proportioned, I don’t think we’re going to see an electric Trax or Encore model – except for the Encore GX. While I expect the standard model to hit the scrap heap as soon as 2023, the GX is a new addition to the lineup that offers just a little bit more in every respect and has quickly become Buick’s most popular model. Given that Buicks already fetch a premium, it just doesn’t seem wise for their first EV to be either of the larger and less popular Envision or Enclave models – bet instead on seeing an Encore GX with an electric powertrain.

A blue 2022 Corvette Stingray is shown from the top.

The 2025 C9 Corvette

It feels a little soon to speculate on the C9 ‘Vette when the C8 is still so new, but with rumors circulating that even the C8 will get an electrified powertrain as soon as 2023, is it really such a stretch to imagine that they’ll turn it over to a new generation in 2025 with a fully electric powertrain? With the Model S Plaid and Taycan looking like starship Enterprise on the drag strip, every sports car manufacturer has got to have one eye fixed on how to use electric power to make the next big statement. Yes, the base model will have a raucous V8, as will the Z06, but there’ll be an electric powertrain too. Relax – there ain’t no way Chevy delivers the electric ‘Vette with a crossover body style. Right?

The Crossover Parade – Equinox, Terrain, Traverse, and Acadia Electric Equivalents

After the Silverado 1500, the Equinox and Traverse are easily the most popular Chevy vehicles on the market today. Why? Because minivans don’t exist anymore, but for some reason, children and soccer moms and dads do. With the lower cost of entry afforded by the Ultium platform, GM can cash in on their development work by making electric versions of the Chevy and GMC crossovers. This should stop GM customers who like the idea of EVs but haven’t yet moved on it from migrating to competitors like Tesla and VW, who are already establishing the electric crossover scene. The Bolt EUV is just a preview – a full lineup of Chevy and GMC EUVs is surely just a couple of years away.

Electric Compact Pickup Trucks – Chevy Cowboy, GMC Caldera

One might think, with an electric Silverado announced, that the Colorado might be next. However, the Colorado / Canyon pickup trucks are expected to be released as brand-new models in 2023. There’s no way that GM will toss this development aside to make an Ultium-based version by 2025. Instead, GM is going to do something new.

Power creep – the concept in video game design where a new weapon/car/character has to be better than those which exist to be interesting and generate revenue, forcing existing products to also be made better or face obsolescence – applies big-time to trucks. Every year both the Silverado and Colorado have gotten bigger and more powerful, to the point that today’s Colorado is about the same size and strength of the first-gen Silverado 1500s from the early ’00s. As a result, the compact truck segment that used to be occupied by the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado no longer exists.

Ford is re-inventing it with the recently announced Maverick, so it won’t surprise anyone when GM answers with a compact truck of their own. The shocker is going to be that the all-new compact Chevy Cowboy and GMC Caldera pickup trucks come standard on an Ultium electric platform!

A blue 2022 Chevy Spark is shown parked in front of a modern house.

Last but Not Least…

Chevy’s least popular model in terms of sales this year is being outsold nearly three times over by the Corvette and the Spark. The Spark! Not only that, its arch-nemesis, the model that it was designed to take down is selling twice as many cars and just came out with an electric variant of its own. Chevy will look to inject new life into its pony car when the 7th generation Camaro finally comes out by delivering the 2023 Chevy Camaro 1LEV, an all-electric variant built around the Ultium platform and the signature 1LE performance package.

Ford made one mistake when they named their impressive new electric crossover the Mustang Mach-E: they provoked Chevy. Remember that a Camaro is a “small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs,” as we all learned back in the 60’s when some ignorant reporter asked Chevy leadership, “By golly, what in the heck is a Camaro anyway?” GM will not make the mistake of putting their muscle car’s name on a crossover. They will electrify the car that has already been acknowledged as looking like a “robotic insect overlord,” and it’ll absolutely devour the Mach E.

Which’ll probably still outsell the electric Camaro by a factor of 5, but at least the 1LEV will be a coupe, dammit!

Raising Hairs and Eyebrows

Do you feel the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end? Hopefully, that has nothing to do with static discharge from the Ultium platform. We really don’t need that kind of attention on the electric car industry.

There are 12 as-of-yet unknown EVs in GM’s very near future if they’re going to meet their pledge of having 20 on the NA market by 2025. While they’re sure to claim the upcoming electric Honda and Acura crossovers, and an electric Sierra 1500 is all but a certainty with the electric Silverado being announced, the other nine really do seem to be a mystery at this point.

They’ll surely target the best bang for the buck, which I expect will mean generating an electric version of their most popular models like the Encore GX, Equinox, Traverse, Terrain, and Acadia, using name recognition to ensure that the EVs are a hit. While the same logic could extend to the Colorado/Canyon or Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon, the generational cycles for those models make me think they’ll be later to the Ultium party. It’s more likely that GM jumps into the compact truck ring with a pair of EVs, and reinvigorates their most iconic sports cars with a jolt of electric-only power if only to generate the hype of a 2.5-second 0-60 time.

Sure it’s a shot in the dark, but that’s the fun of the game! Do you disagree? Let us know what you think the next GM EVs are going to be!

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