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GM Losing Momentum To Ford In EV Wars, Will It Recover Lost Ground?

Recent reports have claimed that GM is losing precious ground and momentum to Ford as the race to electrification picks up steam. But what's really going on, and does GM have a chance to regain some lost ground?

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A report that recently caught our attention was from the folks at Barron's who claim that Ford is "eating GM's lunch" when it comes to electric vehicle implementation. While it will be interesting to see whether that pans out or not, we took a look at some of the challenges that GM faces in the EV market and whether there's any truth to back up some of the claims by skeptics.

GM Still Has Trace Amounts Of Old Culture In Its Sleek New Identity
SIlverado RST

A prominent one that immediately sticks out is some of the rigid inflexibility that still exists in some areas of GM's operations. While this toxic rigidness is not as bad as it was when GM and its decaying brand empire entered the bankruptcy process and was kept afloat by Uncle Sam, not all of it was exterminated by the ground-up revamp of the company.

An example of this is found at GM's dealer network. Cadillac dealerships recently made headlines when over 180 of them took a buyout option from GM versus undergoing extensive overhauls to help prepare them for the challenges and requirements of being a pure EV-focused experience once all the lineup ditches its ICE based origins.

While the reasons for taking the buyouts vary, the result is fewer opportunities for customers to learn and have first exposure to pure EVs. While many buyers turn to automotive news sites like this one to learn information about various automobiles, less tech-savvy customers still prefer to make the trek to their local auto dealership to look at and learn more about a potential purchase. For these customers, the sales team plays a vital role in guiding customers through the buying process and showing them some of the core essentials that a new owner will need to know before going home in their new purchase. Having fewer stores can slow the rate of adoption among buyers, and in some instances, will cause some customers to go to another brand for an EV purchase, especially those that prefer to buy from a store near their home.

GM Still Nursing Wounds From Bolt Recall
Bolt EV side profile

In addition to the shrinking dealer network, GM is still licking its wounds from the ongoing Bolt recall. While the company has made progression fixing affected Bolts, the size and scope of the recall have put GM under the microscope when it comes to quality. In turn, that has also caused some customers to be hesitant to go to GM for an electric vehicle which will undoubtedly make the introduction of Ultium to customers a trickier affair. Unlike the older battery technology used in the Bolt, Ultium was built from the ground up to incorporate GM's next-generation EV tech.

This technology promises greater range and performance, but since the technology is so young, it needs time to build a first impression with buyers who might be skeptical of it (especially if they hear news about the Bolt). GM (like Ford) has recorded strong early demand for its new lineup of EVs with the Hummer EV, Cadillac Lyriq and the Chevrolet Silverado EV all recording record early reservations. But the real measure of success will be after the flow of early adopters ceases and Ultium powered products transform into a mainstream offering for a wider net of buyers. These buyers will want something that makes a good first impression and can live up to some of the considerable hype generated by GM's marketing department.

It will be interesting to see what will happen once GM has all of the pieces of the broader Ultium sales puzzle in place, and while Ford does have an early lead over GM in some EV sectors (though we disagree with Barron's assessment), look for it to be short-lived. The company has made numerous deals and partnerships over the past few years as it aims to solidify and bulk up its green manufacturing arm to try and keep up with growing consumer demand.

Photo Credit: General Motors

Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. In addition to his specialization with Ford, he grew up in a General Motors household and is extensively familiar with their products too. Contact Carl on Twitter at @CarlMalek3, on Instagram and Facebook for automotive news to send news tips.

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