Mary Barra celebrates eight years as General Motors CEO tomorrow and today she held a fireside chat with members of the Automotive Press Association to discuss the future of the automaker. Earlier in the day, a vice president of GM said that the Chevrolet Silverado E electric truck will go into production in early 2023. Barra followed up on that news by saying she expects the Silverado E to be unmatched, because it is being built on a platform designed for electric vehicles. “I think when you see the timing that the Silverado will be available, and what that vehicle offers, I think is unmatched, said Barra. The Silverado EV will be built on the Ultium battery platform that will underpin 2022 GMC HUMMER EV that is expected to start deliveries later this month. The Silverado E is expected to go about 400 miles on a charge and will have a full glass roof.
Ultium Platform to Speed EV Development
In the wide-ranging discussion, Mary Barra suggested that several vehicles will be unveiled at CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, January 5-8, 2022. She said she didn’t want to upstage the announcements planned for CES but that people would be surprised at the number of EVs the company is already developing. She hinted that we might see the planned Equinox EV as well as a Blazer-sized EV. The company has promised to sell an electric Equinox for about $30,000. Barra has also promised to launch 30 EVs globally by 2025.
Barra said she believes that GM will be the EV leader because it is building electric vehicles for the masses. Barra took a dig at Tesla saying, “It’s one thing if you’re selling luxury vehicles to a slice of the public. It’s another thing when you’re providing EVs to someone who buys a $30,000 Equinox because that’s the most that they can afford.”
Barra explained why the Ultium battery platform is expected to speed development of EVs. She said with ICE (internal combustion engines) each type of engine has to be changed or modified for different models. The new Ultium platform can be more easily reconfigured to be used in different sized vehicles. The same platform is designed to be used in everything from small cars to semis to locomotives. So far, General Motors has confirmed the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV truck, 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ and 2024 GMC HUMMER EV SUV will all be built on the Ultium platform.
Barra Says the Semiconductor Chip Shortage Should Improve
All of the automakers have suffered from the shortage of semiconductor chips. Barra says that the shortage should ease next year and that supplies will be better in the second half of the year. She cautioned however that COVID could still cause problems with the supply chain. When asked about just-in-time manufacturing, Barra said just-in-time isn’t obsolete but that production has changed significantly. Barra said she doubts we will ever see huge amounts of inventory on dealer lots like we used to. She said vehicles won’t always be built-to-order, like we are seeing right now. It makes sense that eventually the shortages will even out.
Exciting Time in the Auto Industry
Barra stressed that she believes this is an exciting time in the auto industry and that the next year will be “super exciting”. It all kicks off with what she expects will be big announcements at CES in early January. It will be fascinating to see the Silverado E and find out exactly why it may be "unmatched".
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