GM’s electric future includes a pickup truck

GM will make a full-size electric pickup truck as part of an “all-electric future” that will include a complete range of EVs, CEO Mary Barra said during the automaker’s quarterly earnings call Tuesday.

GM reported Tuesday higher-than-expected profit in the first quarter, a result fueled by cost cutting and sales of its more expensive trucks and SUVs. GM also benefitted from its stake in ride-hailing company Lyft and French automaker PSA Group.

GM revenue fell 3.4 percent to $34.88 billion compared with the same period last year.

“GM has an industry-leading truck franchise and industry-leading electrification capabilities,” Barra said.
I assure you we will not cede our leadership on either front. We intend to create an all-electric future that includes a complete range of EVs, including full-size pickups.”

GM already produces the all-electric Chevy Bolt, a small hatchback that is also used by its self-driving car unit GM Cruise. But it doesn’t have any EV crossovers, SUVs and trucks.

Barra’s EV comments come on the heels of reported talks to invest in Rivian, an electric vehicle startup that debuted an all-electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV in November. The deal with GM never materialized.

Instead, Ford swooped in and announced in April that it was investing $500 million into the EV startup. Along with the cash, Ford plans to build a vehicle on Rivian’s electric vehicle platform.

Amazon is also a Rivian investor and earlier this year led a $700 million round into the automotive startup.

It’s unclear if GM will develop an electric pickup on its own or seek another partner like Rivian. Barra didn’t reveal when such a vehicle would become available. She only said the company would share more “when competitively appropriate.”

In the meantime, upstart Rivian is pushing forward with its SUV and truck-focused plans. Deliveries of Rivian’s first two vehicles are expected to begin in late 2020.

GM has been undergoing a transformation over the past four to five years, getting rid of expensive, money-losing programs like the Opel brand in Europe, and investing more into electrification and autonomous vehicle technology.

GM ramped up its belt-tightening measures last November with cuts to factory and white-collar workers, plant closures in North America and the elimination of several car models as it tries to transform into a nimble company focused on high-margin SUVs, crossovers and trucks, and investments in future products like electric and autonomous vehicles.

The actions are meant to safeguard the automaker from an expected downturn in the U.S. market and increase its annual free cash flow by about $6 billion

At the same time, GM has said it will continue to increase investments in key areas such as engineering resources allocated to electric and autonomous vehicle programs.

The automaker announced in January that it will turn Cadillac into its lead electric vehicle brand. The company is developing a new battery electric vehicle architecture that will be the foundation for an advanced family of “profitable EVs,” a word choice that suggests the company will focus on higher margin vehicles such as luxury cars as well as crossovers and SUVs.