GMC is rumored to be working on an all-electric version of their Sierra pickup.
This shouldn’t come as much surprise, with Ford making electrified and all-electric versions of the F-150 pickup. On top of that, GM President Mark Reuss told investors earlier this month that the company plans to go all-in on electric powertrains, saying that the technology for hybrids no longer makes sense in an era of increasingly more powerful batteries.
But where to start? GM already has the Chevy Bolt, their volume subcompact electric car that has been plagued by rumors of being unprofitable. Now, new rumors are circulating that GM is working on an electric pickup to take advantage of that segment’s much higher margins and hopefully break into a still nascent market.
According to a report from CNBC, vice president of GMC Duncan Aldred said that the Sierra might just be the first GM truck to go electric. "Certainly, it's something we're considering," he said, although he offered no further details on far along the Sierra was in its electric journey.
If the Sierra goes electric, you just know that the Silverado will follow shortly thereafter as they’re mostly the same truck.
Batteries are still a problem in the electric powertrain world, or more specifically the cost. We can make vehicles with a range between 300-400 miles now, but doing it cheaply is still a problem. The current cost per kWh in a battery is around $150, making a 135 kWh battery the priciest component of an electric vehicle by far. GM hopes to get that cost reduced to around $100 per kWh before trying any kind of volume production vehicle again.
Pickup trucks are hugely popular among buyers, but even more popular among carmakers. The profit margins on pickups are way higher than regular cars, which means that GM can afford to spend some of that profit on an electrified powertrain in order to command the market.
If they can get there first. Rivian has already announced their R1T will arrive in 2020, but GM and Ford have yet to produce timelines on their electrified pickups. It’s a race to see who will get there first, and so far all the mainstream automakers are losing.