General Motors sees roadways of the future with “zero crashes, zero emissions, zero congestion,” and sees the electrification of the vehicle fleet as the way to get there.
“The global electric vehicle penetration is around 3 percent, but is going to change,” GM chairman Mary Barra said in a presentation January 12 to an audience watching CES, the Consumer Electronics Show being conducted virtually this year because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
GM is being repositioned, she said, “to meet this moment.” GM’s goal, she said, is “putting everyone in an EV.”
Oh, and those new GM EV’s may include more than ground-bound vehicles. During the nearly hour-long presentation, GM showed a concept for a vertical takeoff and landing drone that would provide personal air travel, such as going from a meeting in one building to an ensuing appointment on the other end of a downtown business district.
GM design director Michael Simcoe said the company will introduce 30 new EVs within the next five model years and showed images not only of the passenger-carrying drone but of a Cadillac-branded van.
All such vehicles will be based on GM’s new Ultium battery systems and chassis architectures.
“Any vehicle can be an EV,” noted engineer Aaron Pfau, who showcased the new Hummer electric pickup truck, which he said has off-pavement capabilities “beyond what could be delivered by gas- or diesel-powered vehicles.”
Not only can a pickup truck be electric powered, but so can “low-slung performance vehicles,” said Mei Cai, a GM engineer specializing in battery chemistry. Simcoe noted that one of the concept cars being developed for Cadillac is a luxury 2-seater. And if Cadillac can have such a car, it makes sense that Chevrolet can as well. Corvette EV?
Cai noted that the Ultima batteries, being developed with LG Chem, provide more power in a smaller package using less rare-earth elements. GM also has developed a new vehicle electric architecture that reduces the use of wiring.
Other developments revealed by GM in its CES presentation included:
- The announcement of OnStar-branded vehicle insurance.
- Word of a new Cadillac Celestiq model EV.
- Hands-free “Super Cruise” driving available this year on a compact Chevrolet electric vehicle.
- The launch of BrightDrop, including new EV600 GM electric-powered delivery vans and new GM-designed and built electric-powered pallets for use both in the warehouse and in those vans, with FedEx Express already signed on as the first Brightdrop customer.