General Motors to Build Two Bolt-based Crossovers, Considers the Data-mining Business

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

General Motors CEO Mary Barra outlined the company’s vision of the future at the Barclays Global Automotive Conference in New York on Wednesday. While the majority of her speech adhered to GM’s current mantra of “zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” we also got a taste of what that thinking might yield on a shorter timeline.

In early October, GM expressed its intention to launch 20 new electric vehicles by 2023. However, we didn’t get any specific details on the matter. That changed this week. Barra claims the manufacturer will introduce three new electric models by 2020, with two of them being crossovers. The trio will share share basic components with the Chevrolet Bolt.

These models will be followed by a new electric vehicle platform in 2021, with cheaper and more efficient battery cells. The EV architecture is intended to serve as a base for at least nine models — ranging from a massive seven-seat luxury SUV to a very compact crossover.

However, GM also speaks of “adjacent businesses.”

The automaker is sticking with plans to evolve its ride-sharing platform, Maven, and intends to make vehicle connectivity commonplace in all of its future models. Both projects provide varied revenue sources intended to make investors drool with anticipation. While Maven is supposed to reach a few major metropolitan areas over the next few years, car connectivity is likely to become ubiquitous sooner than later.

GM sees data acquisition as a huge financial opportunity. By launching 13 million connected cars over the several years, the company thinks it can accrue wealth through an in-car digital marketplace that sells apps and services. Afterward, it can collect driver data (purchasing choices, driving habits, etc.), sell it off to whoever wants it (including insurance companies), and potentially issue in-car advertisements — something it is already pursuing with help from IBM.

While I absolutely hate this idea, it makes smart business sense and could potentially make the manufacturer truckloads of money. It’s also one of the better ways to help field autonomous vehicles, which is another avenue GM is frantically looking to go down and has had some previous success with. Some experts have suggested self-driving cars won’t be totally effective until all cars possess a moderate level of interconnectedness, and General Motors seems to be in agreement.

As the context of the meeting was to entice investors, we have to take everything stretching beyond the next five years with a grain of salt. However, even though Barra didn’t say so explicitly, GM does appear to be shifting its focus toward mobility — streamlining its core business to advance future technologies.

[Source: Reuters] [Image: General Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Cognoscenti Cognoscenti on Nov 16, 2017

    An EV crossover is clearly needed. You can't cry "Midsize sedan deathwatch!" in one sentence and then "GM will fail if they make an EV CUV!" in the next. You just end up sounding like a shill for other carmakers.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Nov 16, 2017

    The Colt and the Dolt?

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.