By on March 6, 2020

GM

Shedding models is a hot pastime at General Motors these days. As the automaker embarks on an electric product push, it was CEO Mary Barra’s axe that cleared the way… by chopping waning ICE-powered nameplates. With the recent loss of the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6, it seems the cull is nearly complete.

Lineup pared, GM now promises electric models in every segment and at every price point — a strategy made possible (and more importantly, profitable) by a modular electric vehicle platform juiced by cutting-edge Ultium battery tech.

With economies of scale supposedly on its side, which corner of the market should GM not ignore?

To illustrate the flexibility of its new architecture, GM issued a video showcasing potential showroom silhouettes. Crossovers, crossover coupes, sedans, pickups, and cube-like vans are all possible, with the platform allowing for rear-, front-, or all-wheel drive.

Battery size can be whatever GM wants.

While high-end buyers will be able to purchase a poorly named six-figure Cadillac sedan underpinned by this architecture, what about those looking for a bit of fun on the low end? Surely there’s room for a model GM beancounters would normally deep-six due to limited projected demand.

You author would like to see the new platform/battery combo finds its way into an electric version of the 2012 Chevrolet Code 130R concept vehicle — a sporty, low-end, rear-drive vaporware coupe that went absolutely nowhere, as per GM tradition.

Enliven that rear axle with a single motor and slot a modestly sized battery underneath. Market to Millennials who aren’t likely to ever have kids. Boom.

A pipe dream? Maybe. But this is an exercise in dreams. In your view, which bodystyle/layout/segment needs a spot in GM’s electrified lineup?

[Images: General Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

55 Comments on “QOTD: Filling Electric White Space?...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Can’t wait for the replacement for the $10,000 discounted sparks that were on every lot a year ago. What will they give us at that price point?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Hah! There will still be Sparks on the lot. There will be no replacement, since the subcompact market is too low-profit to bother with. So is the compact class, after killing the Cruze and Buick Verano.

      Typhoid Mary Barra is intent on going all-in on the niche electric vehicle market, and destroying GM in the process. The autonomous vehicle market isn’t going to be much either.

      Since Ford is doing the same thing, killing its compact and midsize cars, and FCA already killed off most of its sedans, the market will be left to Honda and Toyota. The US-built auto market will be SUVs and trucks only.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    >>as per GM tradition.

    Also – make a beautiful concept car. Bean count and dumb it down for production.

    Or – finally fix the major issues with the car. Then chop it from the lineup since buyers don’t trust the vehicle because of past sins. See Fiero.

  • avatar

    The CT6 will be remembered as GM’s last good car. I am beginning to think Barra is a flawed visionary like Roger Smith.

    • 0 avatar

      my 2017 Lacrosse is the nicest car I’ve ever owned. the marketing of it was a disaster.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I didn’t know you had a ’17 LaCrosse @Buickman.

        It seems many of the long-term TTAC commentators own 17-19 LaCrosses. I love my ’17. It is a fantastic car and I have zero regrets. We bought one based on our rental experience in 2017 with a pretty loaded out FWD model.

        My nits are mostly minor. Lack of rear heated seats, more because they just check the box, lack of rain-sensing wipers as that seems it should be here for the class, lack of power-folding mirrors, semi-useless wireless charging slot because it is too small for the current generation phones. The stereo is just OK. It isn’t bad, but for example, the Nissan Maxima sound quality is much better. 2017 didn’t get HD radio – but more of a nit.

        It gets great MPG, the AWD system is tremendous in the snow, it is quiet, it is faster than a Maxima to 60 and equal in the 1/4 mile, you can drive all day and not feel remotely shattered after, the Infotainment system is clear and uncomplicated, as are almost all the controls, the WiFi hotspot is the best $15 a month one can spend.

        My only real gripe – serious gripe – the headlights suck.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        When was the last time anybody has seen an ad for a Lacrosse, Regal, Impala, Malibu, Camaro, Cruze or Sonic or CT6? Oh that’s right practically never. These were all some of the best vehicles GM has produced to date with my 2017 Impala and several friends 2014 and 2015 versions being the best most reliable cars they ever owned. So what does Mary the butcher do? Cancel all or most of them and throw untold amounts of development money right down the drain and throw many potential sales to the competition. Now that’s real genius there.

        Comparing Smith to Barra is apt as both either did or will eventually destroy what is left of the General. Sad times

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          >
          When was the last time anybody has seen an ad for a Lacrosse, Regal, Impala, Malibu, Camaro, Cruze or Sonic or CT6?

          When was the last time anybody has seen an ad for a Tesla?

          But yeah, marketing for GM’s larger cars has been nonexistent. I’m guessing, for example, that the majority of people who bought a Subaru Outback or any of the Volvo, Volkswagen, or Audi AWD wagons last year even knew that Buick was selling the Regal TourX. The big sedans just fall off the radar easily when midsized crossovers are pushed as the modern family car.

  • avatar
    redapple

    BEV.
    1.8 % OF ALL CARS SOLD.

    Tesla is 70% of the 1.8%.

    Evil Federal Govt is REQUIRING BEV and nobody wants them. This and autonomy are the biggest crock of sheet. Man made climate change is BS. Vladivostok Ice Core Study. Read it. Live it. Believe it.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @redapple: I suggest you research those numbers… BEV is over 3% of all cars sold–and climbing. And yes, Tesla is roughly 70% of that. Because Tesla has the most advanced technologies and broadest dedicated infrastructure for recharging their BEVs than any other brand.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Tesla remains, today, the only EV maker delivering in volume BEVs in high-volume market segments.

      Because they are easier to engineer, almost all of the BEV competition started out in a segment Americans hate. Let’s see how the Bolt EUV and the Mach E, both of which are in segments Americans like, sell once they are available.

  • avatar

    GM is investing primarily in EV’s despite the fact the Bolt is selling poorly. The next trend I predict is dealerships leaving GM for more lucrative opportunities. Chevrolet dealers are already smarting from excess Bolt’s piling up on their lots. I remember way back in 1987 GM was thinking of cancelling the Oldsmobile Tornado because they only sold 17,000 the previous year. Last year GM sold only 17,500 Bolts!!!

    I want GM and the rest of the US industry to do well, but this GM electric vehicle push seems irrational and not based in reality. As one well known automotive journalist said last week this EV push by GM is bordering on being a delusion.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Cargo van with super-low load floor. Remember we don’t have to clear the driveshaft now (sort of a slammed Sprinter). Still walk-in height, but overall height will allow it to easily fit into parking garages.

    Or make it a chassis-cab with a flatbed – but the load floor is low-low-low. Appliance delivery, moving, landscaping with extremely short or no ramps.

    Extra tight turning radius.

    (With great flexibility comes great responsibility – think carefully.)

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Agreed. It’s a natural.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      You don’t need to clear the driveshaft, but that’s where most EVs have their batteries.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2020/03/gm-lays-it-out-profitable-evs-everywhere-it-can-slot-em/

        In the first picture, there is still a ‘hump’ down the center of the ‘battery module’ or whatever we are calling it (because automotive engineers lack imagination and get stuck in old thought patterns*).

        In the second picture, the module is essentially flat on top (they are figuring it out) and the module appears to be positioned in space below the center of the wheels. [In contrast to a driveshaft/chunk which would generally be *at* the vertical center of the wheels.] (And if you can float it down, you can float it further down.)

        The ultimate expression of my ‘super low load floor’ idea might call for in-wheel motors and an adjustable air suspension [because ground clearance].

        * Some early BEV’s had incredibly illogical HVAC logic – because they turned to the unlimited-waste-heat-from-ICE guys. [Hint: In winter, if you are using battery power to generate heat, you probably want some level of Recirculation invoked (instead of constantly warming cold outside air).]

  • avatar
    ajla

    I still really think PHEVs and conventional hybrids are the better way forward for the next decade.

    As far as the question is concerned, I think EV success will be highest where ICE success is the highest. So compact and midsize CUVs. I think with current battery tech that full-size EV trucks will have range or price issues that will make them unpalatable to most retail segments (although maybe they’ll find favor with fleets as some are predicting).

    In general, I’m bearish about the sales prospects of many of the BEV products that GM announced recently.

  • avatar
    tedder

    I returned a (super cheap) leased Spark EV last fall and there are no EV’s anywhere near my price range today. I would love that coupe; what I really want is an electric 2020 Honda CRX (yes, its just a dream) with ~150 miles of range (or for the Sondor’s EV to stop being vaporware).

    If you are wondering why the Bolt isn’t selling, just sit in one for 2 minutes and look at the interior. Feels like sitting in a piece of tupperware. Floppy shiny plastic everywhere. The revision coming soon is supposed to improve the interior. If so I may consider it again. In the meantime while I wait for a decent cheap EV I bought a used 2008 Porsche Cayman to tide myself over. I feel bad about the mpg (~24) but its a lovely place to wait for the next generation of EVs to come along

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The EV part of the Bolt is very well done and the space utilization is decent, but I wasn’t impressed by the rest of the car. I’m guessing GM had to cut a lot of corners to make up for the fancy drivetrain.

    • 0 avatar

      I test drove a bolt. I liked the chassis, but for 40k plus, the interior was 16k economy car cheap. I applied my usual test, which is “how will I feel after four hours in the saddle” and the answer was no….a shame, as my use case would be good for electric, my routes vary but are definite, and I’ve the required safe space to charge it overnights. They should have gussied up the interior to the price point…does saving $50 on the interior really make a difference at this price point ?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Sounds to me like a new Chevy II (III?) Nova could be in the works… not quite a Camaro but possibly a better four-passenger coupe with reasonably sporty looks and performance while still being at least somewhat “practical.”

    Sorry, but I am sick and tired of nothing but four-door cars and crossovers in the “practical” range when I don’t have and won’t ever have a need for the extra two doors on a regular basis. The two (or even one) half-doors such as the Saturn ION and Hyundai Veloster and even the single half-door on the original Jeep Gladiator concept from 2005 are far more practical in my eyes than the wasted sheet metal and hardware of having four full doors on every vehicle. There’s a reason I own and drive an extended-cab pickup and not a crew cab; I simply don’t need the passenger space.

  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    I’d love to have an electric truck. All those accessories gone, all that weight and complication and expense. Quieter — as much as I like to hear 10,000 rpm or a good V-8, I’d rather hear nothing.

    But until the battery expense and weight comes down, and until I know that almost anywhere I go, I can find a recharge station within a few miles and be on my way in five minutes, they aren’t practical and I won’t consider one.

    Glad GM thinks it has found some better batteries. But incremental ain’t gonna cut it in time for me to care. Get that battery weight down to a full tank of gas and get back to me.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Battery density won’t ever be the same as gas, but some extra weight really doesn’t hurt with an EV, because it tends to be positioned very low. Test drive my 3600# Bolt and you won’t feel that it’s any less agile than a 3100# Cruze.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @dal20402: While I agree that energy density in batteries will likely never be as high as gas, the problem is that in gasoline engines, they only use about 25% – 30% of the available energy; they waste all the rest. BEVs use roughly 90% of the available energy, making them three times more efficient with the energy they have.

        And you are also right about the weight being positioned low. Unlike most vehicles whose engines and drivetrain tend to ride above wheel center, battery packs tend to rest below the centerline of the wheels, making them significantly more stable despite their added weight. Even trucks, which tend to be built with higher ground clearances, will benefit by realizing a much lower center of gravity, making rollover crashes less common (but not impossible.)

        I do believe some form of speed limiter will be required however; as the instant torque that electric motors offer will tempt people to drive their cars much more energetically, as we have already seen many times. I expect we’ll see a lot of cars eventually boasting several ‘economy’ modes for acceleration similar to Tesla’s with ‘Laid Back’ being the default setting and, like the stability controls on most cars today, needing to be manually overridden every time you drive if you want to drive more enthusiastically.

  • avatar

    where is the research on EMF radiation from electric vehicles?

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Not much, the field is shielded inside the motor generator and therefore not much got out. If you are worry about harmful radiation, put sunscreen on and tint your windows. Sunlight is the most significant radiation you can get from driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Considering the voltage and current levels, I believe the EMF radiation is low… especially since the motor is in a metal housing that prevents any such radiation from reaching the passengers.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Likely less than your HEI ignition produces

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      EVs are FCC compliant and people who have pacemakers and cell phones drive them every day. And, their radios work.

      Not sure why you keep bringing this up.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        because people like him don’t understand the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. they believe in chemtrails and power lines causing cancer.

        the only way non-ionizing (low frequency) radiation can harm you is if you are close to a very powerful transmitter which can cause tissue heating. i.e. literally cooking you like a microwave oven.

        Like Pandabear said, sunlight is far more damaging. if you’ve ever had a sunburn, you’ve literally had an ionizing radiation burn.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    I think Barra’s out of her mind to not have the full-size van electrified. It would make a great commercial development fleet. Most service vans never leave their municipality. Everything learned in the field, can be perfected and optimized before application to rest of their livery. Hybrids could be applied to high milers.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Where should GM go for EV:

    1) A true 5-passenger CUV with some degree of offroading chops. I don’t mean Jeep Wrangler or Colorado Bison grade, but more than AWD that “checks the list” and really is just RWD that help the front wheels a little bit.

    2) Something that is a modern interpretation of the Savannah. That huge flat floor would enable them to have a massive battery. It could be configured for range or for torque and power, depending on the client’s needs. It is a no brainer in the urban canyons and airport shuttles of the world.

    3) A 5-door hatch that is part car and part SUV. Something without weird styling inside and out. Conventional looking but just enough flair to have the, “see I’m saving the planet,” mojo. Too conventional hasn’t sold as we’ve seen with other makes/models.

    4) It’s niche but would be interesting – a coupe that slots below the Camaro that is built to shake things up in the SCCA. Insert how Kappa was fat and bloated here. Look at the SCCA records from the Kappa vehicle era, they beat the Miata consistently. They won’t sell a lot of them I freely admit – but would be an “obtainable” halo vehicle.

    5) A Model 3 fighter. Something Buick or Cadillac branded that is upscale, put together better (from a panel gap, etc issue that is setting the bar low), with a more conventional interior. It will have to channel a Genesis strategy of being priced significantly lower and equipped to the hilt to get attention. More of a long game strategy.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Maybe the retro thing has run its course but an electric Nomad version of the Chevrolet Code 130R concept vehicle would be great.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      I was going to suggest this. Instead of TWO roadsters –Solstice and Sky– they could/should have built the Nomad. But this is GM and badge engineering is probably cheaper than building a different body style.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        GM has a bad habit of announcing cars and claiming ‘affordable’ for a specific buyer group and then, if they build it at all, price it into a different group that already has a better product in that price line. Just as an example, the concept SSR was claimed to be intended for the Camaro price group but when it finally came out, it priced into the Corvette group, way WAY above what buyers were expecting… almost double the price and as a result, far fewer than ¼ the sales as a result.

        I would have gone nuts for one at the Camaro price range but couldn’t even look at one at Corvette prices.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    GM is dead to me. I already own the last GM vehicle that appeals to me a 2012 Lacrosse except for maybe the Colorado/Canyon which I will bet GM will totally botch up on the 2021 redesign like they did on the 2019 Silverado. I might eventually buy an electric vehicle when the infrastructure and price become within reach but I doubt it will be a GM or Ford.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    GM needs to be building its own Gigafactory if it expects to be a leader in the EV market. I haven’t heard anything of the kind.

    A few compliance cars won’t cut it.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “GM needs to be building its own Gigafactory”

      presumes facts not in evidence. Tesla did it because they had to; no battery manufacturer was going to take the risk and build tons of capacity based solely on Elon’s promises. If EVs actually have broad appeal outside of the Elon Musk Fan Club then the supply base will build capacity.

      but apart from that, have you been ignoring the $2.3bn battery plant they’re building in Lordstown?

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I’d give the car in the picture a look with electric or ice power.

  • avatar
    Oldschool

    My question is, what happens when all this rare earth minerals that it takes to make these massive batteries start to dry up or become extremely expensive one day as demand increases? That, and or the additional strain on the power grid and increase in charging prices from utility companies?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Rare earth materials aren’t rare.

      https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/rare-earth-elements-not-rare-just-playing-hard-to-get-38812856/

      Battery technology is rapidly advancing and manufacturers are already eliminating problem materials like cobalt. Technology is also increasing battery density meaning more capacity using less material.

      Solar prices keep dropping:

      https://cleantechnica.com/2019/11/17/us-solar-panel-prices-continue-dropping-solarstorage-increasing-tracking-the-sun-report/

      Renewable energy is growing quickly as costs drop:

      https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/energy-and-resources/articles/renewable-energy-outlook.html

      New battery technology is making EVs lighter and more efficient. That means less power for a given range and effectively shorter charging times.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        At times it appears that talk of “battery technology rapidly advancing” that combines smaller footprint, longer range, and short recharge times reminds me somewhat of the 200-mpg carburetor stories of years past. Just around the corner…

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Except that the improvements actually happen. Energy density has already nearly doubled over the last decade. Continued progress at the same rate will get us EVs that are cost-competitive on a TCO basis within a few more years.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          batteries have been advancing and the improvements are seeing mass production. Look at the specs of the 2019 Bolt vs. the 2020 Bolt. From 238 miles range to 259 miles. GMs new battery is even denser. Next month will be Tesla’s battery announcements. Toyota will be showing its solid-state battery in a vehicle during the Olympic opening ceremonoy, although mass production is a few years away.

          Sure, there are some batteries just out of the lab that still need to make it to production. There’s a company with a solid-state lithium-sulfur battery and IBM’s “seawater” battery. Those batteries are being demonstrated now, but need to make the long journey into mass production. That
          s the tough part. Sometimes they don’t make it.

          Cost for EVs is going down too. The Bolt with 259 miles range is selling in the upper 20’s.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Electric Power Monthly US annual wind generation totaled 300 million MWh in 2019, exceeding hydroelectric generation for the first time in 2019 by 26 million MWh. Wind is now the top renewable source of electricity generation in the country, a position previously held by hydroelectricity…

        The energy landscape is changing…One could change that question to “what happens when we see fossil fuel supplies begin to dry up?” Renewables are no longer limited to early adopters or drivers of rusty Subarus in Vermont. They are and will be a growing portion of the energy sector..

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “The energy landscape is changing”

          The ratio of FF to renewable power generation hasn’t really changed that much over the last decade.

          eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec1_5.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      rare earths aren’t used in batteries. the most common rare earth metals used in automotive applications are neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium. The vast majority of the time they’re used for permanent magnets. EV motor/generator units tend to use a lot of them, but they’re not required to depending on what motor design is chosen.

      they’re only tagged “rare” as mcs said because you don’t find them in concentrated deposits or ores; you get them as a by-product of refining other metals.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Nothing new here folks. The next new “big” GM thing in a long line of failed dreams and delusions. I don’t trust this disastrously run train wreck of a company as far as I can throw them and will not be buying any more of their products with this dumb all eggs in one basket woke thinking. They are dead to me after my 2017 Impala.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    Between (1) the obvious trolls, (2) the users with a clear political bias from both sides of the aisle, and (3) the Tesla apologists, the signal-to-noise ratio of the TTAC comments on any BEV topic is getting worse by the day. I don’t have a solution, other than to not bother reading.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Tstag: A shortage of Lithium just means that ICE cars will go for longer and that many of the brands listed above...
  • nrd515: I live near several assisted living type places. Hell, I’m almost there the way I’m going...
  • mason: “These articles are red meat for commentors like EBFlex who want to sound their propaganda.” And...
  • randy in rocklin: Some guy here in CA got killed as he was stealing a Cat converter under the car, and the owner...
  • randy in rocklin: Some guy here in CA got killed as he was stealing a Cat converter under the car, and the owner...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber