GM bullish on post-pandemic EVs - may launch new model early

General Motors may be busy making coronavirus face masks and ventilators, but that hasn't slowed the automaker's EV roadmap – even if it's having to wait longer than intended to actually show us the fruits of that work. Though the big reveals of the Cadillac Lyriq EV and the GMC Hummer EV were pushed back during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to GM execs its electrification roadmap may in fact speed up rather than hit the brakes.

The new Cadillac and rebooted Hummer are to be the first products using GM's Ultium platform. That consists of new battery technology and a new architecture for electric vehicles that, the automaker says, could potentially drive more than 400 miles on a charge.

Had all gone to plan, we'd have seen the Hummer EV later this month, but GMC announced at the end of April that it was postponing the unveil. "We're absolutely on time with executing both of those products but, for obvious reasons, we can't do the kinds of unveils that we want to," Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles at GM, said during a briefing with press today. "We really want to have something that does justice to the products, because we're very proud of both ... But we're going to have to have certain amount of flexibility because of things going on."

GM isn't ready to set a new date for either the Cadillac or GMC unveils on the calendar quite yet, unsurprisingly taking a wait-and-see approach given several US states are still extending their at-home orders. Still, according to Morris, the debuts for both electric vehicles will definitely be this year, even if they're in a new format. One possibility is a more digital event, as we've seen the tech industry embrace for its recent product launches.

Full steam ahead - or even faster

While dipping oil prices and cautious customers scared by a recession or even a potential depression might lead to pessimism about EV sales, Morris isn't convinced. "EVs in the time frame that we're launching are really going to be affected more by 'are we providing what people want?'" he argues. "We're trying to provide a vehicle, or a series of vehicles, that really meet consumers' wants."

The Hummer EV is expected to go on sale in the fall of 2021. The Cadillac Lyriq, meanwhile, was meant to have been unveiled on April 2, and then launch from 2021. However they're just two of 20 new EVs that GM has previously said it aims to launch by 2023 on its new BEV3 platform.

Rather than being slowed by coronavirus, GM is actually looking to speed it up. "We haven't changed out plans at all," Morris insists. "We're even – for one particular vehicle – pulling that one ahead, based on how the program is being executed so far."

Exactly which model that is remains to be seen, and there are certainly plenty of candidates. One possibility is that GM could be trying to pull forward a more affordable EV, on the basis that the market may be swayed by a cheaper vehicle than the Hummer EV or Lyriq. Chevrolet is set to launch not only an update to its Bolt EV, but a new Bolt EUV crossover currently scheduled for summer 2021. That will also be the first non-Cadillac to feature Super Cruise, the hands-free driver assistance system.