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General Motors’ 10 New Electric Cars Foreshadow Seachange In What We Drive

Ten non-C8 Corvette EVs show us the future of transportation

Suddenly, the mid-engine Corvette seems so early 2020. This month General Motors arranged 10 all-new electric cars, trucks, and SUVs in a semi-circle inside its famous Design Dome in Warren, Michigan. There were no front grilles, as we know them, but the Chevys, GMCs, Buicks, and Cadillacs on display had plenty of character, and it would be easy to see Tesla owners ready to move on from their cars' minimalist melted soap bar styling—that is, if they can wrap their minds around the idea of a forward-thinking automaker that was formed 112 years ago.

The ten future electric car models GM unveiled Wednesday (with no photography allowed) will roll out by 2025, including the 2022 GMC Hummer sport/utility pickup and SUV due to begin production at the automaker's Hamtramck assembly plant in late 2021 (the Hummers are still scheduled for a full public unveiling on May 20th), and the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, which will become the first non-Cadillac to offer Super Cruise. Super Cruise is also getting upgrades, including lane-changing abilities, and, soon, country trunk-road self-driving capability.

There are also two midsize Buick utilities, an SUV and a coupe-profile crossover. Both almost certainly will launch in China before they launch in the United States. Chevy is also planning an electric crossover that looks very much like it could be the next Blazer, and Cadillac plans three new EVs as well.

The Cadillac Lyriq will be the first of three Cadillac electric cars to reach market. It's an XT5-sized two-row SUV first teased just before the 2019 Detroit auto show, and GM hints it will come to market after the GMC Hummer sometime in the 2022 calendar year as one of the remaining 20 new electric cars GM had previously promised by 2023. The others, like the big three-row Cadillac SUV that will share the Hummers' 24-module battery pack and the stunning Cadillac Celestiq bespoke flagship sedan, appear to be among new models arriving after 2023 but before 2025.

Appropriately, these 10 new GM EVs get supersize digital instrument panels and center screens—up to 18 inches across or more, with some vehicles from Cadillac getting screens that span the entire width of the dash, from one door to the other.

GM's goals, as outlined by CEO Mary Barra, are lofty. It aims to launch all these EVs by 2025 on its way to selling one million such electric vehicles between North America and China in that year. More than 60 percent of the automaker's engineering assets are concentrated on EVs, and GM will spend $20 billion on its electrification program between this year and 2025. That's more than $3 billion per year.

"To bring about that change, we want to get as many EVs on the road as quickly as possible," Barra said.

Where's the demand? GM has sold 58,313 Chevy Bolts over a bit more than three calendar years as of last December 31, while Tesla sold 223,200 total electric cars in the U.S. in 2019 alone (both numbers compiled by Automotive News). GM has a long way to go in five short years, though I suspect the bulk of that 1 million in sales by 2025 will be in China, not the United States.

Nevertheless, GM's ultimate goals as expressed by Barra include sourcing all its electricity from renewables--in the U.S. by 2030, and globally by 2040, and, of course, "zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion." Already, 100 percent of GM's returned batteries can be reused or recycled.

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For American buyers, GM's new proprietary (developed with partner LG Chem) Ultium batteries use reduced levels of rare and expensive cobalt and nickel from countries on its way to developing cobalt- and nickel-free solid-state batteries, eventually for less than $100 per kilowatt-hour, significantly lower than today's $145 per kWh cost.

And yet, current EV demand is somewhere between 1 percent and 1.5 percent of all vehicles sold, both here in America and globally. GM certainly does not have to rush to high-volume EVs in the current U.S. political climate, while the rapidly declining Chinese market is nearing 1 million electrics total per year, on the way to a tenuous internal combustion engine ban.