GM is working on an all-electric pickup truck. In its latest sustainability report, GM describes "the Chevrolet BET Truck, which will be the brand's first electric full-size pickup, offering 400+ miles of range on a single charge." The Verge first spotted the mention of the vehicle in the report. The news follows announcements of forthcoming all-electric pickups from both Tesla and GM archrival Ford, which is also toying with hybrids.
GM has already said that it's resurrecting the Hummer as an electric pickup by early 2022. That truck was a notorious gas guzzler and the collapse of the economy in 2008 dealt it a death blow. It was also a four-wheeled monument to excess and climate denialism, which didn't do it any favors.
Changing the calculus – Electric trucks make the ethical dilemma of buying a truck a little less fraught. But trucks still take up a lot of space, and many American city dwellers really don't need them. We'd be better off if fewer people had cars, and if the cars that are out there were smaller. But trucks are still essential for some buyers, and offering compelling, electrified versions could help sway those who actually need them away from internal combustion models.
Coming in 2021, maybe — Unfortunately, we don't know much more about GM's planned electric truck beyond the range estimate. The company didn't offer any concept designs in its report, nor a planned release date, though it's indicated that we'll likely see it in 2021. Fortunately, unlike companies like Fisker and Nikola that have made big promises without yet delivering on them, GM already sells a solid electric vehicle in the Bolt. The company has the scale and experience to pull off a pickup... and plenty of incentive. The space is only getting more crowded, and GM will want to stake it's claim.
The company says it's using new battery technology that uses less cobalt in order to produce vehicles more cost-effectively. Cost was a big problem when the company's first EV, the Volt, came and went, and it's also been an obstacle to uptake for the likes of the BMW i3.
Auto manufacturers are under pressure domestically and abroad to transition to electric, even as the Trump administration tries to roll back progressive targets. Emissions and fuel-efficiency regulations continue to get tougher, and Tesla continues to rip in the stock market as it reaches a fourth consecutive quarter of profitability. It's now the most valuable automaker in the world.
Americans love trucks – Large automobiles have come into vogue again in the U.S. and replaced small sedans, so it seems inevitable that GM will continue releasing new trucks for some time. It makes sense that at least one would be electric. If GM's offering has a more traditional look like the Silverado — as some have speculated it will — it could be a solid alternative to Tesla's striking, but divisive, Cybertruck.