GMC Is ‘Considering’ An All-Electric Sierra Pickup

General Motors Can’t “Consider” Too Long

Perhaps it was a knee-jerk response to arch-rival Ford’s announcement last week that a battery-electric F-150 is on the way. Or maybe it was time to let the cat out of the bag. Whatever the reason, when asked by CNBC about the potential for an electric GMC Sierra, Duncan Aldred, vice president of GMC, replied, “Certainly, it’s something we’re considering.”

GMC electric truck

“Considering” an electric model 

Of course General Motors should be “considering” electric pickups as well as SUVs. Both vehicle categories are flying off dealer showroom floors. More important, they are really big money makers, not only for GM, but for Ford and Fiat Chrysler’s Ram pickups as well.

At the moment, it’s not known what “considering” means. Are engineers hard at work developing an electric truck? Are designers working on styling and packaging? And what about batteries; can they travel the distance that consumers want at a price they can afford?

Aldred would neither confirm nor deny that there is any active program underway within the company to actually develop an electric pickup. He did tell CNBC, however, that battery technology still carries a fairly hefty premium that makes it difficult to target mainstream segments, unless a carmaker is willing to accept lower margins. As a result, the executive said, automakers would likely target higher end products.

Aim High

That line of thinking is confirmed by David Cole, director-emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “It’s always a mistake to introduce a new technology on a lower-priced product,” said Cole. “You have a better opportunity to cover costs if it’s on a high-end vehicle.”

It would make sense for GM to introduce electrification to GMC first, followed by the Chevrolet Silverado. GMC already has premium features such as the Multi-pro tailgate, a GMC exclusive. It’s also marketed as more high-end and premium, which could help make the cost of an electrified Sierra easier to recoup for GM, and easier to swallow for customers.

The pickup war in the U.S. is fierce and Ford’s announcement of a coming electric F-150 left GM little choice but to talk about its own pickup electrification. But that’s not the only pressure on GM. Startup Bollinger has shown off it’s prototype electric truck and SUV, and Rivian, another startup based down the road in Plymouth, Mich., introduced its high-power, long-range truck at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Then there’s the Tesla pickup, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk continues to say will arrive in 2020.

Last March, GM CEO Mary Barra said that the carmaker is on a “path to an all-electric future.” The GMC Sierra pickup will certainly be traveling along that path, but the Detroit automaker can’t sit around and just “consider”. If it does, their electric pickup will get lost in the shuffle.

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About Author: Larry E. Hall

Larry E. Hall is the Editor-At-Large at Clean Fleet Report. His interest and passion for automobiles began at age 7, cleaning engine parts for his father, a fleet manager for a regional bakery. He has written about cars and the automobile industry for more than 25 years and has focused his attention on “green” cars and advanced technology vehicles. Larry’s articles have been published by Microsoft’s MSNBC.com and MSN Autos as their alternative vehicles correspondent, and is currently the Senior Editor at HybridCars.com. His work has appeared in metro and suburban newspapers as well as business publications and trade journals. He is the founding president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association and a member of the Motor Press Guild. Larry lives and drives in Olympia Wa. with his wife, Lynne, who shares his passion for cars.

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