General Motors CEO Mary Barra unveils the automaker’s new electric truckin Las Vegas on Wednesday, calling the Chevy Silverado EV a “revolutionary” car that will disrupt the electric vehicle market.
The new pickup, due for release in fall 2023 with a starting price of around $40,000, will be able to travel 400 miles on a full charge and can be customized to include an electrical outlet capable of charging a second electric vehicle. The fully electric truck is part of GM’s plan to invest $35 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles over the next three years.
The Silverado EV will offer “a mix of capabilities, performance, safety, flexibility and design that catapults this electric truck for fleet and retail customers into a category of its own,” said Barra.
GM is counting on its push into the electric vehicle market for sales lagging behind turbochargers. The company unveiled the Silverado EV just a day after GM’s year-end sales figures showed that it is now second only to Japan-based automaker Toyota in vehicle sales in the US. For nearly a century, GM sold more cars to US consumers than any other automaker, but last year Toyota sold 114,000 more cars than its competitors.
Barra’s remarks at the annual consumer electronics show, where more than 200 companies from transportation-related industries alone are represented this year, highlight the rapidly changing auto landscape that is rapidly shifting towards electric and self-driving vehicles.
GM has produced the vast majority of fuel-intensive cars and trucks for more than a century. It now aims to launch more than 30 electric vehicle models in the next three years and wants to be a carbon neutral company by 2040.
Barra also announced that GM plans to convert more than 50% of its manufacturing footprint in North America and China into electric vehicles by 2030 and pledged that all of its US factories will be powered by 100% renewable energy within the next three years.
GM had previously announced that all of its light-duty vehicles would be electric by 2035, and on Wednesday Barra said it would electrify its heavy-duty fleet as well by then.
The company is building two battery plants in Ohio and Tennessee and plans to build two more in the US to meet what is expected to increase demand for electric vehicle batteries in the coming years.
“Our commitment to a vision of a world with zero accidents, zero emissions and zero congestion has become a movement and has put us ahead of most of the competition,” Barra said in a speech broadcast live from the Fox Theater in Detroit.
The spotlight on the auto industry continued Thursday at CES when US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg delivered a keynote address. Buttigieg, speaking from a distance, is expected to discuss the various ways innovation and technology in industry will impact transport access in the future.
While many analysts expect electric vehicles to dominate the majority of the auto market by the end of the decade, the technology that powers self-driving cars is also evolving. That progress will be highlighted Friday at CES with the first autonomous vehicle racing competition.
The Indy Autonomy Challenge is hosted and hosted by the nonprofit Indianapolis-based Energy Systems Network (ESN). The competition involved nine teams from eight countries, representing 19 universities around the world working to improve self-driving technology.
“The Indy Autonomous Challenge is working to advance technology that will accelerate the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and the adoption of advanced driver assistance systems,” said Paul Mitchell, CEO of ESN.
During a press conference ahead of the race, Mitchell said that each company will eventually have its own algorithm for controlling vehicles, stressing that they need to communicate with each other on the road.
“You’re going to have Waymo, Cruise, Uber and Tesla and a bunch of other algorithms having to touch each other on highways at 70 miles per hour, and we’re going to have to start testing them if we’re going to get to that future environment,” he said.
The autonomous racing car competition has generated a buzz as one of the participating teams broke the world record for the fastest self-driving car ahead of the race.
The record-breaking feat was achieved by the PoliMOVE team, a collaborative effort between students, researchers and professors at the University of Alabama and the Polytechnic Institute of Milan. The self-driving car from PoliMOVE reaches speeds of almost 176 mph on the racetrack.
Mitchell predicted that self-driving cars could eventually reach speeds of 300 mph. He said that the autonomous challenge was not meant to replace traditional race car drivers, but that the technology could disrupt motorsports. And in the long term, as self-driving cars increase, a head-to-head race between humans and machines is “inevitable,” Mitchell predicts.