Holden’s owner commits to building an electric ute
TRADIES, boaties and caravanners, don't fear - General Motors has your load-lugging back.
The American car making giant and owner of Holden has committed to producing an electric ute to cater for those who want big capability without the fuel-sucking thirst.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra confirmed plans to build a full-sized pick-up truck powered purely by electricity in a conference call to investors overnight.
The yet-to-be-revealed truck is expected to be one of 20 electric vehicles GM has committed to selling by 2023.
"We intend to create an all-electric future that includes a complete range of EVs, including full-size pick-ups," said Barra in trying to allay concerns the car maker would miss the move to electric. "GM has an industry-leading truck franchise and industry-leading electrification capabilities. I assure you we will not cede our leadership on either front."
Barra was light-on for details of the promised upcoming EV truck, instead assuring investors that it would reveal more "when competitively appropriate".
While it could logically share styling cues or an architecture with GM's Chevrolet Silverado, moves by rivals - including Tesla - to create dedicated electric platforms could force GM to invest from the ground up.
Barra's comments were in response to heightened recent discussions surrounding electric pick-up trucks.
American start-up and potential Tesla rival Rivian - which GM was reportedly in discussions with earlier this year - says it will unleash the R1T all-electric truck as early as 2020.
Following the apparent break down of talks between GM and Rivian, American truck sales leader Ford has committed to investing US$500 million ($710 million) in the Detroit-based all-electric fledgling brand, in turn planning to use Rivian's EV architecture for a truck of its own.
Of course, any electric American truck would be on the long-term radar of GM's Australian subsidiary Holden.
Holden is currently fighting to boost sales amid an unprecedented slide following the end of local manufacturing late in 2017.
The brand is focusing on SUVs and the Colorado ute to regain market share.
But Holden is also selling Chevrolet Silverado utes converted to right-hand drive by Holden Special Vehicles in Melbourne.
Large American pick-up trucks have gone from attracting a few hundred Australian buyers annually in Australia to a few thousand, largely off the back of higher-quality right-hand drive conversions of Ram and Chevrolet models that come with manufacturer backing.
And, of course, electric utes are now in the spotlight following a political stoush about Labor's planned 50 per cent EV target by 2030.