GM CEO Mary Barra Hinted at Possible Electric Trucks
I have talked a few times about startup or simply smaller companies that are producing electric or plug-in hybrid trucks, and every time I see it I think to myself, “some big OEM should really build one of these.” So, when I heard that GM CEO Mary Barra said something about the company giving a “tiny bit” of thought about an electric pickup truck, I felt a little spark of hope flicker to life.
The comment was a very small part of a visit that Barra paid to students at Harvard, MIT, and Boston University last week. The visit was really about the future of transportation, and GM not-so-low-key saying that the future engineers should come work for them. Barra’s main points were GM’s push for self-driving vehicles and electric vehicles. However, like a TV show fan obsessing over their favored character pairs, I am going to focus on that electric pickup truck comment.
General Motors and electric trucks
GM has generally been the most electric-forward of the legacy mass-market automakers, and has put some electric tech in its pickups. In 2016, it offered the Silverado E-Assist in California, building only 500 units that had regenerative brakes, 13 extra horsepower, 44 more lb-ft of torque, and 13 percent better fuel economy in the city (with the 5.3-liter V8).
Nothing else has really come from that, though. I had a bit of a problem with that anyway: the city mpg for the 5.3-liter V8 is only 16 mpg, and it already made 355 horsepower. The extra boost moved it all the way to an eye-popping 18 or so mpg and 368 horsepower. This improvement is hardly what I would call “impressive.”
A more impressive idea
So, I offer GM a suggestion, free of charge: a plug-in hybrid pickup. It’s a completely untouched market segment, and if you make sure that it performs well as a pickup, it could be a critical success. For inspiration, just look at the Workhorse W-15, a plug-in pickup truck from a small Southern-Ohio OEM that makes 80 electric miles, plus 310 miles from gas, all tapping into 460 horsepower.
You could even start smaller, since I can understand reluctance to make a drastic change to the Silverado’s winning formula—make a plug-in hybrid Colorado. The current base Colorado engine already makes less torque than the Volt, so it seems ripe for a conversion to a high-torque and highly efficient version.
You could call it something like the Chevy Colorado Redwood Edition. Just a thought.
Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.