Chevrolet EVs will make a broad range of affordable, electrified vehicles gradually in every segment.
During the CIAS 2023 Media Day, I had the opportunity to talk to James Hodge, Brand Director of Chevrolet Canada. We had a visual look at three upcoming EV models: Equinox EV, Blazer EV and Silverado EV. All three models have an appealing design and are powerful (at least on paper).
We at AutoAndRoad.com are looking forward to test-driving Chevrolet’s new-gen, electrified models in the upcoming months. At this stage, the media is not allowed to sit in those vehicles. However, I can tell that the interior design got the same level of attention to detail.
Chevrolet is the biggest brand of General Motors (GM) and is part of GM for more than a century. GM was the best-selling brand in the USA last year with 2.27 million units. When an automotive giant moves in this direction, the entire industry cares.
Although I do not have the final figures, it is realistic to say that Chevrolet is the backbone of GM and makes roughly half of GM’s sales. Chevrolet has an extensive model range covering all segments from subcompact cars like Spark to compact battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) like Bolt, to big trucks like Silverado and full-size SUVs like Suburban. GM’s biggest brand offers a model for each and every segment of the market.
However, this is only the beginning and a long way is ahead. In Canada and the USA, the market share of BEVs hasn’t reached even 5 percent yet. For GM, this figure is even lower. GM plans to launch about 30 pure electric vehicles and has a strategic goal of NOT producing gas-emitting vehicles. After 2035. By the end of the decade, GM and the industry should have a much better idea of whether this target is achievable.
In late 2023 and early next year, Chevrolet as the leading brand of General Motors will give a boost to the growing EV market by launching three important models: Equinox and Blazer, SUVs and Silverado, the pickup truck. This is a powerful answer to those who think just of Tesla when it comes to BEVs.
Mr. Hodge is very optimistic about the sales success of these new, fully electrified models, especially the Equinox, the compact crossover, which is already a best-seller in the biggest and most competitive market segment in Canada.
In Ingersoll, Ontario, the production site of the current Equinox, GM has already started manufacturing battery-electric delivery vans under the BrightDrop brand. The new Equinox EV, on the other, will be manufactured at another location in the USA.
Equinox EV, Blazer EV and Silverado EV will be milestones in the broader adoption of BEVs. Chevrolet will launch these models from this fall to early next year gradually and all model variants should be available in Spring 2024.
The starting price for the Equinox EV is expected to be well below 40K. Enabled by the Ultium Platform, Equinox EV will be a good indicator of how fast and successful GM can bring affordable BEVs onto the market. With a range of up to 480 kilometres, range anxiety should not be much of a concern.
And the new Blazer EV shows that GM is on the move to electrify more and bigger models up in the hierarchy. Like Equinox EV, the Blazer EV is also based on the BEV-dedicated Ultium platform. Blazer EV price is expected to start just below 55K. It will have an estimated range of up to 515 kilometres depending on the model. A visual inspection at the CIAS is telling, that these models not only have promising specifications but are also longer, wider and more beautiful.
And the all-new Silverado, another best-seller in the pickup truck segment will go on sale, around early 2024. This is the first Silverado designed as a BEV from the ground up which is based on Ultium, the new, dedicated battery platform. According to GM, the estimated range will be up to 540 kilometres, which is very good for a workhorse.
I asked Mr. Hodge how the widespread adoption of BEVs would affect the dealer network. This issue is not just for Chevrolet and GM, but for all the brands. Since BEVs have much fewer moving parts and require less service, this would reduce the service business in particular. Obviously, a sensitive issue. Mr. Hodge replied that the Chevrolet dealer network would adapt well and work closely with the clientele to adopt too. The dealers would help and guide the customers with the installment of fast chargers at home.
My question, about the gasoline versions of these models, is a broad one and no definitive answer exists. The transition to BEVs is a huge challenge for traditional manufacturers like Chevrolet with a more-than-century-old history of ICE engines. I bet that customers will be able to buy these vehicles with gasoline and diesel engines along with the modern BEVs for a while. GM’s promise to manufacture only BEVs starting in 2035 remains to be seen.
The speed of transition to a fully-electrified future is complicated and very challenging and beyond one company’s control. That is true also for a giant like General Motors. For more detailed and the most up-to-date information please visit: www.chevrolet.ca