US car giant General Motors is set to return to the UK in the near future – with a range of all-electric models that could include the new Cadillac Lyriq SUV and even the massive GMC Hummer EV.
The manufacturer, whose brands include Cadillac and Chevrolet, remains a key player in the US and other markets, but largely withdrew from the European market after selling Vauxhall-Opel to PSA Group (now Stellantis) back in 2017.
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However, that will change in the coming years – and all thanks to the rise of electric vehicles. GM has committed to an all-electric range worldwide by 2035, and the rapidly increasing popularity of electric cars in the UK and Europe makes it a hugely attractive market – especially with the US lagging behind in the adoption of electric cars.
GM has developed a new custom electric vehicle platform called Ultium, which underpins a wide range of vehicles from the new Lyriq SUV to the Hummer EV (below), the electric version of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup and the new BrightDrop van.
GM is currently finalizing its European plans, with an announcement expected early next year – but the company isn’t exactly keeping its ambitions secret. It established a new European division late last year, and GM Europe chief Mahmoud Samara told Move Electric that “we feel very confident that we will be a significant player” in the market.
Samara added that legalization helping to drive electric cars in Europe and high levels of customer acceptance were key factors in the decision. “With what customers need in Europe and what we’ve done to transform our company, we feel this is a unique opportunity for us,” he said.
Samara would not be drawn on which specific brands or vehicles would be offered in Europe. But he said: “Chevrolet is a global brand, Cadillac is a global brand, Hummer is a global brand. So we have global brands that are fit for purpose. What’s so beautiful about moving to electric cars is the flexibility that we can deliver with these platforms. It will be fit for purpose in Europe.”
Reports suggest that the new Cadillac Lyriq, a premium SUV similar in size to the Audi e-tron, will be one of the first cars offered in Europe, with hopes that it can draw on the strong heritage of Cadillac- the brand.
The new Hummer EV could also be offered as a premium off-road vehicle, although its size and price point mean it – like the Humvee-inspired petrol-powered Hummer models of the late 1990s – is likely to be a niche vehicle for the UK.
There are other options: Chevrolet offers the Bolt hatch and Bolt EUV compact crossover, and has just revealed the Volkswagen ID 4-rival Blazer EUV – though those models would face a challenge competing in the mainstream volume market against the big European companies.
There’s also BrightDrop, GM’s new last-mile delivery business that’s developing a line of electric vans. With the huge growth of electric delivery vehicles in Europe, and many cities introducing low and zero emission zones, it is almost certain that the company will offer its products here.
Samara described GM Europe as acting as a startup rather than part of a major auto giant, adding that the lack of a legacy combustion engine car operation will allow it to spread out the rollout of its electric vehicles. It could also adopt a stripped-down online-only sales operation, similar to rivals such as Tesla, Polestar and Genesis.
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