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General Motors Begins Deliveries of its First-Ever Electric Trucks, the Hummer EV & BrightDrop EV600, Marking a Major Turning Point for the Automaker

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【Summary】General Motors begins its major transition to electric vehicles with the production start and first deliveries of the Hummer EV Edition 1 pickup and EV600 commercial van from the automaker’s new logistics division Brightdrop. The two vehicles are the first-ever electric trucks produced by GM in its history. Both vehicles will be built on automaker’s new Ultium EV platform.

Eric Walz    Dec 17, 2021 2:45 PM PT
General Motors Begins Deliveries of its First-Ever Electric Trucks, the Hummer EV & BrightDrop EV600, Marking a Major Turning Point for the Automaker

Automaker General Motors was a pioneer in electric cars when it built the EV1 from 1996 to 1999. The EV1 was the first ever mass-produced electric vehicle from a major automaker well before Tesla was a household name. GM followed up the EV1 with the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt in 2010, which preceded the launch of the fully-electric Bolt EV in 2016.

Now the automaker is about to begin its major transition to electric vehicles with the production start and first deliveries of the Hummer EV Edition 1 pickup and EV600 commercial van from the automaker's new logistics division Brightdrop. The two vehicles are the first-ever electric trucks produced by GM in its history. Both vehicles will be built on automaker's new Ultium EV platform.

"This is the first chapter for Ultium – and for GM's transition to a zero-emissions future," said GM President Mark Reuss. "Both commercial and retail customers will benefit from the EV experience, from exhilarating acceleration to low cost of operation, versatility and ability to customize after the sale. GM is ideally positioned to provide EVs for every customer in every segment, retail or commercial."

GM's dedicated Utium EV architecture and propulsion system will be the foundation of GM's all-electric future, as the company has bold plans to phase out the production of gas-powered passenger vehicles by 2035.

GM says its new advanced EV architecture will position the company to better compete with Tesla, Rivian, Ford Motor Co and other legacy automakers that are introducing new fully-electric models.

GM's aims to introduce 30 all-new EVs globally through 2025, two-thirds of which will be available to customers in North America and the Utium platform will be the core component of all of the new battery-powered vehicles.

In June, GM announced that its increasing its investments in electrification and autonomous driving technologies to $35 billion through 2025 as it plans for an all-electric future with dozens of new battery-powered models in the works, many with autonomous driving capability. The Hummer EV and EV600 commercial van are just the beginning for GM as it begins its transformation to become an electric car company.

The updated plans also include accelerating Ultium battery cell production in the U.S. The automaker is building two new battery cell manufacturing plants in the U.S. by mid-decade to complement the Ultium Cells LLC plants currently under construction in Tennessee and Ohio. 

Ultium Cells LLC is a joint venture between GM and its battery partner South Korea's LG Energy Solutions. The two companies are investing nearly $5 billion in the new battery plants. Production at the Ohio plant is scheduled to begin in August 2022, while the Tennessee plant is scheduled to open in late 2023. GM is targeting at least 140 gigawatt hours of battery cell-making capacity in the U.S.

GM's Utium EV platform will underpin a wide range of GM's future EVs. It supports front, rear and all-wheel-drive battery powered powertrains. The platform will enable GM to build everything from affordable, high-volume crossovers and passenger cars to full-size pickups and SUVs, performance, and commercial vehicles, the automaker says.

According to GM, all of its future Utium-powered EVs will offer competitive range and performance compared to just adding an electric propulsion system to GM's existing internal combustion vehicle platforms.

GM's Utium platform greatly reduces the number of parts combinations and complexity. It will allow the automaker to build more cost-effective EVs, which will help the company maintain its profit margins as it makes the switch to electrification. GM currently relies on the sales of full size trucks and EVs as its main profit driver.

But the Ultium platform will allow the automaker to innovate with new vehicle designs in core areas such as the interdependent body frame and battery structure of its all-new EVs, which GM hopes will attract customers to its electric trucks and SUVs. 

The HUMMER EV's combined battery pack and body structure allows for highly-capable off-road performance, strong protection of the vehicle's battery, which doubles as a structural and stiffening member of the body, according to GM. The unique design adds enough stability to enable features like removable Infinity Roof panels that GM said would be difficult to achieve on a conventional ladder frame pickup truck.

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The first BrightDrop commercial electric van was delivered to FedEx.

The BrightDrop EV600

In addition to offering all-new electric passenger vehicles like the new HUMMER EV, GM's Ultium platform is helping GM to grow its EV business in the commercial sector.

BrightDrop is a new tech startup from GM, that focuses on electric commercial delivery and logistics for an all-electric future through products, beginning with the EV600 light commercial vehicle.

The Ultium EV platform will be key to allow BrightDrop to rapidly accelerate toward electrifying commercial last-mile delivery vehicles, while offering zero emissions vehicles to help fleet operators meet their sustainability targets. 

BrightDrop is delivering its first EV600s to FedEx starting today, moving from concept to market introduction faster than any other GM vehicle in history, the company said.

GM is building its new Utium-based EVs at its Detroit Hamtramck factory in Michigan, The factory was recently converted to produce only EV and was renamed "Factory Zero" to align with GM's corporate mission of a future world of "zero emissions, zero crashes and zero congestion." The factory is packed with advanced technology with a focus on sustainable manufacturing. GM invested $2.2 billion to transform the plant.

Factory Zero also represents a changing auto industry in the U.S., as GM and rival Ford Motor Co pivot from building internal combustion engine powered vehicles to those powered by batteries.

"The electric trucks and SUVs that will be built here will help transform GM and the automotive industry," said Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president of Global Manufacturing in October 2020, when plans for its transformation were first announced.

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Following the Hummer EV will be electric versions of the popular Chevrolet Silverado pickup and recently announced GMC Sierra Denali. The Silverado E will be unveiled at CES in Las Vegas early next month.

GM President, Mark Reuss, said at an investor event in October that electric versions of the Blazer SUV and Equinox crossover, along with another unnamed entry-level EV model are also in development.

These new GM vehicles included a Chevy branded SUV based on the Equinox, which could retail for just $30,000. The battery-powered Equinox will be GM's mass-volume product, since its GM's second best-selling model in the U.S. after the Silverado pickup.

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