GM wants to make an electric pickup, but can it beat its rivals to the punch?

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD

The alliance talks between General Motors and Michigan-based startup Rivian fell apart. Days later, Ford made a not-insignificant $500 million investment in Rivian, and announced plans to build a car using its new partner’s electric technology. GM missed out on the chance to work with the EV maker, but its chief executive announced it’s still planning on entering the burgeoning electric pickup truck segment sooner or later.

“We intend to create an all-electric future that includes a complete range of EVs, including full-size pickups,” affirmed CEO Mary Barra during an investor call.

Barra stopped short of revealing when the model will arrive. Another point that’s up in the air is whether Chevrolet or GMC will inaugurate the technology. GMC has talked about going electric before, and it could have an easier time offsetting the costs added by a battery-powered drivetrain because its vehicles are more expensive than Chevrolet’s. Odds are both brands will ultimately offer an electric pickup; however, they have shared mechanical components for decades.

With Rivian out of the picture, GM will need to either find another partner to split development costs with, or design electric hardware suitable for a pickup truck on its own. We might not have to wait long to see the truck, because the current versions of the Chevrolet Silverado (pictured) and the GMC Sierra were designed with every type of powertrain in mind, according to Green Car Reports. That includes four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines, but also hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric technology. The trucks could even take a hydrogen powertrain if needed.

When it arrives on the market, whether it’s in two years or 10, the Chevrolet- or GMC-badged electric truck will face serious competition. Rivian’s R1T concept gathered a tremendous amount of attention when it made its global debut during the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, and the production model expected in late 2020 will likely be wildly popular in spite of its relatively high price pegged in the vicinity of $70,000. Ford confirmed it’s working on an electric F-150, and it will build something — we don’t know what yet — on Rivian’s skateboard-style platform. Finally, Tesla has talked about making an electric pickup for years, though no one has seen it yet.

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