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Why General Motors won’t be showing its next electric car at CES

General Motors planned a big reveal at CES 2020. The Detroit-based automaker was on track to unveil an electric, autonomous car at the event, but it dropped off the list of exhibitors because it couldn’t finish the concept in time.

“We had a plan to go to CES, and, frankly, we can’t go to CES without putting our best foot forward. We could not get the models done that we wanted with the strike,” revealed company spokesman Tony Cervone in an interview with Motor Trend. The strike he pinned the blame on is the four-week movement that paralyzed General Motors earlier in 2019.

The annual Detroit Auto Show is moving to June in 2020, partly to distance itself from CES, so the odds of seeing the concept there are relatively low because the date is far out of the auto show circuit. General Motors CEO Mary Barra told Motor Trend that the formerly CES-bound model will instead make its global debut during the first half of the year. That’s vague, perhaps intentionally so, and the report asks more questions than it answers.

The model is also shrouded in secrecy. While rumors originally claimed it was an autonomous taxi developed by Cruise — which General Motors owns — for ridesharing services, Motor Trend learned that car is scheduled to break cover in January during a stand-alone event, so it’s likely not what the company planned to unveil at CES. What could it be?

There are several possibilities. We know General Motors is elevating Cadillac at its technological flagship, and the firm is scheduled to unveil an electric crossover (pictured) in the early 2020s, so the mysterious concept could preview the model. We expect it will inaugurate the next generation of Cadillac’s Super Cruise technology, which is the most advanced (and, oddly, the most underreported) semiautonomous driving system available on the market.

Alternatively, General Motors could be on the brink of showing the world how it plans to enter the burgeoning electric pickup truck segment. Tesla received a lot of attention when it introduced the Cybertruck, and several smaller companies capitalized on its popularity by putting their own spin on the concept, but General Motors remained relatively silent. And yet, behind the scenes, it’s working on a range of electric trucks and SUVs that will be manufactured at the Detroit-Hamtramck factory that nearly closed. We know next to nothing about these vehicles, though one might resurrect the Hummer brand, but they’re inching towards production so we expect information will begin trickling out in 2020.

Either way, General Motors would rather wait until the right time to unveil the car than rush it under the spotlights. “We want to do it right, because we’ve got a very powerful story to tell,” Barra concluded.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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