General Motors has been one of the most ambitious high-volume car manufacturers when it comes to electrifying its lineup. It introduced the Chevy Volt years ago as the first mainstream plug-in hybrid to hit the market, and more recently a long-range EV that’s actually affordable in the Bolt. Last year the company announced a grand plan to come out with 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023—but don’t expect any of those 20 vehicles to be its bread-and-butter pickup trucks.
In a recent interview with the Detroit Free Press, GM vice president of global strategy Mike Abelson said that GM’s “core business is going to be the core business for a couple of decades to come." What he means by “core business” is the big, expensive, massively-popular pickup trucks whose equally-massive profit margins pay the bills at GM. Ableson said explicitly that "there will not be any AV/EV pickups" in the next couple of decades.
So if you're waiting for an electric pickup truck that can drive itself, GM doesn’t have any immediate plans to offer such a thing. Granted, that specific market is probably pretty narrow. People who like pickup trucks usually like familiarity. It’s reasonable to assume that the vast majority of pickup buyers like its old-fashioned internal combustion heart, let alone the old-fashioned controls that rely on human inputs rather than an autonomous system.
Then there's the issue of capability. For all the advances of electric powertrains, it’s still hard to beat burning liquid dinosaurs for towing a boat or pulling out stumps. Still, we can’t help but think it would be cool to see a midsize or, dare we say, a compact pickup truck with an electric power plant. It might not have an amazing towing capacity, but it could still have the inherent utility advantages of a pickup truck in a future-forward package.
What makes GM's dismissiveness about electric pickups even weirder is the fact that it’s thinking about getting into the nascent flying car game. The Detroit Free Press reports that General Motors is in talks with air taxi companies about exchanging autonomy and electric propulsion technology. Does GM really think that flying taxis are closer to reality than an a zero-emissions Silverado? Tough to say—but given this news, it's not impossible.