General Motors Plans Electric Van to Fight Ford, Lock Out Tesla: Report

Detroit doesn't want to let Tesla have another huge slice of a new, emerging pie.

Detroit may have lost out on the biggest slice of the electric passenger pie to a certain Californian upstart, but it won’t recommit the mistake when it comes to electric commercial vehicles. Next year, Ford will introduce an electric version of its Transit van, and not to be outdone, General Motors will reportedly follow suit, launching an electric van of its own in late 2021.

Part of GM’s scheme to prepare 20 new electric vehicles by 2023, the electric van codenamed “BV1” will according to Reuters enter production late next year. It will reportedly utilize the automaker’s cutting-edge Ultium battery system, and borrow some powertrain components from upcoming electric pickup and SUV offerings, such as the GMC Hummer EV. Assembly is expected to be handled at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck facility, which the automaker has stated will be its first fully EV-dedicated factory.

Ultium battery system, General Motors

GM reportedly hasn’t decided which of its brands’ badges will adorn the “BV1,” though traditional truck marques Chevrolet and GMC are said to be two candidates. Because GM’s electric van will be aimed primarily at the commercial market, where Detroit’s Big Three reportedly “don’t want to leave the door open for Tesla,” either brand could allow GM to cash in on decades of credibility established with vehicles like the GMC Savannah and newly updated Chevrolet Express.

When contacted, GM was unable to comment on plans for future electric vehicles and described Reuters’s story as speculative.

“General Motors is committed to an all-electric future and is implementing a multi-segment, scalable EV strategy to get there,” a spokesperson told The Drive. “At this time, we do not have any announcements to make regarding electric commercial vehicles.”

Ford and Rivian will be GM’s direct competitors for the commercial electric van market, as both marques are on track to launch their own electric vans as soon as next year. Whether the closely allied Ford and Rivian will develop these vehicles cooperatively or independently is not yet known; Rivian has a contract to produce 100,000 vans for Amazon starting mid-2021, and Ford has promised to have an electric Transit van available for the 2022 model year.

Ford’s continuously expanding partnership with Volkswagen could hypothetically yield another, VW-badged competitor, though the German automaker’s electric van aspirations have so far been limited to a trade-friendly iteration of the ID.Buzz concept vehicle. Smaller in stature, and based on a unibody architecture, the eventual production vehicle that Volkswagen has confirmed will result from the ID.Buzz concept will likely sell better as a passenger vehicle than one for commercial use.

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