GM Is Taking Heat for Editing a Rivian Image for a GMC Sierra EV Design Sketch

GM didn’t copy the actual design of the truck, but publicly using a competitor’s vehicle as an underlay is a bad look.

byPeter Holderith| UPDATED Oct 26, 2022 6:55 PM
GM Is Taking Heat for Editing a Rivian Image for a GMC Sierra EV Design Sketch
GMC, Allcarnews via Twitter
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Automotive design is a very small business, but it's uncommon to see one automaker drawing over anothers' car. At least, not publicly. After posting a gallery of design renderings of the new GMC Sierra EV, the GM Design Instagram account was called out for using a picture of a Rivian as an underlay in one image. The rendering, which has since been taken down, shows a concept sketch of the Sierra EV with the exact same backdrop and some of the features of a Rivian R1T.

It's clearly a rendering from an earlier portion of the design process. It's rough, with just enough detail to get the aesthetic ideas across. The real faux pax here is posting such an image publicly online. People aren't happy about that.

To be clear, this sort of rendering isn't unusual at all. Sketches like this are typically early in the design process to get an idea down on paper, get feedback, and further refine the form. Using a Rivian as an underlay in this instance was just a matter of convenience. A designer wanted to play around with the aesthetics of the rear end and used the R1T as an underlay. Doing this is easier and faster than creating a rendering in perspective from scratch, which can take a very long time. Using a live underlay like this means you also get to see the truck in context, which helps bring it down to earth.

As previously mentioned, the really bad decision here was posting such an early developmental image online. Renderings shown to the public are typically swiped from much later in the design process or even done after the final design is completed. As such, they look a lot more polished than what you see above.

A GMC spokesperson told us that the sketch wasn't intended for social media: "The GM Design Instagram channel is meant to give followers an inside look at the process of designing new products and the creative teams behind it. Often, these posts use sketches made for internal studio use during design development. The sketch in question was intended for internal use only, and was posted without the necessary approval. It has been removed from the GM Design Instagram page."

So while posting this online was not a good move, there is no design theft going on here, just bad form.

Update: This story has been updated to include comment from GM.

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