Why EVs hold the key to Chevrolet’s Australian future
Thursday 19th May, 2022 - 6:00am
General Motors CEO Mary Barra has had to make some tough calls during her tenure, withdrawing the US car giant from both the European and Australian markets.
These decisions were made to help secure the brand’s core operations in North America and China, as well as allowing for more funding into the crucial area of electric vehicle development.
Obviously the decision to close down the Holden brand in 2020 was particularly hard for Australians, but the introduction of General Motors Speciality Vehicles (GMSV) helped soften the blow. Recent comments from Barra should give Australian GM fans some hope for the future, the brand may be North American focused for now but it hasn’t forgotten about the rest of the world.
Speaking at a conference in Los Angeles earlier in May, Barra revealed that GM is considering a return to the European market sometime in the not-too-distant future. The key to the decision is seemingly the arrival of GM’s new range of EVs, with the company planning to have the vast majority of its line-up battery-powered by 2035.
“About five years ago, we sold our Opel business to what is now Stellantis and we have no seller’s remorse from an internal combustion business,” Barra said. “But we are looking at the growth opportunity that we have now, because we can re-enter Europe as an all-EV player. I’m looking forward to that.”
So what does this mean for GM in Australia? While Europe is obviously a larger market and predominantly left-hand drive, it does create a glimmer of hope for a larger scale presence for GM and its brands, including Chevrolet and possibly Cadillac, in Australia.
Engineers from multiple car brands have often said EVs are an easier, and crucially less-expensive, platform to build in both left- and right-hand drive because of the less complex nature of electric motors and flat battery packs compared to internal combustion engines.
Should GM return to the European market, specifically the right-hand drive United Kingdom, it could very well open the door for a much more expanded GM presence in Australia.
Across its variety of brands GM has either confirmed or hinted at a range of EV models from Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. By 2025 Chevrolet will offer the Silverado EV, Blazer EV and Equinox EV, giving it an electric pickup, mid-size SUV and compact SUV. In other words, an ideal line-up for Australian audiences.
The GMC Hummer is another obvious candidate that would suit the Australian market, while luxury brand Cadillac will launch the Lyriq SUV in the very near-future.
GMSV has allowed the American giant to stay involved in the local industry and while it’s not likely to happen in the short-term, the increased volume of electric GM models combined with its potential return to Europe should be taken as positive news for Australian supporters.