General Motors: Australia a cornerstone of expansion plans

General Motors: Australia a cornerstone of expansion plans

Australia will be a “cornerstone” of General Motors’ international expansion over the coming years, as it transforms from a hairy-chested V8 brand to an EV-only proposition.

Christian Soemmer, managing director of GM strategic markets, alliances and distributors, says the brand has “ambitious goals” in overseas markets, including Australia.

“We want to grow our international scale. Australia and New Zealand is an absolute key pillar of that region. We are always looking into more opportunities,” he says.

“We are studying at the moment where the opportunities are in Australia. I believe we have a very attractive franchise where we have the Silverado light duty and heavy duty as well as the Corvette C8.

“We have a lot of fans Down Under. We are in a position where we have more fans at the moment than actually vehicles that we can give. That is something that over the long term we want to improve on and change,” he says.

He wouldn’t be drawn on which GM products might make it to Australia, but low-volume, premium electric vehicles are the most likely to justify an investment in a right-hand drive program.

That makes the Hummer EV, the electric Silverado ute and the all-new Cadillac LYRIQ SUV the most likely candidates. The LYRIQ is an electric SUV with a range of up to 600km that is designed to compete with the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Soemmer says the company is doing “deep analysis and research” to identify any potential opportunities in Australia.

However, he warns that global component shortages and strong demand for EVs overseas may delay any expansion of the local market.

“They are very high in demand but we also believe that Australia is an important market for us. It’s a cornerstone in terms of our future for strategic markets and also GM international,” he says.

The president of GM International, Shilpin Amin, says designing a vehicle for either left or right-hand drive is “much more simple” on an electric vehicle platform.

“Because of how efficient it is to build it up front with left and right-hand-drive markets in mind no longer do you need the volumes to justify it. You can actually do it pretty efficiently at all volumes for markets around the world,” he says.

Cadillac, which planned to launch in Australia before the global financial crisis in 2009 then sensationally drawn from the market, will lead GM’s electrification push.

It will not launch any new petrol vehicles after 2026 and will become EV-only by 2030.

Soemmer says the company is making progress in addressing the three main “pain points”: cost, range and charging time.

“We have made great improvements with the Ultium battery system in terms of cost, which will go hand-in-hand with improvements in charging times. We already offer a 600km range … and there will further improvements before the end of the decade,” he says.

GM’s all-new electric vehicle platform has a 40 per cent cost advantage over the previous platform and the next generation will have a 60 per cent advantage.

He predicts that by the end of this decade, EVs will have price parity with petrol and diesel vehicles.

“We believe EVs are for everybody. We want everybody in and that means offering them at the price point where people can afford it,” he says.

Managing Director of GM Australia and New Zealand, Marc Ebolo, says the foundations are in place for a “very bright future” in the local market.

“GM Specialty Vehicles has shown fantastic growth since its launch in November 2020, with demand for the Silverado range including the 1500 and Heavy-duty, showing no signs of slowing down. We have also had the first of our very happy and excited C8 Corvette Stingray customers getting their hands on one of the most sought-after vehicles in the automotive market today, with the next wave of anticipation building ahead of the arrival of the phenomenal new global supercar, the Corvette Z06.

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