GM cutting vehicle trim options to save money for electrification

Equinox and Terrain build combinations cut by more than half

Information continues to filter out about GM's plans based on comments the automaker made during its Capital Markets Day event in February. GM President Mark Reuss said the company's push to save money by rationalizing the number of build combinations will continue in 2020, carrying on the work done in 2019. As GM Authority covers, last year, the carmaker cut 3,500 components across model lines, a 12% drop in the number of parts it needed to stock in its plants. Reuss used the next-generation Chevolet Equinox and GMC Terrain as examples for more cost efficiencies, saying build possibilities — which include international markets and their options — will be cut by more than 50%, and use more shared parts.

"We will reduce total trim levels on Equinox and Terrain from eight to six," Reuss said, "reduce engine variants from 11 to 5, reduce build combinations from more than 200 to less than 100 per program, and see significant cost savings of an already paid-for architecture that took the mass out, helping us self-fund electrification programs."

GM will plow a large amount of the money it saves into its ambitious EV program. In 2017, the automaker said it intends to have 20 electric vehicles on the market by the end of 2023, some of which could be shared between brands. An automotive analyst at Seeking Alpha and a piece in Automobile attempted to put specifics to what we should expect. As Automobile points out, the first two EVs in the 20-car program are already on sale, being the Ariv Meld and Ariv Merge eBikes available in Belgium and The Netherlands. We've seen the Cruise Origin autonomous rideshare taxi, although we don't know when it will hit the road. The next three, which we should see in the metal shortly, are two Cadillac EVs and the GMC Hummer EV pickup. The Cadillac pair are expected to be sized like the XT4 and XT5, and along with the Hummer, should hit the market starting in late 2021.

After that, from small to large, the analyst has pegged nine more EVs as:

  • A Chevrolet Bolt replacement
  • A crossover version of the Chevrolet Bolt replacement that offers all-wheel drive
  • A compact crossover perhaps badged as a Chevrolet and a Buick, about the size of the Chevy Equinox, and a luxurious Cadillac version
  • A luxury electric Cadillac sedan to challenge the Tesla Model S
  • An electric van/minivan akin to the Volkswagen ID Buzz concept
  • A three-row SUV possibly for Chevrolet and GMC, along with a Cadillac version in the orbit of the XT6 or Escalade

All of that seems within the realm of possibility. Perhaps the most fringe idea the analyst has is that Cadillac, having pledged to resurrect proper names for its vehicles, could dredge up the name El Dorado. "[How] could any name be more natural than Eldorado? The Electric Dorado — get it?" We'll get more information come April, when the first Cadillac EV, its BEV 3 architecture and flexible, modular battery pack steps into the light.

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