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GM unveils Silverado EV as electric and self-driving vehicles take center stage at CES

Gadgets steal the show at Day 1 of CES 2022
Gadgets steal the show at Day 1 of CES 2022 05:01

General Motors CEO Mary Barra unveiled the automaker's new electric truck at this year's CES event in Las Vegas on Wednesday, calling the Chevy Silverado EV a "revolutionary" automobile that will disrupt the electric vehicle market.

The new pickup, set to be released in the fall of 2023 with a starting price of about $40,000, will be able to travel 400 miles on a full charge and can be customized to include power outlets capable of charging a second electric vehicle. The fully electric truck is part of GM's plans to invest $35 billion on electric and autonomous vehicles over the next three years.

The Silverado EV will offer a "mix of capability, performance, safety, flexibility and design that catapults this electric truck for both fleet and retail customers into a category of its own," Barra said.

GM is counting on its push into the electric vehicle market to turbocharge lagging sales. The company rolled out the Silverado EV just a day after GM's year-end sales numbers showed it now ranks second to Japan-based automaker Toyota in U.S. vehicle sales. For nearly a century, GM sold more cars to U.S consumers than any other automaker, but last year Toyota sold 114,000 more cars than its rival. 

The Chevy Silverado EV WT, which GM plans to introduce in the fall of 2023, will have an expected range of 400 miles fully charged and offer up to 10,000 pounds of trailering capacity. GM

Barra's remarks at the annual consumer electronics show, where more than 200 companies from transportation-related industries alone are represented this year, highlighted the rapidly changing auto landscape that is quickly steering toward electric and self-driving vehicles.

GM has manufactured mostly gas-guzzling cars and trucks for more than a century. Now it aims to roll out more than 30 electric vehicle models in the next three years and wants to become a carbon-neutral company by 2040.

Barra also announced that GM plans to convert more than 50% of its manufacturing footprint in North America and China to electric vehicles by 2030 and promised that all of its U.S. plants will be powered by 100% renewable energy in the next three years.

GM had previously announced that all of its light-duty vehicles will be electric by 2035, and on Wednesday Barra said it will also electrify its heavy-duty fleet by then. 

The company is building two battery plants in Ohio and Tennessee and plans to create two more in the U.S to meet what's expected to be growing demand for electric vehicle batteries in the years to come.

"Our commitment to a vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion has become a movement and has positioned us ahead of much of the competition," Barra said during a live-streamed speech from the Fox Theater in Detroit.

The spotlight on the auto industry continues Thursday at CES when U.S Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg delivers a keynote address. Buttigieg, speaking remotely, is expected to discuss the different ways that innovation and technology in the industry will impact access to transportation in the future.

Self-driving race

While many analysts expect electric vehicles to capture much of the auto market by the end of this decade, the technology powering self-driving cars is also plowing ahead. That advance will be highlighted on Friday at CES with the first-ever autonomous vehicle race competition.

The Indy Autonomous Challenge is organized and hosted by Indianapolis-based non-profit Energy Systems Network (ESN). The competition includes nine teams from eight countries, representing 19 universities around the world that are working to improve self-driving technology.

CNET editor-at-large previews new tech products at CES 2022 04:41

"The Indy Autonomous Challenge is working to advance tech that will speed the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and deployments of advanced driver-assistance systems," said Paul Mitchell, CEO of ESN.

During a press conference ahead of the race, Mitchell said that every company will eventually have its own algorithm controlling a vehicle, emphasizing that they will need to communicate with each other on the road.

"You're going to have Waymo, Cruise, Uber and Tesla and many other algorithms that are going to have to come in contact with one another on the highway at 70 miles per hour, and we've got to start testing that if we're going to get to that future environment," he said.

The autonomous race car competition has already generated buzz as one of the teams participating broke the world record for the fastest self-driving car ahead of the race.

The record-breaking feat was accomplished by the PoliMOVE team, a collaborative effort between students, researchers and professors at the University of Alabama and Milan's Polytechnical Institute. The self-driving car from PoliMOVE reached a speed of nearly 176 mph on a racetrack.

Mitchell predicted that self-driving cars could eventually reach speeds of 300 mph. He said that the autonomous challenge is not meant to replace traditional race car drivers, but the technology could disrupt motorsports. And in the long-run, as self-driving cars improve, a head-to-head race between man and machine is "inevitable," Mitchell predicted.

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