General Motors CEO Mary Barra made a slew of product announcements during CES 2022, with the biggest being an update on the Silverado EV. However, Chevrolet will need to fill out its ranks if it’s to become a totally electrified brand as planned, resulting in the confirmation of electric variants of the Equinox and Blazer.
With modestly sized crossovers and SUVs still gaining ground in North America, Barra believes it makes good sense to electrify a couple in the assumption that the segment will have a larger pool of customers to draw from. But there’s precious little detail about either model, minus GM’s promise to launch both models by 2023 and sell the Equinox EV for around $30,000.
On the surface, this is huge. Electric vehicles typically cost more than a similarly equipped and sized internal combustion vehicle, so anybody selling one for under $35,000 is already making news. But GM isn’t sharing hardly anything about either vehicle. We don’t even know if these upcoming crossovers will be wholly dependent on batteries or end up as plug-in hybrids.
Barra seemed to be confirming that they’d be shunning gasoline entirely and the relevant marketing materials don’t seem to indicate hybridization. Though that also poses a few problems. Chevrolet already sells an electrified sport utility compact with the Bolt EUV for around $33,500. Meanwhile, your standard Equinox retails for just below $26,000 (though you’d be hard-pressed to find one for that price right now) and is actually a little larger.
Selling an electrified variant less for roughly $30,000 would entail a massive price reduction for Bolt models or a highly specific, weak-assed powertrain being installed into the prospective Equinox EV. We could see GM making an eco-focused hybrid literally fitting the bill, as there are plenty of other vehicles with hybrid versions that don’t stray too far from the base price.
Another option is allowing the model to use older hardware, while other products run with the new Ultium platform, and discounting older BEVs until the electric Equinox’s $30k point of entry makes more sense. This one seems plausible, as the automaker has already suggested that Bolt models won’t be getting the new battery hardware that’s going into the Cadillac Lyric. They’ll be sticking with BEV2 for the foreseeable future and the manufacturer has already lowered prices. That could continue through 2023, giving the Chevys some financial distance from each other — assuming the older models stick around that long.
But let’s not forget that manufacturers have gotten in the extremely bad habit of announcing electric vehicle pricing with the associated tax credits. Mary Barra could simply be claiming the Equinox EV will have a $30,000 price tag after customers account for the relevant tax credits. Though that would be kind of dishonest, especially considering GM has already exhausted its quota (along with Tesla) and the revised plan under the Biden administration’s Build Back Better agenda is anything but settled upon.
Chevrolet could find itself in a position to have the federal government lopping $12,500 off the price if BBB passes. However, it’s currently not moving through Congress after numerous automakers (including Tesla) bemoaned its reliance on unionized labor to determine valuations and Senators argued the bill was loaded up with costly government projects and sweeping changes to the nation’s tax structure. If a revised version of the Build Back Better fails to pass (which seems possible), then GM might end up selling the Equinox EV north of $40,000.
Considering the Ford “Mustang” Mach-E starts around $44,000, a $30,000 Equinox EV using the Ultium platform seems pretty much impossible without some kind of massive incentivizing. Otherwise, GM has to either be prepping the crossover to be an ultra-low-range BEV with a teensy-tiny battery or an otherwise normal plug-in hybrid (which seems unlikely). We’re inclined to think that corporate leadership has simply opted to take into account renewed government discounts that don’t yet exist. It’s presumptuous, misleading, and potentially illegal if the Securities and Exchange Commission feels GM is misleading investors. But it has also become standard practice among plenty of automakers, especially those that plan on rolling out grimy subscription services for baked-in hardware, delivering software-focused “ownership experiences,” and leveraging customer data to enhance profitability at every opportunity — which General Motors absolutely is.
Could the upcoming Chevy Equinox EV start at $30,000 sans credits? Totally. But that doesn’t mean it will.
[Images: General Motors]
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