Barely a year after launching its first all-electric model, the Hummer EV, GMC is placing another big bet on battery power with the debut of the 2024 Sierra EV.
The all-electric version of its popular pickup line will debut in early 2024 with a Denali-based Edition 1 package starting at $107,000. It will deliver up to 400 miles per charge, add up to 100 miles range in as little as 10 minutes and deliver enough muscle to tow a 9,500-pound trailer, the automaker boasted.
The goal is to then expand the number of trim packages and features, with an off-road-oriented Sierra EV AT4 package to follow for 2025, along with the Sierra EV Elevation model coming in around $50,000.
Aiming for EV truck leadership
By the time the Sierra EV reaches showrooms, GMC will have three all-electric models, including both pickup and SUV versions of the Hummer. And a report on Bloomberg Thursday suggested the brand is working on a smaller Hummer package while TheDetroitBureau.com reported previously GMC will follow with an all-electric version of its midsize Canyon.
“GMC plans to take a leadership position in the EV truck space,” Duncan Aldridge, the head of the brand, said during a media background briefing Thursday, hours before opening a web page to begin taking orders for the 2024 Sierra EV Denali First Edition.
The automaker appears to have reason for its confidence, Aldridge noting it’s already logged reservations for more than 100,000 Hummers, and has shut off the order bank because it will take “two years” to meet that demand.
As for the Sierra EV, “This is going to have much broader appeal by differentiat(ing) hugely” from the Hummer,” Aldridge forecast.
The two electric trucks are based on the same “Ultium architecture” and they will share the same basic lithium-ion batteries GMC parent General Motors plans to use for as many as 30 all-electric models by 2025. But the Sierra EV will adopt a lower, narrower layout, more in tune with the existing gas- and diesel-powered versions.
The skateboard-like Ultium platform will have its batteries and motors mounted below the load floor. That will create a number of advantages, Nichole Kraatz, the chief engineer, explained. For one thing, there’ll be space for a large “frunk,” or front trunk, where the engine compartment normally would be located. And there’s a large cabin with a flat load floor.
Like the Chevrolet Silverado EV set to go on sale in early 2023, the Sierra model will get a split/fold midgate that can be used to extend the size of the cargo bed which normally measures up to 5’11”. That stretches to about 9 feet with either part or all of the liftgate folded. And, with the tailgate lowered, it extends again to around 11 feet.
Aerodynamics are essential to EV design
Unlike the Silverado EV, however, the GMC truck doesn’t get distinctive flying buttresses behind the cabin. The look is more like the classic version of the Sierra — until you make a closer inspection.
As with all modern EVs, there’s been an extensive focus on reducing wind drag, noted design chief Sharon Gauci. That’s essential to ensure maximum range, performance and capacity. The most obvious change comes with the sealed grille with its LED fame and crowned GMC logo. It conceals the frunk, rising up with the electrically operated hood.
Luxury meets technology
Inside, the Sierra EV First Edition takes the Denali concept to extremes. The brand-within-a-brand today accounts for more than a quarter of GMC sales — even more on the Sierra. And the automaker intends to justify the six-figure price tag with features like open-pore wood and double- and triple-stitched panels, as well as quilted leather seats.
The product development team has blended traditional and modern luxury with a distinctively high-tech focus. There are plenty of USB outlets, and a hidden wireless smartphone charger in a spacious center console with extensive storage space.
The truck features a 14-inch head-up display, and an 11-inch digital instrument cluster, as well as a vertically oriented 16.8-inch touchscreen that can be extensively reconfigured by an owner. It can display and operate three apps simultaneously.
Of course, the tech that matters most is the drivetrain. There will be a variety of configurations in the coming mix of Sierra EV trim packages. First out of the box, the Edition 1 will get a twin-motor all-wheel-drive layout making up to 754 horsepower and 785 pound-feet of torque in “Max Power” mode, according to preliminary estimates.
That, according to Aldridge, will provide the muscle to launch to 60 in as little as 4.5 seconds, with a maximum payload of 1,300 pounds and a towing capacity of 9,500 pounds. By comparison, Ford’s F-150 Lightning can deliver a maximum 580 hp and 775 lb-ft, though it can hit 60 in just over 4 seconds, depending upon trim. The Ford has a roughly half-ton higher payload capacity, at 2,235 pounds, and it haul up to 7,700 pounds in standard configuration — 10,000 pounds with the Max Tow package.
But where Lightning peaks at 320 miles per charge, the 2024 GMC Sierra Denali Edition 1 will deliver a max of 400 miles. And it uses a hybrid 400/800-volt electrical architecture capable of adding as much as 100 miles of additional range in just 10 minutes when plugged into a 350-kilowatt public charger.
GMC says a number of additional specs will be released closer to the Sierra EV’s launch. That includes full charging times on public quick DC charging and home 240-volt AC chargers.
Other features include V2L and “crabwalking”
The electrical system will be able to provide up to 10.2 kilowatts of offboard power, with as many as 10 120- and 240-volt outlets. It also will have the capacity to plug into a V2L, or Vehicle-to-Load system. This can be used to backup power to a home, for example, during a black-out.
The Sierra EV First Edition will borrow some features from the big Hummer EV, including the ability to “crabwalk,” where the rear wheels angle at the same direction as those up front to move diagonally. Along with more conventional four-wheel-steering, the new pickup will have a turning circle of just 42 feet, about that of a midsize sedan.
The truck will get paddles on the steering wheel allowing a motorist to increase the level of brake regeneration, the energy recaptured during braking an coasting and returned to the battery pack. In 1-Pedal mode, a driver will simply need to modulate the throttle, rather than flipping back and forth between brake and accelerator, in most driving situations.
And the Sierra EV Denali Edition 1 will feature the latest version of GM’s Super Cruise. By the time it reaches showrooms the system will operate hands-free on 400,000 miles of U.S. and Canadian roadways. It also will be able to automatically pass slower-moving vehicles.
Plenty of demand — but competition is growing fast
As a “more traditional pickup,” Aldridge expects the Sierra EV to deliver even broader demand than the Hummer, attracting relatively conventional pickup buyers. That earlier GMC EV has brought in the sort of folks more likely to buy sports cars and exotics. But classic pickups account for more than one in seven of the vehicles sold in the U.S. each year and there are signs that millions of potential customers are thinking about the benefits of going electric.
One reason is the lower operating cost. According to Consumer Reports and others, going electric can reduce energy and maintenance costs by as much as half.
Demand for the Hummer isn’t only reason GMC officials are upbeat. By some estimates, Tesla has a backlog of 1 million or more reservations for its long-awaited and much-delayed Cybertruck — which CEO Elon Musk promises will finally debut in 2023.
Additionally, Ford has over 250,000 reservations for the Lightning as well.
But competition is expected to get fierce, with EV pickups coming from all over. Ford has confirmed one more model is in the works but is widely expected to add all-electric versions of both the little Maverick and midsize Ranger. Stellantis is readying a Ram 1500 EV for 2024 and may add more models. Rivian is struggling to meet demand for the R1T and Lordstown has defied naysayers with the production launch of the Endurance. Other startups, such as Atlis, as well as traditional brands including Toyota, Kia and Honda are expected to follow.