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Holden Ute could return as EV by 2024

Plug-in hauler gets switched on by GM after it loses its partnership with ute-maker Rivian.

General Motors has confirmed it will sell an electric ute from 2024 which will compete with Tesla, start-up EV manufacturer Rivian and electric utes being planned by Ford.

The ute has tremendous applications and market appeal in the genre’s home market of Australia and could become the reborn Holden Ute.

GM president and former Holden managing director Mark Reuss said in New York last week that the ute will be one of a string of EVs ready for GM showrooms from 2023.

His comments follow those of GM CEO Mary Barra who in May said its EV program would include a truck.

The ute is GM’s answer to some frenetic EV activity at Ford and start-up ute-maker Rivian.

It also follows statements by Tesla boss Elon Musk that it was planning a ute that “will be a better truck than an F-150 in terms of truck-like functionality” and “be a better sports car than a standard 911."

GM talks with Rivian, which is ready to launch its R1T ute by 2021, fell through in February this year and opened the door for Ford which immediately invested $US500 million ($A715 million) in the start up.

Ford separately announced an electric F-150 ute and Mustang-based EV crossover was in the works.

Now GM president Reuss said at a transport conference in New York last week that a string of EVs would be launched based on a refined Autonomy platform - which could simply bolt to a variety of body styles - first shown by the company at the 2002 Detroit motor show.

Ford has announced an electric F-150 ute is in the works. Ford has announced an electric F-150 ute is in the works.

Rivian, incidentally, uses a similar skateboard platform that packages drivetrains and batteries separately from the body.

Mr Reuss said the EV’s BEV3 platform would first appear in a new Cadillac SUV in 2023.

In a report published by WardsAuto last week, Mr Reuss said: “We can build everything on this (platform) from just three drive units: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or e-all-wheel drive. This architecture is the canvas on which we will paint a profitable EV program.”

The platform is also flexible for right and left-hand drive layouts without the re-engineering required for conventional monocoque or ladder-frame chassis vehicles.

Mr Reuss said that the cost of building EVs would reach parity with internal combustion cars sooner than many people expect.

“We’re going to reach parity a lot sooner than people think,” he said in WardAuto’s report.

“Internal-combustion engine compliance will become expensive. All these things and more will lead to greater consumer acceptance of EVs. Plus, they are going to be great cars.”

Mr Reuss previously stated at the 2019 Detroit motor show in January that Cadillac would become the lead brand for GM’s EVs.

Using premium-brand Cadillac as the EV flagship will allow GM to charge more for its electric models, realising a quicker path to profiting from the expensive development costs.

However, the logic doesn’t quite sit with GM producing a Cadillac-badged ute and it may be sold as a GMC or Chevrolet.

The BEV3 platform isn’t the only electric architecture being developed by GM. It has announced it would launch an SUV based on the Chevrolet Bolt that uses the more conventional BEV2 platform.

Rivian is expected to release its R1T dual-cab ute, which claims a range of 640km, in 2021. Ford’s F-150 EV, which unlike the purpose-built Rivian uses a modified F-150 body, is expected in late 2020.

Holden said the statement by Mr Reuss related to a time period that was too far away to comment.

How does a plug-in and play Holden Ute appeal to you? Let us know in the comments.

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