Report: GM nixed electric vans, is rushing plug-in hybrid pickups

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General Motors has cancelled plans for more electric vans and a Ford Maverick-sized electric pickup trucks as it undertakes a “crash program” to launch plug-in hybrid pickups, Autoweek reported Tuesday.

The automaker has nixed electric replacements for the ancient Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans based on the BrightDrop electric delivery van, according to the report, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

BrightDrop EV600

It’s unclear where this places GM’s BrightDrop unit, which was due to develop a smaller model below its Zevo 400 (originally named EV410). GM has paused production at the Canadian plant for the electric vans since last year, due to a lack of its Ultium battery cells, but it’s due to restart it again soon.

As GM pivots away from more electric vans and a smaller electric pickup below the full-size Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV, it’s reportedly developing plug-in hybrid versions of the Silverado and Sierra. This follows GM’s announcement last month to add plug-in hybrids to its U.S. lineup, reversing a previous EV-only policy.

2013 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid

2013 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid

GM has made clear to Green Car Reports in previous interviews that that there’s no possibility to engineer plug-in hybrids—or a range extender—as part of its Ultium platform. On the other hand, GM offered its Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra as hybrids until the 2013 model year, then quietly dropped them. That so-called Two-Mode Hybrid system delivered impressive drivability by the time it was discontinued. As it backed away from its hybrid strategy, GM also built a small number of trucks to test a third generation of its eAssist mild-hybrid system for the 2016 model year.

At the time that it made the decision to kill its Two-Mode Hybrid trucks, GM was already developing a less expensive version of that system with plug-in hybrid capability. So it’s unclear whether GM might revive that project, or choose to buy something off the shelf to quickly get plug-in hybrid pickups to showrooms.

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