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General Motors Co. will start selling a battery-powered Chevrolet Blazer next year, giving it a direct competitor to Tesla Inc.’s Model Y, the nation’s best-selling electric SUV.
The electric Blazer model will go on sale in the summer of 2023, the automaker said July 18, quickly following the launch of the Chevy Silverado EV, with the $30,000 Equinox coming later in the year.
The three vehicles, two of which — the Blazer and Equinox — will be made in Mexico, kick off GM’s long-awaited effort to establish the kind of lead in mass-market EV sales that the company has in internal combustion models. At the moment, the company’s newest EVs are pricey models from Hummer and Cadillac.
The Blazer will use the Ultium battery that the company has been developing for several years with Korean partner LG. The automaker has been saying that with the dedicated Ultium platform, its vehicles will be more profitable, easier to build and go farther before needing a recharge.
“This is a massive statement for us,” said Chevrolet Vice President Scott Bell. “Silverado is the first. Blazer is the next piece of that puzzle. We see that 35% of consumers are considering buying an EV. It will have really broad appeal.”
That trio of vehicles could lead GM past all rivals, including market-leader Tesla, in electric vehicle sales by 2025, Bank of America Securities analyst John Murphy said in his “Car Wars” report. By then, Murphy forecasts that GM will have more than 14% of U.S. EV market share and Ford Motor Co. will be slightly ahead of Tesla at more than 10%.
The Blazer’s range, which is a key selling point for EVs these days, will beat Tesla and match other competitors like the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Tesla’s Model Y costs almost $66,000 and goes 318 miles on a charge. The Blazer’s 320-mile RS version goes for $52,000.
One problem for GM is that its dedicated battery, which comes out after other models came to market, isn’t delivering much better range compared with its traditional competitors. The $45,000 version of the Blazer is $1,000 more than the Ford and both go 247 miles on a charge. Premium versions of both vehicles have similar extended ranges — and price points.
“At each price point, it’s almost the same range as the Mach-E,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at research firm Guidehouse Insights.
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But GM says that the Silverado electric truck will have 400 miles of range, which beats Ford’s Lightning pickup because the company can fit more battery in the dedicated truck platform, but for smaller models the performance is close.
The real advantage of the Ultium battery will be in GM’s ability to get 20 models out globally in the next two years and build scale in a way that quickly improves profitability, Abuelsamid said. GM has two U.S. battery plants and two more in the works. At the start of production, that will lower battery costs for GM while other competitors are still getting cell manufacturing going.
The platform may also enable GM to sell the Chevy Equinox small SUV next year starting at $30,000 and give middle-market buyers a vehicle with decent range and a roomy cabin. And GM may be able to make money doing it, according to Abuelsamid.
“They can get profit advantage over Ford,” Abuelsamid said. “It will be an advantage to consumers when they launch the Equinox because they can sell them at a lower price point.”