General Motors is turning to its past to tackle the electrical future
Ed Niedermeyer is the author, columnist and co-moderator of The Autonocast. His book Ludicrous: The unvarnished story of Tesla Motors, was released in August 2019.
Other contributions from this contributor
- GM unveils Ultium, the heart of its EV strategy
- Waymo's UX challenge is to get people to enjoy the ride
General Motors EV Day This was not just the introduction of a new flexible battery architecture and an ambitious plan to provide this foundation for all of the automaker's brands, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.
It was a resurrection, albeit with a modern twist.
This week's announcement has breathed new life into its brand manager – a portfolio that ranges from the heights of luxury to the most basic benefits – and given his hand on how electric vehicles will “get over the brink”.
This game plan is not new. GM is bringing back a strategy that once defined success and redesigned the American automotive landscape. This strategy worked for GM until complacency crept in and the brand leaders collapsed. This time GM is trying to avoid these traps.
Henry Ford's moving assembly line spawned the early auto industry, but as American prosperity grew in the 1910s and 20s, it was General Motors that laid the foundation for the modern auto market. Under the then chairman Alfred Sloan, the merger of once independent automakers united into a strategy that he said would create "a car for every budget and purpose". Of a Chevrolet value to a sporty Pontiac, from a discreetly plush Buick to a majestic Cadillac, and with countless brands in between, what became known as Sloanism gave rise to the idea that there should be a car that reflected the self-image and social status of every American.