General Motors: Australia is cornerstone of expansion plans

Australia will be the “cornerstone” of General Motors’ international expansion in the coming years as it transitions from a hairy-chested V8 brand to an EV-only offering.

Christian Sommer, GM’s managing director of strategic markets, alliances and distributors, says the brand has “ambitious targets” in overseas markets, including Australia.

“We want to expand our international reach. Australia and New Zealand are the absolute backbone of this region. We are always looking for new opportunities,” he says.

“At the moment we are exploring the possibilities of Australia. I think we have a very compelling franchise where we have the Light and Heavy Duty Silverado and the Corvette C8.

“We have a lot of Down Under fans. Now we have more fans than cars that we can give. This is something that we want to improve and change in the long term,” he says.

He wasn’t interested in what GM products might make it to Australia, but low-volume premium EVs would likely justify the investment in a right-hand drive program.

It does Hammer EV, Electric Silverado Ute and the all-new Cadillac LYRIQ SUV are the most likely candidates. LYRIQ is an electric SUV with a range of up to 600 km, designed to compete with the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Sommer says the company is doing “deep analysis and research” to identify any potential opportunities in Australia.

However, he warns that global component shortages and strong overseas demand for electric vehicles could delay any expansion of the local market.

“They are in high demand, but we also believe that Australia is an important market for us. This is a cornerstone in terms of our future for strategic markets as well as for GM International,” he says.

GM International President Shilpin Amin says that designing left-hand drive or right-hand drive cars is “much easier” on an electric vehicle platform.

“Because of how efficient it is to build it up front with left hand drive and right hand drive markets in mind, you no longer need volume to justify it. In fact, you can do it quite effectively at any volume for markets around the world,” he says.

Cadillac, which planned to launch in Australia before the global financial crisis in 2009 and then sensationally exited the market, will lead GM’s electrification efforts.

After 2026, the company will not produce new cars with a gasoline engine, and by 2030 it will become only electric vehicles.

Sommer says the company has made progress on three major pain points: cost, range, and charging time.

“We have greatly improved the Ultium battery system in terms of cost, which will go hand in hand with reduced charging times. We already offer a range of 600 km… and further improvements will be made before the end of the decade,” he says.

GM’s all-new electric vehicle platform has a 40 percent cost advantage over the previous platform, and the next generation will have a 60 percent advantage.

He predicts that by the end of this decade, prices for electric vehicles will equal those of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

“We believe that electric vehicles are for everyone. We want everyone to participate, which means we offer them at a price that people can afford,” he says.

Mark Ebolo, managing director of GM Australia and New Zealand, says the foundations have been laid for a “very bright future” in the local market.

“GM Specialty Vehicles have seen fantastic growth since their November 2020 launch, with demand for the Silverado lineup, including the 1500 and Heavy Duty models, showing no signs of slowing down. We also have the first of our very happy and excited C8 Corvette Stingray customers getting their hands on one of the most sought after vehicles on the automotive market today, and the next wave of anticipation is building up ahead of the phenomenal new global Corvette Z06 supercar.

Originally published as General Motors is considering expanding the Australian lineup.