A recent interview that General Motors President Mark Reuss gave at the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race revealed some interesting things regarding the automaker's plans to join Ford and Jeep in the body-on-frame 4x4 market. Once dominated solely by Jeep with its iconic Wrangler 4x4, the segment now also includes the retro-tastic Ford Bronco. Conspicuously absent, though, is a competitor from GM.
Reuss says that's intentional. Speaking to The Drive, he asserted, "I'm not gonna do a Bronco," or at least one powered by a gas engine, as he later alluded.
The reason for GM not joining the fray with an ICE-powered 4x4 is pretty simple: it's too late. Reuss said he doesn't want to be "late to the party." Apparently, Ruess believes being last is a bad thing.
The fact that Reuss indicated an EV 4x4 to compete with the Wrangler and Bronco wasn't out of the question is a big deal.
The other reason Reuss gave is that adding another gas-powered vehicle to the company's portfolio is a step backwards within its overall electrification plan. He even cited Ford having to sell the hybrid Maverick compact pickup truck to offset its many vehicles powered by internal combustion engines that bring down the company's Corporate Average Fuel Economy.
When The Drive asked Reuss if an electric off-roader was in the cards, though, his answer was, "I didn't say that." Automaker executives don't say things by accident, especially to reporters, so the fact that Reuss indicated an EV 4x4 to compete with the Wrangler and Bronco wasn't out of the question is a big deal.
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GM already has the pieces parts to build a great electric trail buster. One only needs to consider what it's done with the Hummer EV and that truck's prodigious power and off-road capabilities as proof. Automotive News has even reported GM is considering a mid-size version of the Hummer EV.
Could a mid-size Hummer EV be the Bronco and Wrangler competitor to which Reuss was gently referring? Possibly, especially since Chevrolet has already given its most famous trail-busting moniker, Blazer, to a gas-powered, unibody, two-row, on-road, family SUV. An electric version of the latter is coming, but it won't be designed for off-roading.
The segment we're talking about is also not a complete stranger to electrification. Jeep has seen success with the launch of its plug-in hybrid line of 4xe models, which includes the Wrangler 4xe. Whether or not the current Wrangler platform could support full electrification is unknown, but the brand has introduced a number of all-electric Jeep Wrangler concept vehicles in the past.
What we do know is that electrification will enter every segment of the automotive market in the US. GM could be the one to tip the hardcore body-on-frame 4x4 class towards that future with its first all-electric entrant. Some automaker, though, will do it eventually regardless.