Whether you prefer your technology reasonably attainable or set in some far-flung future, General Motors has you covered.
Even though CES 2021 is an entirely digital affair, General Motors treated its keynote like a full-on event, releasing a whole host of concepts and teasers for vehicles and quasi-vehicles across its spectrum of companies.
CES staples like flying cars and self-driving pods made an appearance, as did a number of vehicle concepts that will be arriving in production form in the coming years. GM also used its keynote to announce new business ventures, if you're into that sort of thing. Let's run down all the new unveilings, piece by piece.
Air taxis, which is a more accurate name than flying cars, are always a hot topic at CES. While the technology and infrastructure might still be years away, if it ever reaches fruition, there's something about these personal aircraft that has CES attendees and fans enthralled every year.
General Motors made its first foray into electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles, or eVTOLs, by way of its Cadillac luxury marque. The vehicle lacks a name, and it's just a rendering for now, but the automaker showed off a virtual version of a single-seat personal aircraft meant to skip traffic by zipping from building to building above all the hullabaloo.
Like everything else you'll read about from the CES 2021 keynote, GM's eVTOL relies on electric propulsion, with a 90-kWh battery providing enough juice to send the craft zipping along at a solid 56 mph. Details are otherwise light, but the styling definitely has Cadillac in mind, with sleek lines reminiscent of another futuristic concept…
Autonomy? At my CES? In a move that should surprise nobody, Cadillac came out swinging with not one but two concepts based on futuristic methods of transportation.
The Halo autonomous pod follows the same design staples as many other self-driving vehicles of this type. The wheels are at the absolute ends of the body, leaving room for a positively luxurious interior that's meant to shuttle multiple people down the road in proper comfort. It's set up like a living room, so people can congregate and socialize instead of focusing on the traffic. There's a bit of a midcentury vibe going on inside, thanks to an extensive use of interesting lines and wood trim.
There's some neat tech tucked away in here, too, including biometric sensors that can read passengers' vital signs and change the temperature, lighting or even the cabin scent to keep everyone as chill as possible. There's no guarantee anything like this will ever reach production, but if we reach that point, it's good to know Cadillac's got us covered.
Cadillac already announced the Celestiq, which will be its fanciest sedan on offer, but at the CES 2021 keynote, the automaker finally saw fit to give us some details about its upcoming four-door, in addition to some new teasers.
Tucked into the shadows, the Celestiq mostly showed off its front end, with strong vertical lighting signatures on the side that are connected with even more light, like a sort of upside-down mustache of photons. Details on what lies beneath are sparse, but we know its electric powertrain will include both all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering.
The interior is what blows us away, though. The Celestiq's electrochromic glass roof is broken into quadrants, with localized dimming that lets each occupant pick how much light they want coming in from overhead. The dashboard will be sure to wow people with a pillar-to-pillar screen that stretches the width of the vehicle. We're not sure when we'll get to see the whole shebang, but we're more excited than ever after getting this early glimpse.
Chevrolet's first electric crossover will make its debut in February, alongside a revamped Bolt EV hatchback, and the Big Bowtie has seen fit to throw us yet another teaser, this time involving some compelling technology.
The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV will be the first Chevy-branded vehicle to come equipped with GM's Super Cruise driver-assistance system. Super Cruise allows for hands-free driving on premapped highways, and it monitors your attention with a camera to ensure your eyes stay on the road. The latest teaser showed off a shadowy Bolt EUV steering wheel with the LED light bar at 12 o'clock that signifies Super Cruise's presence.
Sadly, this system won't also make its way to the refreshed Bolt EV, which will likely sport new looks similar to what we've seen in previous Bolt EUV teasers, with thinner, more aggressive headlights and taillights. It appears the Bolt EV's general silhouette will translate nicely to a crossover, but it won't be much longer until we find out for sure.
General Motors will introduce a dozen new EVs over the next few years, split across multiple brands and vehicle types. To give us an idea of what to expect, GM's keynote included a whole host of concepts hidden in the shadows.
The GMC Hummer EV is front and center, flanked by Cadillac's Lyriq and Celestiq. The four vehicles in the back, though, look like nothing else we've seen. On the right, there's what appears to be a bright red electric pickup truck that carries a Colorado-ish footprint. On the left, there's a crossover that is rocking what appears to be Corvette headlights, which could be our first preview of an upcoming Corvette-branded SUV.
Either way, this image has our imaginations working overtime, wondering what else GM has up its sleeves.
GM rolled out a whole new corner of its business, which it calls BrightDrop. This is all about making business better through electrification and newfangled technology, whether it's electric versions of vehicles used in logistics or the underlying infrastructure that fleet managers need to make everything operate smoothly.
To give us some idea of what to expect from BrightDrop, GM unveiled the EV600 electric van concept. Running the same powertrain as found in the GMC Hummer EV, the EV600 promises up to 250 miles of range from its batteries, as well as a net storage capacity of 600 cubic feet. Its gross weight rating is under 10,000 pounds, and it'll be able to soak up 170 miles of range in an hour, when connected to a 120-kW DC fast charger. It's loaded with tech, too, like a 13.4-inch infotainment system and motion sensors in the cargo area.
Scheduled to debut later this year, GM has already promised the first 500 EV600 vans to FedEx. Other businesses keen to electrify their fleets will be able to purchase these sleek-sided commercial vehicles in 2022. Other medium-distance transportation solutions are apparently being cooked up, as well.
GM's BrightDrop also unveiled a vehicle that's… only sort of a vehicle.
The EP1 is an electric pallet that's capable of moving on its own. The idea here is that the EP1 would serve a short-distance purpose, whether it's shuttling cargo around a warehouse or between a delivery van and your front stoop. It sure as heck beats using a hand truck.
The EP1 has a built-in hub motor that propels the thing at speeds of up to 3 mph, which is about your average walking pace. The speed can vary to keep pace with a person, too. It'll handle up to 23 cubic feet and 200 pounds of cargo, with adjustable shelves and locking doors for extra safety. FedEx helped GM test out the EP1, and the logistics company found that its workers could handle 25% more packages in a day with the EP1 by their side.