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GM Looks to the Electric Future with a Tested Strategy

GM made motors for all kinds of vehicles – now they’re all in on tech

By Leo Shvedsky
December 02 2021
This Chevy drives itself. Cruise 

We don’t think it would be too controversial to say that General Motors (GM) is not quite what it used to be. In the middle-to-later parts of the twentieth century GM was everywhere, notably investing in eighties equivalent of big data and even aircraft. But we know the story - it was brought low by a yearslong combination of declining quality in search of higher profit margins, leading to not-so-great car sales and the most recent “knockout punch” financial crisis of the late aughts. More recently though, it seems like GM is staging a Britney Spears-like comeback, making strategic investments in new tech and rolling out extremely capable vehicles. 

Just recently GM acquired a Seattle-based start-up called Pure Watercraft, a company that makes outboard electric motors for boats. GM does have a Powered Solutions division which goes back to the 1930s - they currently produce engines for boats, back in the day you could’ve also stepped aboard a train powered by a GM diesel locomotive engine. This move with Pure Watercraft seems to harken back to this previous era of diversification, putting a GM engine in all kinds of things that move. 

See that little white box where the motor would be? That’s the electric drive unit. Pure Watercraft 

After the fairly recent (and sometimes controversial) government bailout, GM has been spreading its financial wings over the last few years by acquiring sizeable stakes in a number of other future-looking companies: Cruise, a self-driving vehicle start-up that they purchased for $1 billion in 2016, a further $139 million stake in SES a battery manufacturer, and a $300 million stake in China’s Momenta – an autonomous vehicle developer, both in 2021. These are sizeable investments in a wide avenue of businesses, but they all point in the same direction, towards electric, autonomous vehicles with robust battery technology. Sound familiar? 

Furthermore, recent releases of the all-electric Hummer (and its subsequent pre-order frenzy), and the much-anticipated Cadillac Lyric are all signs that GM is looking to the future instead of the past in a really big way. All in all, they are reportedly trying to invest $35 billion in tech associated with electrification and digitization within a span of just five years. Compare that with automotive juggernaut Volkswagen’s $86 billion investment in similar ventures and you begin to see just how huge the future of electrification will be.  

Hummer EV. GMC/GM 

These are all signals of a more robust showing by GM, and has paid dividends on the financial front as well. The old adage of spending money to make money seems to be paying off for as its stock is being recommended by outlets like Investopedia as solid investments along with favorites like Honda. 

So, is this really the John Travolta post-Pulp Fiction story for GM? To us it definitely seems like they’re making a solid go of transformation. Meaning that if their investments pay off, then we can be in for a GM-issaince in the coming years. 

Related: New Hummer EV Hits the Road: Large & In Charge



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