Today’s Pickup: heavy-duty pickup trucks would pay for GM’s “all-electric” ambitions

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Good day,

General Motors, the largest automaker in the U.S., has reiterated its plans to go all-electric across its whole vehicle lineup during its quarterly earnings meeting this week. Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, also mentioned that though they are gunning for a future with electric vehicles, she does not expect the segment to make profits until early next decade.

This brings us to the question – what would be funding this “all-electric” exercise of GM? The answer, quite understandably, lies in the very vehicle that the battery-powered automobiles are looking to replace – the heavy-duty pickup trucks that run on diesel. Unlike GM’s dismal electric vehicle sales, its pickup sales have been nothing short of spectacular, bringing in $65 billion in annual revenue. The heavy-duty versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra alone account for 20 percent of GM’s full-size truck sales.

Data shows that the operating profit on heavy-duty pickup trucks is at least $12,000 a piece, with GM selling more than 200,000 such vehicles last year, and hoping to sell even more this year. So it is sardonic to see that these pickups fund programs like the self-driving GM Cruise, which is yet to see the light of day, and the slow-moving electric Chevrolet Bolt that does not seem to do well in the market. Then again, automakers around the world are looking to bolster their public perception by reducing their carbon footprint, and GM is no different.

Did you know?

Customers across the world return nearly $1 trillion in merchandise annually. About 30% of all ecommerce merchandise is returned, while the brick and mortar return rate is a more modest 10%.


“The warehousing and logistics robot market is experiencing strong growth, and supply chains are being transformed as companies replace fixed infrastructure and outdated processes with flexible, scalable robotic solutions to meet the changing demands of modern commerce.”

– Glenn Sanders, senior analyst at Tractica, on the growth of robotics in warehousing

In other news:

How Uber Eats is turning into a billion-dollar business to rival Grubhub

Uber takes a 30% cut and a delivery fee, then pays drivers, suggesting that Uber Eats could generate at least $1 billion in revenue this year, or an estimated 7% to 10% of the total. (Forbes)

Daimler cuts dividend as downturn, R&D costs hit Mercedes

Daimler cut its dividend on Wednesday after Q4 operating profit plunged by 22 percent, hit by trade wars, rising costs for developing electric cars and an industry downturn that has dented even the most profitable carmakers. (Reuters)

Tesla and Mercedes-Benz might collaborate over an electric van

Tesla and Mercedes-Benz are in talks about a potential collaboration on an electric version of Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter van. (Business Insider)

Lyft’s new ‘Green Mode’ lets riders request an EV

The Green Mode option launched in Seattle on February 6, and Lyft will introduce it to other parts of the country later. Lyft plans on introducing “thousands” of EVs onto its platform this year.  (Electrek)

Thieves prefer to steal food cargo, target trucks over warehouses

Trucks in transit are the prime target for cargo thieves, with food and beverage cargo logging the highest rates of theft, according to an industry report. (Trucks)

Final thoughts:

In its regulatory filing this week, Amazon has added “transportation and logistics services” to its winding list of services that it views as competition, confirming speculations about its decision to take absolute control of every nodal point within its supply chain. Apart from its frontal ecommerce platform, Amazon also runs Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) centers that cover the warehousing needs of its sellers. Though Amazon does lease out a fleet of airplanes to help with expediting its Amazon Prime shipments, it has predominantly banked on shipping partners like USPS, UPS, and FedEx to help it make a bulk of the deliveries. But by adding transportation to its list of services, Amazon looks to be finally ready to make the jump into last-mile delivery.

Hammer down everyone!

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Vishnu Rajamanickam, Staff Writer

Vishnu writes editorial commentary on cutting-edge technology within the freight industry, profiles startups, and brings in perspective from industry frontrunners and thought leaders in the freight space. In his spare time, he writes neo-noir poetry, blogs about travel & living, and loves to debate about international politics. He hopes to settle down in a village and grow his own food at some point in time. But for now, he is happy to live with his wife in the middle of a German metropolitan.