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Kicking GM’s Tires in San Francisco

By Fai Lee CGA, CFA, Equity Analyst
Thursday, March 16, 2023

Equity Analyst Fai Lee at GM

We recently headed out on the road to attend an exclusive investor event hosted by General Motors outside of San Francisco. The event was an opportunity for us to experience the all-electric 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV. While in San Francisco, we also had the opportunity to ride in a Cruise self-driving car.

In April 2021, GM announced the expansion of its Hummer EV lineup to include the Hummer EV SUV in addition to the original Hummer EV Pickup. Production on the 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV began in early 2023 and customers will begin to receive deliveries at the end of this quarter. While we knew many of the vehicle features through online research, it was thrilling to experience them in person. With a price ranging from US$80,000-US$113,000, the vehicle includes a plethora of technological attributes such as its famous crabwalk ability. Experiencing the vehicle navigating an offroad course with about a foot of mud using the crabwalk feature was something to behold! The 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV has many other remarkable features as highlighted by Todd Hubbard, Vehicle Performance Engineer, in this video:

Given the event’s remote location, GM had a Hydrotec fuel-cell mobile power generator available to recharge the electric vehicles using clean fuel technology as opposed to a diesel generator. The power unit provides fast-charging for EVs without the need to install permanent charge points. In this video, Michael Bearman, Applications Program Manager, provides a brief overview of the Hydrotec fuel-cell mobile power generator. With the focus primarily on its EVs, it is easy to forget that GM is also a leader in the development of hydrogen fuel cells.

During a road test of the Hummer EV Pickup, we were surprised at how easy this large vehicle was to drive. It was smooth, powerful and responsive. The vehicle has a surprisingly tight turning radius thanks to its four-wheel turning system, making it very easy to handle.

After the investor event, we ventured out on the streets of San Francisco for a test drive in a Cruise self-driving car. Majority-owned by GM, Cruise is currently offering a night-time taxi service for select customers. Operating between 10:00 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., the service is limited to a specific geographical footprint. Riding in the Cruise driverless car was a surreal experience and some highlights from the 18-minute trip are captured in this video:

We felt completely safe maneuvering through intersections and making turns. At some points, we could sense the driving algorithm’s cautiousness in contrast to (impatient) human drivers. Impressively, the vehicle was capable of passing a double-parked car with its hazard lights on without any difficulty.

While we were excited by our experience, the Cruise service is not perfect and is still in the testing phase. The biggest challenge was getting the car to stop and allow us into the vehicle upon pick up, which took multiple attempts. Once the kinks are ironed out, we can see how Cruise could be a game-changer for GM. U.S. ride-hailing is a $50 billion market opportunity, and drivers represent the most significant expense.

Throughout this experience, we could sense GM’s employees’ joy and passion as they showed off their product. Based on our first-hand assessment of the GMC Hummer EV SUV, Hummer EV Pickup and Cruise self-driving car, we believe their enthusiasm is well warranted.    

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