Autos

GM's CEO deflects questions about Tesla's Cybertruck, but sees electric pickups as significant

Key Points
  • General Motors' Mary Barra sees a big opportunity in electric pickups — a new segment that's gotten a lot of attention since Tesla's Cybertruck unveiling.
  • Refusing to comment directly on the polarizing Cybertruck, she says, "It's the customer's decision to decide, not General Motors, certainly not me as the CEO."
  • However, Barra says she "couldn't be more excited about our battery-electric truck," which is expected in 2021 and will get its batteries from a new joint venture.
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Mary Barra: GM will have a strong battery electric truck that meets consumers' needs

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said Thursday that she sees a big opportunity in all-electric pickup trucks — a new segment that's gotten a lot of attention since Tesla's splashy Cybertruck unveiling last month.

"That market can be very significant, and we're excited in the not-too-distant-future to share what our entry will be," Barra told CNBC's Phil LeBeau in a "Squawk on the Street" interview.

Refusing to comment directly on the polarizing Cybertruck, she said, "It's the customer's decision to decide, not General Motors, certainly not me as the CEO."

However, she added, "I couldn't be more excited about our battery-electric truck. It capitalizes on all of our knowledge of trucks. So I'm excited to get the reaction from that."

GM's electric pickup, expected in 2021, would get batteries from an Ohio factory that will be built as part of a new partnership between GM and LG Chem to make battery cells for electric vehicles.

The Detroit auto giant and South Korea's biggest chemical company said Thursday they plan to invest as much as $2.3 billion by 2023 to form the equally-owned joint venture.

But GM said early versions of the electric pickup will get batteries from a different LG plant until the Ohio facility is fully up and running.

Pickup trucks are one of the most profitable vehicle segments in the world, with the U.S. market largely dominated by GM's Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, Fiat Chrysler's Ram and Ford's F-150.

Ford also intends to sell an electric F-series pickup truck in late 2021, Reuters reported.

— CNBC's Michael Wayland and Reuters contributed to this report.