Detroit — General Motors Co. early Monday will showcase a redesign of its iconic GM logo atop its Renaissance Center headquarters, another step in its plan to sell 1 million electric vehicles globally by 2025.
The move comes as part of a new campaign to encourage EV adoption, dubbed “Everybody In,” that will be accompanied by a new GM website highlighting electrification efforts and a new GM logo that makes a lowercase “m” look like a plug. It’s GM’s first logo change in 11 years, its fifth in 113 years — and the most progressive ever, a potentially risky move for a company that still makes big money on gas-powered pickups and SUVs.
GM is pushing to prove itself a leader in the electric vehicle segment that Tesla Inc. continues to dominate. Electric vehicle sales made up about 4% of sales in 2020, according to data from Cox Automotive. But automakers, like GM, are investing billions to make them and persuade people to buy them with the goal of zero emissions.
“General Motors is on the cusp of a lot of new direction,” said Karl Brauer, executive analyst for iseecars.com. “It’s kind of in a transition point right now and to call that out with something fairly dramatic and visible … is smart.”
But Brauer also noted the “General Motors logo has a lot of equity, a lot of history, and you have to be careful whenever you throw away brand equity … the GM logo certainly has value.”
Signs on GM’s Renaissance Center headquarters downtown will transition to the new logo at midnight going into Monday. For the first week, the signs on the Ren Cen will show an animation of the old logo morphing into the new logo. GM will work over the next several months to change all the signs on the properties it owns across the country. The campaign and logo will launch first in the U.S. before spreading to company sites around the world.
GM’s chief marketing officer, Deborah Wahl, wouldn’t specify how much GM is spending on the campaign. The new logo will appear wherever the current GM logo is, but it will not adorn vehicles.
“In the past there was an effort that we had a GM logo on everything,” she said. “We’re not going to that point, this is really showing what the corporate brand is doing.”
GM’s most aggressive logo change prior to this was in 1964 and from then on only some subtle changes were made. The switch is likely another attempt by GM to show Wall Street it is serious about its pivot to EVs and associated technology — even if the automaker’s shares lost 26 cents in Friday trading to close the week at $43.06.
“They’re definitely trying to get Wall Street’s attention with this, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the primary motivator here,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst leading Guidehouse Insights. “The primary thing is to get consumers to start thinking about GM when they think about EVs. What we’re going to be seeing from GM is essentially a slate of EVs that cover almost every market segment, and a wide range of price points.”
GM contends the “Everybody In” campaign evokes inclusiveness and accessibility, even as the automaker’s latest EV, the GMC Hummer, is set to be priced at $112,595 when the first edition makes its debut later this year. Cadillac, GM’s luxury brand, is the automaker’s electric flagship, but the automaker has said it will offer a range of EVs for everybody. On the lower end, GM offers the 2021 Bolt EV starting at $36,500.
“We talk specifically about the 30 EVs by 2025, and to get to that number that does have to be all inclusive and really address all these different segments, so I would say stay tuned — more news, lots more news coming on all these fronts,” Wahl said on a call announcing the campaign and logo redesign.
The campaign announcement comes ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show happening next week in a virtual format. GM CEO Mary Barra, a keynote speaker on Tuesday, is expected to make news about future GM EVs.
The Detroit automaker is spending $27 billion through 2025 on autonomous and electric vehicle technology. It plans to offer 30 all-electric models globally by mid-decade, and it plans to make 40% of its U.S. entries battery-electric vehicles by the end of 2025.
The “Everybody In” campaign focuses on three themes: creating a new generation of EV buyers to accelerate adoption; demonstrating GM’s EV plans; and highlighting the range, performance and flexibility of GM’s new Ultium battery platform.
Michele Krebs, executive analyst at AutoTrader, said a Cox Automotive study on mass consumer acceptance of EVs found that “it will require all hands on deck — to build the nationwide charging infrastructure, to educate and enthuse dealers on the front line as well as consumers about the myths and truths of EVs. The new GM slogan acknowledges that, in my mind.”
Influencers like Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point,” and professional surfer and shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton are pushing the campaign.
To accompany the “Everybody In” campaign and new GM brand identity, GM will launch a new GM.com site on Monday.
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