New Sierra Denali EV design heavily inspired by Rivian R1T as GM explains doctored image retraction
Last week, General Motors unveiled the 2024 electric GMC Sierra Denali Edition 1 version of its storied heavy-duty pickup truck to great fanfare, and said that the pricey EV will start from US$107,000. It offers up to 754 HP and 785 pound-feet of torque, depending on the config, as well as about 400 miles of range on a charge from its modern 800V system.
The GMC Sierra EV towing capacity is rated at up to 9,500 lbs, while the truck does 0-60 mph in under 4.5 seconds time. These are some very competitive specs that rival those of its main current competitor, the Rivian R1T model that is already on the market and sells for a very similar price.
It seems that exactly Rivian's R1T looks may have been one of the General Motors' design team main inspirations while developing the electric Denali. The GM Design Instagram account was caught red-handed posting a teaser GMC Sierra Denali Edition 1 image that eagle-eyed observers immediately recognized.
Barring the Photoshop-induced changes to the rear of the Sierra, the concept image looked very much like an R1T teaser that Rivian has on its website, down to the rustling leaves sent to the wind by the electric Sierra's 35" tires on 24" alloy wheels.
Needless to say, design teams get a lot of their inspiration while studying the competition, and no external appearance exists in vacuum appearing out of the blue in someone's head, as there are practical engineering concerns to be solved before the finalized exterior hits retail. That's what might have happened with GM's Rivian R1T poaching as this could've been just one in the series of sketches that design teams do on the way to their retail vision.
GM seems to be confirming that something similar may have occurred by replying to a request for a comment that the image was meant for internal consumption and should never have been posted for the public to see:
The GM Design Instagram channel is meant to give followers an inside look at the process of designing new products and the creative teams behind it. Often, these posts use sketches made for internal studio use during design development. The sketch in question was intended for internal use only, and was posted without the necessary approval. It has been removed from the GM Design Instagram page.
The GMC Sierra Denali Edition 1 image has indeed subsequently been retracted by General Motors, but it's probably inevitable that a legacy automaker looks up to an EV startup for design and specs tips during its multibillion electrification crusade.