Analysis: Chevy’s Blazer electric SUV struggles to stand out from the crowd

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DETROIT, July 14 (Reuters) – General Motors Co’s (GM.N) Chevy Blazer electric SUV will be crucial in the automaker’s effort to catch up with Tesla Inc. in the US electric vehicle market, but until When it hits showrooms next year, it will battle a crowd of vehicles that sits second in a segment dominated by Tesla’s Model Y.

The congestion in the electric SUV segment over the next few years could determine winners and losers in the US auto market for years to come.

According to AutoForecast Solutions, which tracks automakers’ future production plans, the US electric SUV market segment is expected to more than double to 2 million vehicles annually by 2026. However, more than 90 models could be competing for very small slices of that pie, AutoForecast Solutions and other analysts said.

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Tesla’s Model Y is by far the best-selling electric SUV today, and most analysts expect it will remain so four years from now.

LMC Automotive forecasts that by 2025 the Model Y will account for 15.6% of a compact and mid-size electric SUV segment of 13 vehicles including Ford Motor Co (FN) Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai (005380.KS) Ioniq5, and Rivian’s (RIVN.O) future compact SUV R2S. Chevy’s Blazer is expected to come in second, but with only 6.6% of segment sales.

For a graphic see: https://tmsnrt.rs/3yYZGJE

Bank of America analyst John Murphy warned in his annual “Car Wars” assessment of future models last month that automakers risk saturating the market with crossover utility vehicles, or CUVs, both electric and conventional.

“The profitability of the SUV segment is likely to decline significantly over time as competition increases,” Murphy wrote.

In light of this competitive challenge, Chevrolet dealerships will begin taking customer reservations for the electric Blazer on July 18, months ahead of the vehicles’ promised spring 2023 arrival.

Brad Sowers, owner of the Jim Butler Auto Group, which owns three Chevrolet stores in Missouri, said customers are already asking about the electric Blazer and electric Equinox SUV, which GM said are priced at $30,000 about half the price of a Model Y Sowers expects the Blazer’s price to start at $36,000.

“It’s interesting to me because I’m in the Midwest, definitely not the early adopter of anything. But I’ll tell you that I think people are excited not just about the Blazer, but about the Equinox,” Sowers said.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra is aiming to deliver 400,000 new electric vehicles in North America in 2022 and 2023. Successful launches of the Blazer and Equinox will be critical to achieving this goal.

So far this year, GM is lagging not only Tesla but also Ford and Hyundai in the US electric vehicle market. GM’s best-selling electric vehicle, the Chevy Bolt, was out of production for months due to a battery recall. Production of newer EV models including the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac Lyriq, and Chevrolet Silverado electric pickup have just begun.

GM’s decision to promote the electric Blazer this far ahead of its launch could help Chevy dealerships “keep the buzz going” as Ford and other brands boost sales of new electric vehicles they have today, said Chevy dealers.

“This is to keep interest in the EV space related to the Chevy brand as we’re really stuck with a vehicle that we can’t really sell with the Bolt EV,” said Steve Hurley, managing partner at Stingray Chevrolet in Plant City , Florida, east of Tampa.

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Reporting by Joe White and Ben Klayman in Detroit Editing by Nick Zieminski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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