The rise of electric start-ups have many legacy automakers checking their rear view mirrors as they scramble to join the EV party. Most wouldn't like to admit it publicly, but we know that at least some folks at General Motors are keeping an eye on Rivian.
That's because a recent post on social media account by the General Motors design department appears to have used an image of the Rivian R1T, but heavily photoshopped. The post was intended as a peek of the GMC Sierra Denali EV's rear view. Eagle-eyed observers like AllCarNews soon noticed many familiar elements to the rendering, including the wheels and tires, mirrors and doors. Even the backgrounds are identical, including some leaves that the truck is kicking up.
— Allcarnews (@alllcarnews) October 25, 2022
Seen side by side, the two pickups' similarities don't end there. The Sierra EV is wider, but the cab's rear pillars and glass look the same as the Rivian's, just stretched horizontally. The rear bumper and its license plate cutout and reflectors on either side look a bit too close for comfort as well.
The post as since been deleted. A GM spokesperson explained the situation to The Drive, "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."
Automakers often use products from the competition as benchmarks or design inspiration. Designers sometimes use existing images as a starting point as well, in order to quickly get an idea down "on paper". They just tend to do it in private. A juggernaut like GM using an image from an upstart like Rivian is embarrassing for the General, but surely an ego boost for the EV brand.
When dealing with an up-and-comer, perhaps it's best to take a page from Mad Men's Don Draper. In season four of the advertising drama, a newspaper calls the hot shot exec for a quote, after a young rival publicly says he's gunning for Draper. Draper knows exactly who the reporter is talking about but when asked for comment says, "Never heard of him."