GM’s SURUS: A Modular Electric Truck Platform (and We Do Mean “Platform”)

For decades, automotive design has been limited by the components necessary to make the car run. The interior and exterior forms we can create evolve as the mechanics evolve. As our tool correspondent David Frane pointed out in his write-up on the Bollinger B1, “Traditional [vehicle] design flies out the window when you don’t have to accommodate a transmission and engine.” That’s how you get a truck with the B1’s cool pass-through:

General Motors’ design team, too, is embracing what’s possible with electric motors with their SURUS concept. The Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure, as it’s known, is the most minimal example we’ve seen of a heavy-duty truck.

Meant to serve as a modular underpinning for end users who need to haul things, the SURUS is basically a quartet of wheel units, each with its own motor and each able to independently steer. Bound together by a chassis, the platform is intended to be equipped with self-driving software and can support a variety of form factors, depending on what the end user desires:

As we hurtle towards the future, I will say that the driver cab add-on looks positively passé.