General Motors debuted a new logo meant to convey the automaker’s renewed commitment to the production and sale of electric vehicles. The company is also launching a new marketing campaign to underscore that commitment, as it seeks to compete with Tesla and other automakers that are rushing new EVs to market.

It’s been about a decade since GM has last tweaked its logo, but this update represents the starkest change in the company’s 113-year history. The most obvious change is the use of a lowercase “gm” in the logo, after previously only using capital letters. The underline has been shortened to just the “m,” in a nod to the company’s recently announced Ultium electric vehicle battery and platform.

The blue square has been rounded at the corners, giving the logo more of a smartphone app appearance. The blue is used as an outline rather than to fill the entire square, and the negative space in the “m” is meant to evoke the shape of an electrical plug.

“This is only the fifth logo change in 113 years,” said Deborah Wahl, chief marketing officer of GM, in a briefing with reporters Friday. “And probably the most progressive thing that we’ve done since 1964.”

“This is only the fifth logo change in 113 years”

A new marketing campaign will punctuate GM’s shift to electric vehicles. Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell has been tapped as a spokesperson for the automaker.

As an umbrella company for a family of auto brands, GM’s logo isn’t as recognizable as some of its rivals like Ford or Tesla. For example, the new logo won’t appear on any of its new EVs, from the Cadillac Lyriq to the GMC Hummer EV. As such, the new marketing campaign is intended to push the message of the company’s overall commitment to electrification rather than sell any one vehicle.

GM has been loudly trumpeting its multibillion-dollar pivot to electrification for months now, while keeping an eye on the meteoric rise of Tesla’s stock price. On Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk saw his own net worth surpass Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, making him the richest man in the world. And today, for the first time, Tesla’s stock value eclipsed the combined values of GM and Ford.

GM has been trying to convince investors of its own commitment to electric vehicles. The company recently committed to spending $27 billion on electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025 — up from the $20 billion it announced before the COVID-19 pandemic. GM has also said it will launch 30 new electric vehicles around the world, more than two-thirds of which will be available in North America.

GM unveiled two new EVs in 2020: the Cadillac Lyriq SUV, expected to go into production in late 2022, and the GMC Hummer EV, slated for late 2021. But the auto giant has been criticized for bringing vehicles to market too late, while other automakers are racing to get their EVs to customers much sooner.

Up next will be two new versions of the Chevy Bolt, the automaker’s mass-market electric car that has been on sale since 2017. A refreshed Bolt and a larger Bolt Electric Utility Vehicle were first announced at the automaker’s “EV Day” earlier this year and are expected to enter production in summer 2021. GM has also said it would release an electric Chevy pickup truck with 400 miles of range.

The new ad campaign, relying on Gladwell and a bevy of actors to proclaim the “inclusiveness” of electric cars, is a far cry from GM’s first commercial for an electric vehicle in 1995. The ill-fated EV1 was the automaker’s first battery-powered vehicle, but was later killed off in a series of corporate decisions documented in the film Who Killed the Electric Car?

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