The automaker posted an edited Rivian R1T image with a GMC Sierra EV overlay.
General Motors has come under fire after an image posted to the GM Design Instagram page sparked outrage amongst users. Why? Well, the seemingly innocent rendering of the new GMC Sierra EV (seen below) is based on an earlier image of the Rivian R1T, with details such as the background, the vehicle's rear window, the side mirrors, and the wheels remaining unchanged.
The since-deleted Instagram post intended to show off an early design of the new electric truck, with a caption describing the image as a "beautiful sketch" by several designers. Twitter user @allcarnews picked up the similarities, writing, "did they really think no one would notice the GMC Sierra photoshopped on top of a Rivian R1T? It's so obvious."
While it's clear to see this rendering is from the early stages of the lengthy design process, the problem here is that GM decided to post this on a public forum. A GMC company official expressed regret over the incident and told The Drive it was never supposed to be posted on social media platforms.
"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."
Of course, this doesn't amount to intellectual property theft, but it's not a great look for General Motors. An embarrassing event like this detracts from the newly-introduced electric truck itself and, to make matters worse, the render was based upon an image of a fierce rival. But that's not the problem. As mentioned, the real issue is that the image was published for online users to see.
It's entirely possible that designers used the original picture to mock up the initial exterior looks for the GMC Sierra EV. It's a time-consuming process to create an early render from scratch, so it's likely that a designer used the Rivian image as a foundation, for a quick digital simulation.
General Motors often takes to Instagram to share early designs of new vehicles, and give fans insight into what could have been. However, the images that are posted are normally from well into the design process and, therefore, entirely original.
Hopefully, this unfortunate incident won't prevent the automaker from teasing exciting new designs and sharing sneak peeks into the design processes of various vehicles. At least GM hasn't been accused of outright copying, something Chinese manufacturers are famous for. The most recent (and amusing) rip-off comes from Sino Vehicle Hub, and its newly-released Tundar - a blatant and bizarre copy of the new Toyota Tundra.