GM maps all-electric future with 20 cars by 2023


SOUTHFIELD • General Motors Co (GM) joined a growing group of auto-makers promising an emissions-free future for cars by pledging to sell 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023.

The largest US automaker, which generates most of its profit with large SUVs and pickup trucks, plans to have a line-up of both battery-powered cars and hydrogen fuelcell autos, which also run on electricity. Two new electric vehicles (EVs) will debut in the next 18 months to follow the Chevrolet Bolt that’s been on sale for less than a year.

“GM believes the future is all electric, a world free of automotive emissions,” Mark Reuss, executive VP of global product development, told reporters on Monday at the company’s technical centre north of Detroit. “It’s real.”

The planned line-up demonstrates GM is doubling down on electrification despite the Bolt’s slow start in US showrooms and companies’ inability thus far to profitably sell EVs. The automaker has delivered fewer than 12,000 units of the battery-powered Bolt, which goes about 238 miles between charges. Deliveries have primarily been concentrated thus far in California, which mandates sales of emissions-less vehicles.

Carmakers are rushing to develop electric technology to meet tougher regulations around the globe. Almost 50 new pure electric-car models will come to market globally between now and 2022, including vehicles from Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG. Even British inventor James Dyson, known for his vacuums and fans, is getting into the game, announcing last week that he’s investing £2 billion (RM11.24 billion) to develop an electric car.

GM climbed 3.9% to US$41.95 (RM177.87) as of 12:20pm in New York yesterday, headed for the highest close since its 2010 initial public offering. The shares have climbed on two reports in the past week by Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache, who’s bullish about the prospects for the company’s automated vehicles.

China, GM’s largest market globally, is moving to cap carbon emissions by 2030, which means automakers will need battery-powered vehicles for the market. Under the country’s cap-and-trade policy, automakers must obtain a new-energy vehicle score — linked to the production of various types of zero and low-emission vehicles — of at least 10% starting in 2019, rising to 12% in 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said last week.

GM CEO Mary Barra said last month that GM would have 10 new energy vehicles in China by 2020. Some of those will be electric cars and others will be plug-in hybrids that still burn petrol but gain efficiency by being paired with an electric motor.

Reuss said GM’s electric vehicle programme will be profitable. During the company’s first-quarter earnings call, Barra said GM’s lithium-ion batteries cost about US$145 per kWh to produce and that the automaker is targeting less than US$100.

Batteries are getting cheaper and lighter, Reuss said. Reducing weight is vital because it means the electric drive system doesn’t have to work as hard. That in turn reduces cost as the battery system doesn’t require as much power.

Despite GM’s commitment, Reuss said it’s impossible to predict when all new vehicles will have electric drive in any market. The technology has to improve, the world needs more charging stations and consumers have to accept them, he said. — Bloomberg