General Motors
The Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray is GM’s newest hybrid vehicle.

GM CEO Remains Committed to EV Transition

April 4, 2024
General Motors’ Mary Barra is indicating that consumers’ hesitancy to make the switch to battery-electric vehicles may be addressed with plug-in hybrid options.

General Motors Corp. will not moderate its drive to transition its portfolio fully toward electric vehicles by 2035, according to chief executive Mary Berra’s statements in a wide-ranging interview. That pledge counters the moderating approach now indicated by some other automakers, in light of consumers’ increasing resistance to EVs.

"We still believe in an all-electric future," Barra reaffirmed to Yahoo News. The automaker has committed $35 billion of investments (2020-2025) for new and updated capabilities to make the transition, including its participation in the development of the Ultium lithium-ion battery technology platform.

But GM began to reset expectations in January when it raised the prospect of more hybrid electric vehicle offerings, and again in a February outlook statement noting that its EV profitability will be “variable” in 2024 before achieving profitability in 2025.

Total U.S. vehicle sales have been encouraging in 2024, with close to 3.8 million vehicles sold in Q1, up almost 5.0% year-over-year for January through March. But, within that result is a slower rise in EV sales – up only 2.7% year-over-year, on much smaller volumes.

GM’s Q1 sales fell -1.5% year-over-year.

Rival Ford Motor Co. posted stronger EV sales in Q1, up 148% over Q1 2023, though it has implemented a major cut in EV prices and it is steering its portfolio toward more economy EV models. Recently, Ford cut production by 66% for its best-selling EV, the F-150 Lightning pickup.

Stellantis has also made an expensive commitment to electric vehicles, but its CEO Carlos Tavares has been among the most cautious about the pace and effectiveness of the transition from ICE vehicles. In a conference this week Tavares said automakers must cut the weight of EV batteries in half during the decade ahead in order for the full electrification to be environmentally meaningful, and he added that such a development is possible.

Barra now indicates that that GM’s transition away from internal combustion engines will rely more on hybrid-electric vehicles, starting with the new Corvette E-ray vehicle this year, the automaker’s only hybrid model offered in the U.S.

Hybrid vehicle technology would presumably counter doubts about EV range, charging infrastructures, and insurance costs expressed by buyers of midrange and luxury vehicles. Economy-class EVs continue to sell well, though GM has fewer of those products.

GM offered the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt more than a decade ago, but that model was discontinued in 2019.

In late January, Barra signaled that the plug-in hybrid approach will be revisited, but specific details have not been released. “Let me be clear, GM remains committed to eliminating tailpipe emissions from our light-duty vehicles by 2035 but, in the interim, deploying plug-in technology in strategic segments will deliver some of the environment or environmental benefits of EVs as the nation continues to build this charging infrastructure,” she said during GM’s 2023 earnings call.

GM’s investments already have resulted in several EV models, and more will be introduced this year as it rolls out the Chevy Silverado EV, GMC Sierra EV, Chevy Equinox EV, Cadillac Escalade IQ, and Cadillac Celestiq.

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