Legacy automakers have been producing quality EVs for years, but have shown little interest in actually selling them. That attitude seems to be changing, at least at GM, which has been advertising its new Chevy Bolt in mainstream print media.
Now GM says it plans to launch a new family of EVs in 2021 that will actually earn money for the company. “We are committed to a future electric vehicle portfolio that will be profitable,” CEO Mary Barra told investors at the recent Barclays Global Automotive Conference.
GM will develop a new EV platform that will accommodate multiple sizes and segments, to be sold by different GM brands in the US and China, Barra said. She added that GM aims to be selling a million plug-in vehicles per year by 2026, many of them in China. GM’s China chief recently said the automaker and its joint-venture partners will be able to meet the country’s 2019 EV mandates without purchasing credits from other companies.
Of course, the reason automakers struggle to make a profit on EVs is high battery costs. GM hopes to develop a new battery system that will bring costs down by over 30 percent. By 2021, the company aims to cut costs from the current $145 per kWh to less than $100 per kWh, at the same time increasing the range of its vehicles to over 300 miles.
GM plans to build at least 9 models on the new 2021 EV platform, Barra said, including a compact crossover, a large luxury SUV and a commercial van. Meanwhile, the company will introduce 3 new EVs by 2020, including two crossovers, that will share basic components with the Bolt.
EV boosters have long dreamed of what could be accomplished if a major automaker unleashed its full resources on electrification. We may be about to find out. “We are not capital-constrained in our EV or [autonomous vehicle] development,” said Barra.