Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

US Auto Makers Step Up Plans for Electric Vehicles

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Mae Harvey | 03 October, 2017, 07:16

The all-electric and fuel cell vehicles represent a "two-pronged" approach to the automaker's vision of an autonomous, zero-emission future that was recently announced by GM CEO Mary Barra.

"General Motors believes in an all-electric future", said Mark Reuss, the executive vice president who oversees purchasing and supply chain operations, as well as product development. "Although that future won't happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles".

But compared to its competitors, GM's announcement was slightly more tame, committing to nearly two dozen new all-electric vehicles while steering clear of a much grander promise of across-the-board electrification.

GM finished 2016 as the world's third-largest auto-seller, breaking previous company records with 10 million vehicles sold, the company said in a news release. But GM plans to have introduced 20 new electric models between now and 2023.

GM officials showed reporters fully built prototypes of three electric vehicles, including an SUV, a wagon and a podlike micro bus. Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi announced it would launch 12 new all-electric vehicles by 2022.

There still isn't a set timeframe for an all-electric portfolio of products, and the company expects to continue making cars and trucks powered by gasoline engines for an indefinite period of time.

The BEV and fuel cell announcement is a clear shot at electric vehicle upstart Tesla, which posted a net loss of almost $675 million a year ago, and has yet to earn an annual net profit. Reuss said GM is pursuing a two-prong strategy in developing both battery and fuel cell powered electric vehicles. GM has already said that it expects to launch 10 electrified vehicles in China by 2020.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

This was confirmed earlier today by the company at a press conference in Detroit.

Given customers' various needs, getting to a zero emissions future will require more than just battery electric technology.

GM has set up a joint venture with Honda (NYSE: HMC) to mass-produce fuel cells at a facility in MI. For instance, while battery electric is one strategy, as per the Bolt EV, GM is also looking to hydrogen fuel cells.

GM introduced its first long-range EV, the Chevy Bolt, in December 2015. A future with more electric cars would be a future with a declining market share for oil.

But with governments from China to California considering stiff regulations to encourage the production of emissions-free vehicles, GM is responding with big promises to shift its business more toward cars propelled by batteries and fuel cells.

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