General Motors might not be ready to put traditional internal-combustion vehicles on notice, as some automakers effectively have done, but it is announcing a major commitment to electric vehicles. Over the next 18 months, GM will introduce two new all-electric vehicles that it said are “based off learnings from the Chevrolet Bolt EV.” And those will be the first two of at least 20 EVs to be launched by 2023, the company announced.
In the remarkably terse press release accompanying the announcement, there is no further timeline and there are no market specifics. GM spokesman Kevin Kelly clarified that this is a global plan—potentially meaning that some of the electric vehicles won’t be U.S.-market offerings. A bulk of the effort may be aimed at the China market, which set some especially strong rules last month requiring a certain percentage of fully electric vehicles.
The automaker outlined that it plans to take a two-pronged approach to electrification—meaning that batteries or fuel cells could power its EVs. It teased a wide range of electric vehicles currently in development, including several utility vehicles—all under cover—although it did give a closer look at what it called the SURUS (Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure), an electric vehicle riding on a heavy-duty truck frame and powered by a fuel-cell stack.
Earlier this year, Ford laid out plans to introduce 13 electrified models by 2020; among them are some hybrids and plug-in hybrids—likeFord Mustang and F-150 hybrid versions and plug-in hybrid SUVs—as well as fully electric cars developed by a new Team Edison projectwithin the company.
If it sounds as if the seas have parted and all of the old guard in Detroit is now on board with electric cars, there is one definite holdout. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, in recent remarks to Bloomberg, made it clear he remains pessimistic about EVs as viable and profitable in the near term. Building EVs profitably, however, could prove the key to succeeding, as they are expected to become the majority of the new-vehicle market by 2040.