General Motors Co (GM) is laying the groundwork for a bigger bet on electric vehicles (EV), telling investors at a virtual conference it plans to boost spending on them by more than a third to US$27 billion as part of a push to introduce 30 battery-powered models by 2025.
The initiative outlined on Thursday represents an increased investment of US$7 billion and 10 more EVs than previously planned, including some that would be cheaper than US$35,000.
The announcement comes as rival automakers plan dozens of new all-electric models, which could benefit from EV-friendly policy changes expected under the administration of US president-elect Joe Biden.
BATTERY PRICE CUT
GM aims to cut the manufacturing cost of its Ultium battery pack by 60 percent, enabling EVs to achieve near price parity with gasoline-powered cars by around the middle of the decade, GM executive vice president of global product development Doug Parks said at a Barclays auto conference.
The automaker, which has struggled to sell its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, said its next generation of EVs would appeal to a wider variety of buyers now that Tesla Inc has primed the market for sexier and sportier battery-powered vehicles.
“We don’t want to just participate, we want to lead,” Parks said in a conference call on Thursday with reporters. “Tesla has a good jump. They’re a formidable competitor and there are a lot of startups. We don’t want to cede leadership.”
GM must also keep pace with traditional competitors. Volkswagen AG last week said that it plans to spend about US$86 billion on new technology, with most of it going to electric vehicles.
With its new investment, GM expects to bring some planned vehicles to market faster.
The Cadillac Lyriq crossover SUV is to arrive in early 2022, instead of late that year. The Hummer EV is also to arrive faster than its planned date next fall, but the company did not specify exactly how much earlier.
GM is expediting development of three GMC models (including an EV pickup), four Chevrolet models (including a pickup and compact crossover), four Cadillacs and two Buicks.
Parks would not disclose the timing for the launch of these vehicles.
The electric-pickup market is heating up, with a battery-powered Ford F-150 and Tesla’s Texas-built Cybertruck on the way, as well as competition from start-ups, such as Amazon.com Inc-backed Rivian Automotive Inc.
Parks said the Chevy crossover SUV would be about the size of the current Equinox compact and cost less than US$35,000. That would make it cheaper than the average gasoline-powered vehicle sold today.
GM is already preparing to launch a second generation of the Ultium battery pack co-developed with LG Chem Ltd. that has increased power density.
As a result, GM anticipates a driving range as far as 450 miles (724km) on a single charge.
The automaker plans to break ground next year on a new facility to develop the battery chemistry for the next-generation Ultium, which a spokeswoman said might be located on the grounds of GM’s global technical center in Warren, Michigan, outside Detroit.
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