By on November 14, 2012

General Motors is looking to sell 500,000 vehicles with electrification technology by 2017, but the bulk of its focus will be on EVs or plug-in cars rather than conventional hybrids.

While hybrid technology is considered “important” to GM, product chief Mary Barra told Automotive News that “…we think plug-in technology will play an increasingly important role over the years to come.”

GM will hedge their bets on plug-in vehicles with their eAssist mild hybrid system. Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Spark EV and Cadillac ELR will both launch next year as part of GM’s push to meet 500,000 electrified cars annually, which will account for roughly 6 percent of the 9 million vehicles sold by GM each year.

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63 Comments on “GM Wants To Build 500,000 Electrified Vehicles Annually By 2017...”


  • avatar
    BigMeats

    Would they make greenie promises like this if Barry had lost?
    And does this just include GM’s domestic sales or global?

    • 0 avatar
      WRohrl

      The election is over, Obama won, and he can’t run again so GM can say whatever they want and it won’t affect Obama…So I’m not sure I understand your first point?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      They’ve made too big of an investment in Volt and its technology to shelve it, in order to keep going on business as usual. If they are going to beat Toyota and Volkswagen in China, they will have to offer a serious EV… I doubt RenCen even has N.A and Europe on the radar with regard to their future plans. GM will become de-facto China Motors sometime in the next decade.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @28-Cars-Later: GM makes most of their money in NA. It likely will continue to be the most important and lucrative market in the world, by far, for years.

        Volt’s sales here, 19,309 YTD, are nearly quadruple last year’s and ahead of any other plug-in EV. Leaf’s sales are falling, down to only 6,791 YTD. Total Leaf sales in NA to date are only 16,484, while there are 27,306 Volts on the road here. If Volt’s growth trend continues,as the technology is rolled out to more models and markets, 1/2 Million a year is not really such a stretch.

      • 0 avatar
        rmwill

        As my marketing professor often said “Any idiot can cut prices and chase sales” A neighbor just leased a Volt for 275/month. He had, and still has no real interest in the EV or Green attributes, but only leased it because it was the same price as a Cruze and had more features.

        I am not at all clear how giving away Volts to customers like these actually helps GM attain revenue from the massive investment in the Volt technology.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        @rmwill: THey probably figure a 50% loss is better than a 100% loss. Might as well collect something rather than have the car it on a lot or shutter the factory.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “A neighbor just leased a Volt for 275/month. He had, and still has no real interest in the EV or Green attributes, but only leased it because it was the same price as a Cruze and had more features.”

        When his lease is up, it’s highly likely that your neighbor will have come to enjoy the infrequency in which he fills up the tank. And if the car was built reasonably well, he will probably be highly likely to lean strongly toward another plug-in or EV vehicle.

        If GM is truly confident in the Voltec platform, the lease promotion is not a bad idea at all.

      • 0 avatar
        rmwill

        That was the logic that GM used to justify building more vehicles than the market demanded, and that is the key reason that they entered bankruptcy.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Bear in mind, Volt is an exceedingly tiny share of GM’s production. “Playing games” with residual values on Volt thus has insignificant impact on GM’s bottom line.

        Everyone has their theory as to why GM overbuilt and discounted to generate volume. Most don’t appreciate the real dynamic. There is not doubt that it hurt brand equity, but the driver was labor cost. GM’s labor contract forced them to pay virtually the same labor costs whether the workers were building cars or laid off. Better to get some revenue by keeping them at work than to lose even more by laying them off and stopping all revenue from the plant. New GM does not have this labor problem with costs and shop rules much more in line with global competitors.

  • avatar
    tatracitroensaab

    it goes without saying this is totally crack pipe, the question is though, why did they say it? What sane person would believe this, and why did GM decide to issue a special statement for this?

    TTAC gets some flack for being “anti GM” but the fact is, how can they not report things like this? How can the second largest auto company in the world be just so baffling and ridiculous at times?

    • 0 avatar
      BigMeats

      “t goes without saying this is totally crack pipe, the question is though, why did they say it?”

      That’s what I meant, but better stated.
      And, would they have made such a statement if a famously green-gullible admin hadn’t kept power.

  • avatar

    Unless you get the Base ready for this to happen, GM is singing in the Wind in my opinion all one has to do is look what happened in New Jersey and New York when “Sandy” hit, some people and homes are still without AC to power there homes and business and another thing will future Govenments still will be giving Tax payers Money to these Companies like GM?

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Key phrase is “wants to”. Choosing to ignore the best bet, a full gas/electric hybrid, and focusing on what the market doesn’t want, EV’s and mild hybrids is doomed to failure. And I’m a GM fan.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    What is so outlandish about this?

    This year, the auto industry will sell over a half-million alt-fuel vehicles (if you include clean diesels). GM’s own Volt is ramping up sales month after month, and the Volt is SUCH an awful car that other automakers are scrambling to put their own plug-in hybrids on the road.

    In five years, the cost of batteries, plus scales of economy, should bring the cost of plug-in hybrids down to a level where they are on par with premium option packages.

    Also keep in mind that many of GM’s base model vehicles, including the Malibu Eco, and almost every Buick product, include the mild-hybrid eAssist system. These are big volume vehicles, and by 2017 I imagine hybrid technology will become standard on many more vehicles across all automakers.

    Makes perfect sense to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      The cost of batteries is already getting pretty reasonable.

      If you look at total cost of ownership over a decade, its hard to beat a Prius C. You can, but only by buying a real penalty box, as the 50 MPG vs 35 will probably save $3.5K over 100K miles.

      A plug-in C-max, after you take the federal tax credit of <$4K, is effectively the same cost as the non-plug in version, but with a ~20 mile electric-only range. So apart from losing 5 cubic feed of storage (and the fully flat load floor), there is no reason not to get the plug-in version.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Toyota will sell about a million Priuses(Prii?) this year, doesn’t seem unreasonable for GM to shoot for 500,000 four years from now. The Volt may not be a huge sales success, but the technology and implementation seem to be solid. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that GM managed to introduce a radical new technology without screwing it up.

      Assuming the economy continues to recover, fuel prices will rise, sparking more consumer interest in e-vehicles, and it looks like GM will be a player.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Toyota might sell a million Priuses but it’s beccause they’re fairly reasonably priced for what you get. The Volt is not. This will most likely improve by 2017 but reaching parity is unlikely.

        And the total EV/PHEV market might not expand all that fast. Toyota has a good base in the Prius. They can add battery and move towards GM’s space with a less expensive alternative; that will slow GM’s sales.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Did they say they would sell the 500,000 electrified vehicles in the United States? I don’t see how they think they can go from 500,000 electrified vehicles in the equivalent of one model cycle. Are they counting the mild hybrids?

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    Hmmm,

    I seem to recall a certain other automaker claiming that they were going to sell a bazillion Leafs (Leaves?) per year.

    How’s that working out?

    Refer to the “forward-looking statement” disclaimer that I posted earlier in the Toyota battery article comments.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Worldwide sales figures as of October 31, 2012:

      Nissan has sold 42,700 Leafs.
      Chevy has sold 33,036 Volts.

      I’d say the Leaf is doing well by comparison.

      http://www.plugincars.com/global-nissan-leaf-sales-still-lead-chevy-volt-ampera-125302.html

      • 0 avatar
        carlos.negros

        Rest of the world? What is that? :)

        It all comes down to money. In the end, electric cars will work out to be less expensive than gasoline cars for most people who drive less than 50 miles per day. Not just the cost of fuel, but no need for tune-ups, oil changes, waterpumps, timing belts, exhaust systens, and so on. Those electric motors should last a very long time.

        As soon as there is a way to make the batteries cheaper or more easily maintainable, demand will rise.

        Not to mention, some folks actually believe that carbon is responsible for global warming, and may want to choose to avoid fossil fueled cars.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        Look at the trend. GM sold 16k volts through September of this year in the US. That is more than Nissan sold of the Leaf world wide this year. I don’t see the Leaf holding this lead very long.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    It would be a stretch, but I think this really depends on gas prices, gov’t subsidies, EV adoption.

    But, since it appears that GM is throwing, EV’s, Plugins, and Mild Hybrids into this solution, making 500k annually might be obtainable, but it seems like a big stretch. How many hybrid units a year does Toyota sell currently? Have they broken the 1M units a year yet?

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Or cheap people like me buying them for daily drivers. Traffic engineers in the State/Dominion/Commonwealth of Virgina love their traffic lights.

      http://247wallst.com/2012/11/05/whos-winning-the-race-in-electric-car-sales-tm-f-gm-hmc-tsla/

      Total sales for all of the makers’ electric models, hybrids and plug-ins, year-to-date compared with 2011:

      Toyota – YTD sales of 270,837, up nearly 99% from sales of 136,226 in 2011
      GM – YTD sales of 48,156, up more than 500% from sales of 7,904
      Ford – YTD sales of 20,321, down 9% from sales of 22,113
      Honda – YTD sales of 15,165, down 83% from sales of 27,714

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Y’know you are absolutely right el Scotto, I think in SE Va all it requires to get a light installed is a pulse and the ability to scribble an ”X” on the map where they think you might want it.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    The cynic in me says the GM “electrification” will amount to a high capacity car battery, similar to what Mercedes has done with their S400 hybrid. It’s a quick and legal way to slap “PHEV” onto a wide range of cars, but not really in the spirit of what a PHEV is capable of.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    Wow, the election is over, and you goobers are still whining about Obama? unbelievable.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The whining isn’t nearly as unbelievable as fraud allegations and voter technical claims by both sides, political murals clearly painted illegally in precincts, and militant organizations ‘occupying’ others (ha a pun!).

      But I’ll say the best advice I’ve heard or read by anyone was simply this: “keep stackin’”. In other words, quietly begin stockpiling real goods while you can. You don’t have to be wearing a tin foil hat to see whats happening in our economy and even if Barry is the right man-with-a-plan for the job, things will get worse before/if they get better, at least in the short term.

      • 0 avatar
        JD-Shifty

        still watching Fox news and Glenn Beck I see. pathetic.

      • 0 avatar

        I think what’s happening here has little to do with Obama and a lot to do with a certain Silicon Valley automaker that has had a lot of nice headlines in recent days. And that’s not a bad direction for GM to be moving in.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        For awhile there it was the tin foil hat crowd professing doom and gloom, but just crunch the numbers and ask yourself how were going to reduce a 16+ trillion dollar deficit, the largest in human history.

        The short answer is we don’t and dramatic changes will occur, what those changes could be are open to interpretation. I would rather be prepared than be caught sleeping so to speak.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Silly looking giant wheels aside, this above concept (?) Cadillac is much more pleasing to my eye than the current crop of almost Picasso-esque [and fugly] Cateras. Not perfect but its a significant styling improvement, IMO.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    What I’m hearing is GM wanting to go back for some more gov’t bennies and this is what they figure the gov’t wants to hear.

    It’s the same song as 2008 but the lyrics are a little mushier.

  • avatar

    “GM Wants To Build 500,000 Electrified Vehicles Annually By 2017″

    Boy, they must be smoking some good stuff at RenCen. The only way they can achieve 500K sales is by making E-Assist standard on all 4 Cyl models like they did with the Lacrosse. Its a low cost option that significantly improves MPG. Lacrosse went from 23 MPG combined (19 City 30 Hwy) to 29 Combined (25 city 36 hwy). It isn’t as good as Ford’s Hybrids or Toyota’s HSD but is cheaper. Economies of scale will take take over with more models offering E-Assist making it cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      ‘Boy, they must be smoking some good stuff at RenCen. The only way they can achieve 500K sales is by making E-Assist standard on all 4 Cyl models like they did with the Lacrosse.’

      That’s exactly what they (and other car companies) will probably do. You act like this is a statement saying the GM expects to sell 500k Volts by 2017. The article states that mild hybrids will be a part of the 500k.

      Stop/Start doesn’t cost that much. It takes away some trunk space..but who really fills up their trunk on a regular basis.

      When the EPA adjusts their testing to better account for stop/start (mild hybrid) technology, the OEMs will get even more credit. Current EPA testing underestimates the benefits.

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      Mild hybrids aren’t inherently bad, but unless you design the car for the system, you end up with a car that doesn’t have competitive trunk space. A sheet metal change could extend the car six inches or so and get back all that room, and it would make the LaCrosse 202 inches long, essentially the same as a Cadillac XTS or a Kia Sedona.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    After they build 200K PHEVs, the $7500 tax credit evaporates and GM will be stuck trying to sell a $40K car that has significant EV range but only 4 seats, very limited cargo room and mediocre Dead Battery Fuel Economy.

    The Volt is not a bad idea… batteries are expensive, hard to refill and bulky. So, GM build a car that “usually” runs as an EV but can be rapidly refueled and used for long-distance trips.

    But the battery that’s in it is still very expensive, heavy and bulky.

    Prices *must* come down to make this concept really saleable and the bulk and weight problem will continue to compromise the car in other ways.

    The C-Max Energi looks like a better compromise, especially if it lives up to its promised Dead Battery Fuel Economy.

    • 0 avatar
      BrianL

      By the time GM builds and sells 200k PHEVs in the US, we will be on the 2nd generation of the vehicle, and might be on the 3rd.

      I don’t think it will have the same price, number of seats, cargo room, or fuel economy numbers.

      The C-Max Energi does looking interesting. But many of the advantages it has are from a smaller battery pack.

      On the EPA side, the non Energi C-Max Hybrid isn’t making the 47 MPG number.

      5 users from 34 to 44 mpg, with an average of 39.1. I am thinking that the Energi is going to come in slightly worse than that.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        the plug-in C-Max Energi will do 43mpg once the battery runs out after 21 miles, per the EPA. The Volt is rated at 37mpg I believe, after the first 40 miles. Ford did a good job, the Energi has a lot of frontal area and a so-so Cd of 0.30

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Building 500k vehicles is one thing. Selling that many is something else entirely. There are vehicles I am less likely to buy than the Volt, but not many.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yeah, GM can ‘want to’, but that doesn’t translate into being able to sell them, even on a global scale. If ‘Electrified Vehicles’ were in demand, EVs and Hybrids would sell a whole more than they do now. And they are only a miniscule part of the automotive landscape. More like toys and novelty vehicles than serious transportation.

      Besides, we’re not going to be running out of oil, gasoline or diesel anytime soon, so the old internal combustion engine will be with us well into the distant future.

      And with natural gas powered vehicles becoming more commercially viable, we’ll see a lot more CNG/LNG vehicles on the road than we will ever see ‘Electrified Vehicles’.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        By ‘miniscule’, are you talking like 5% or 6% of the market? That’s what this article says GM expects to sell.

        500,000 out of 9,000,000 sales. 5.5%.

        More natural gas vehicles on the road than hybrids? Uhh…no.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        We offered several natural gas packages, but they were not well received (i.e. no one wanted to buy one, just like Honda.)

        Honda recognizes the infrastructure problem- inadequate number and availability of refueling stations, but the other big issue is limited range. The CNG tank would have to be much larger than for a gasoline or diesel vehicle to get similar range.

        It would be great if CNG was the future for vehicles, but it is far more likely to be the source of electricity for the EVs. How is Honda’s CNG entry doing again?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dr Olds, the way I see it evolving is as in more commercial vehicles transitioning to dual fuel, i.e. CNG/Diesel, as has been done over the past many decades in Europe, and then a smidgen of passenger vehicles also following suit, as in light duty pickup trucks first, and then SOME passenger cars.

        Hanomag/Henschel, M.A.N. and Volvo in Europe actually had long haulers during the 1970s that could run on CNG, or LPG, or diesel, although actual switching of fuel took about two minutes of manual labor, shutting off valves and throwing a couple of electrical switches in the electrical control panel.

        It is also quite possible to see further development in electricity generation FROM CNG as is now possible with Methane gas or Hydrogen gas, as is demonstrated by BMW and Mercedes in their T&E vehicles.

        All in all, I believe that CNG is a viable source of energy that should be exploited to the max, although general acceptance by the great unwashed masses is not a given. Then again, neither was the acceptance of diesel-powered passenger vehicles, initially.

        I think that future CNG-powered passenger cars will follow the same public-acceptance curve as the diesels did. And if electricity can be successfully and inexpensively derived from CNG-powered electrical generators, that would certainly boost the viability of future battery-storage EVs, like the Volt.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @rmwill- The residual value came from the NADA guide. GM does not set that value, do they?

        @highdesertcat- development of our CNG resources is a great idea. we sure have lots of it here in America.

      • 0 avatar
        rmwill

        @Dr. The car companies finance operations, and independent finance companies that write auto leases set the residual value used to compute lease payments. A good test of true projected residual value would be what a GE Capital (or similar) would lease a Volt for. The value is often manipulated by the carmakers to influence demand. Normally the marketing and sales function subsidizes an increased residual to make the finance operation whole. I believe that the 10K contains an figure that rolls up the lease subsidy for the entire firm, not broken down by model.

        I guess in the defense of an inflated residual for the Volt would be that so few have been sold, early adopter used sale prices would hold for a little while.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @rmwill- I understand that carmakers/lease financiers set a residual value to price leases, and have benefited from lower rates on certain models with artificially inflated residuals.

        The link I included says that NADA Guide shows high residual value, not just GM.

        I do not believe GM, or any carmaker, controls the NADA Guide. It is fair to assume there may not be a lot of experience with resale values of Volts, given the low volumes.

  • avatar
    2012JKU

    The government will keep its stake in GM to ensure this goal happens and those 500k electric vehicles are forced on consumers. If GM fails to sell them the government will help buy them, subsidize them, or bail GM out again.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    “General Motors is looking to sell 500,000 vehicles with electrification technology by 2017″

    I’m looking to bang Jennifer Aniston, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton by 2017.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Here’s the deal. Can GM and every car builder stop saying how many cars they are going to sell. And, can every blog, rag, zine, etc. please stop parroting these utterances. It’s smoke up everyone’s butt, done for the most pathetic of PR reasons (I know, i work in PR). Tell us how cars they actually did sell and then lets analyze why that’s good, bad, interesting and why or why not.

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    I’m not convinced that ‘electrified’ is the most appropriate word…..

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Oh, look! It’s the Cadillac Mach1!
    (Excuse me while I go barf)

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Man, I wish I would have waited before I bought my 2012 Impala. I could have leased a Volt, now that GM offeres a very attractive lease a couple of months later…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I wouldn’t second guess myself too much if I were you. Volt might be the cool new kid on the block, but a loaded Impala isn’t exactly a penalty box.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      GM can offer the low lease rate because the residual value of Volt it very high. “The estimated trade-in value of a 2011 Volt, according to the NADA guide, is $29,325— or 90 percent of its post-incentive $32,780 sticker price.” http://www.plugincars.com/chevrolet-volt-lease-steal-123661.html

      That 3.6L Impala is still a great car! And much roomier, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Dear Doctor Olds:

        Don’t get me wrong, my 2012 Impala LTZ is super, but I wish the fuel economy was a bit better. I average 27 mpg overall, vs 30+ mpg with my old 2004 Impala w/3.4L.

        Now, having said that, I used the old car strictly for commuting, as we still owned the MX5 I used for running around town. After we sold that, the Imp was used and the mpgs did drop to 28.5-29 mpg.

        Still…

      • 0 avatar
        rmwill

        @Dr. Playing games with residual values absent any data to support subsequent used car selling prices is the oldest toxic trick in the auto business. Games like these are a big reason for the death spiral that the D3 rode, and it seems GM has not learned from history. How can GM assume that buyers will pay premium prices in the open market for a car that few are buying without massive incentives? What is old is whats new.

  • avatar

    General Motors certainly can’t depend on those mild hybrids (Chevrolet Malibu Eco; Buick LaCrosse eAssist), nor the exorbitantly priced GMT900 hybrids. But I say it can be done.

    Whether or not there’s any real point, I don’t know. But I do think that Tesla’s recent acclaim finally has Detroit sitting up and taking notice…

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Summer 2013 the Spark EV will be available in CA.


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