GM Promises Two New EVs in 18 Months, Plans All-Electric Future

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra recently said the Detroit automaker sees a future of not just zero emissions, but also zero crashes and zero traffic congestion.

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

October 2, 2017

3 Min Read
Chevy Bolt to inform next batch of GM EVs
Chevy Bolt to inform next batch of GM EVs.

General Motors plans two all-new electric vehicles for release in the next 18 months, the first of at least 20 EVs the automaker will launch by 2023 as part of its vision for a zero-emissions future.

“General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” says Mark Reuss, executive vice president-GM Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.

“Although that future won't happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of (EVs) through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers needs,” Reuss says in a statement.

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra recently said the Detroit automaker sees a future of not just zero emissions, but also zero crashes and zero traffic congestion underpinned by autonomous vehicles.

GM’s sole EV offering is the Chevrolet Bolt with a range of 238 miles (383 km), and the automaker says it will use learnings from the 10-month-old car as the basis for the two new EVs. It also sells two plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles in the Chevy Volt and Cadillac CT6 Plug In, which provide 53 miles (85 km) and 31 miles (50 km) of range, respectively, before relying on an internal-combustion engine for the remainder of travel.

GM declines to comment on which brands will receive the technology or where the cars will be built, but a forecast from WardsAuto and its partner AutoForecastSolutions expects the first EV will be an autonomous Bolt for the automaker’s partnership with the ride-hailing service Lyft in early 2018. The second EV is expected to be derived off the Bolt platform for the Buick brand in 2019.

The automaker also will not say when the EVs will be revealed publicly, although upcoming international auto shows in Los Angeles, Detroit and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas would be among the likely venues. GM unveiled the Bolt at CES in 2016.

EVs remain just a sliver of U.S. sales and demand largely is regulatory-driven, but GM expects mainstream adoption of the cars soon.

“We are near the tipping point,” Bolt Product Manager Darin Gesse told WardsAuto last month.

However, GM stops short of declaring exactly when its entire portfolio will incorporate electrification, as brands such as Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover have recently.

In making the announcement, GM cautions battery-powered EVs will not be the sole path to zero emissions. It expects hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to also play a role and reveals it has developed a 4-wheel-steer FCEV concept built on a heavy-duty truck frame. Called SURUS, or Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure, it is powered by two electric motors and GM thinks it could be used as a future delivery vehicle, truck or even an ambulance.

GM does not say when SURUS might make its public debut, but the trio of upcoming shows surely would be in the mix.

GM’s latest-generation FCEV technology powers a demonstration vehicle under testing by the U.S. Army, while earlier this year the automaker deepened its development ties with Honda  through an $85 million joint fuel-cell manufacturing investment planned for Southeast Michigan.

As recently as last year, GM said FCEV technology was progressing too quickly for production. In other words, technological breakthroughs are occurring at a pace where an FCEV would be outdated before it hit the market.

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