GM Targets 2035 for Full EV Shift, CEO Emphasizes Consumer-Led Approach

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GM Targets 2035 for Full EV Shift, CEO Emphasizes Consumer-Led Approach

General Motors is under pressure to significantly increase the production of its Ultium-based electric vehicles (EVs), including notable models like the Cadillac Lyriq, Chevrolet Equinox EV, and GMC Hummer EV. This urgency was highlighted by GM’s CEO Mary Barra during a recent Wolfe Research investor conference, as reported by Automotive News. The challenge, as noted by Barra, is to balance the push for more EVs with actual consumer demand—a strategy previously echoed by Toyota, presenting a complex dilemma.

Following a less-than-expected EV production output in 2023, Barra emphasized that 2024 is pivotal for the Detroit-based automaker, labeling it as “the year of execution.” The company, known for the now-discontinued Chevy Bolt EV and the high-end Cadillac Celestiq, is tasked with boosting production numbers and reducing vehicle prices.

Barra’s statement at the conference highlighted a dual focus: proving GM’s capability to manufacture Ultium-based vehicles that meet market demand and financial targets. However, she also noted, “Even though we’ve said by 2035 our light-duty portfolio will be all-EV, we’ll be guided by the consumer,” indicating a flexible approach to the company’s EV transition based on consumer preferences.

Toyota North America’s sales chief, Jack Hollis, recently shared insights that mirror the challenges and decisions facing automakers like General Motors. According to Hollis, feedback from dealers indicates that consumers are seeking a variety of powertrain options. They desire electric vehicles (EVs) among a broader selection that includes plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells, and even traditional gasoline engines with cleaner fuel alternatives. This perspective, offered by Toyota’s executive vice president of sales at the start of February, suggests a preference for diversity over a singular focus on electric vehicles.

Toyota has notably been cautious about fully committing to an electric-only lineup, opting instead for a diversified strategy. This approach includes continuing investment in hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel-cell technology, and the development of advanced EVs. As the growth in the EV market begins to plateau, Toyota’s strategy appears advantageous, allowing the company to utilize the substantial revenue from hybrid sales to invest in the future of electric mobility.

This strategy, which balances current consumer demand with future innovation, may offer valuable insights for GM’s leadership. As GM aims to increase its production of Ultium-based EVs, the broader industry movement towards offering a range of powertrain technologies could inform its approach to meeting market demands and navigating the transition to electric mobility.

General Motors recently revealed a strategic pivot towards enhancing its plug-in hybrid vehicle offerings, alongside continuing its commitment to electric vehicles (EVs). This adjustment comes as the automotive industry faces stricter emissions regulations and EV sales have not met initial expectations. Despite this, GM CEO Mary Barra reassured stakeholders of the company’s dedication to electric vehicles, predicting a gradual rise in adoption rates.

For the current year, GM has set ambitious production targets for its Ultium-based EVs, aiming to manufacture between 200,000 and 300,000 units across its Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac brands in North America. This goal marks a significant increase from just under 76,000 EVs delivered in the U.S. last year, predominantly from the Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, which have since been discontinued.

This move signifies a challenging yet crucial period for GM as it seeks to triple its EV deliveries without the backbone of its previous mainstay models. The industry and consumers alike are watching closely to see if GM can achieve this substantial growth in the evolving automotive landscape.

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