Faced with too little demand for its electric vehicles, GM is turning around by announcing the return of plug-in hybrid models in North America. Enough to achieve its emissions objectives, and be ready for anything depending on the result of the presidential election in November.
In 2019, General Motors confirmed its intention to develop a wide range of electric vehicles, going so far as to make Buick and Cadillac brands without thermal models by 2030. Since then, numerous models have been presented and are starting to arrive in concessions. But demand doesn’t seem to be taking off as expected for the Silverado, Sierra, Equinox or Blazer EV. GM nevertheless remains confident in its ambition to be profitable on the production of its electric models in 2024, but must face another problem.
Current regulations impose an average consumption and emissions for vehicles sold. With lower than expected electric volumes, it becomes difficult to comply with these CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) rules. On the occasion of the presentation of the financial results, very good indeed, Mary Barra therefore confirmed the upcoming launch of plug-in hybrid models, without calling into question its ambition of a zero-emission range for the entire group in 2035.
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An about-face, since she declared in 2019 about hybrids: “PThe sooner you reach our goal of zero emissions, the better, and electric vehicles will get you there faster. So why spend a lot of capital and engineering on a segment that doesn’t get you to the endgame when we know how to get to the endgame”.
This choice can also be seen as a plan B in relation to the result of the American presidential election next November. A second term for Joe Biden would be beneficial to the continued development of electricity. On the other hand, a return of Donald Trump as tenant of the White House would put a stop to any favorable policy for four years.
We still do not know which models will benefit from the arrival of PHEV engines, and especially in what time frame. GM has clearly abandoned the development of this technology for several years. Its American range no longer includes any models, and only the Chinese Buick Velite 6 still offers a plug-in hybrid version.
GM could also turn to its partner SAIC to speed things up… The Chinese group indeed offers several plug-in hybrid vehicles under its brands MG, Roewe, Maxus…
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