Why spend $20 billion when you can spend $35 billion?
By Gary S. Vasilash
Yesterday General Motors announced that spending $20 billion between 2020 and 2025 on electric and autonomous vehicular tech, as it said it had intended to in March 2020, isn’t enough.
It announced that spending $27 billion during the same period, as it said it had intended to in November 2020, just doesn’t cut it.
So now GM says that it will spend $35 billion by 2025.
In other word, a 75% increase in spend from what it originally intended just 15 months ago.
Said Mary Barra, GM chair and CEO: “We are investing aggressively in a comprehensive and highly integrated plan to make sure that GM leads in all aspects of the transformation to a more sustainable future.
“GM is targeting annual global EV sales of more than 1 million by 2025, and we are increasing our investment to scale faster because we see momentum building in the United States for electrification, along with customer demand for our product portfolio.”
The Bolt EV is presently the GM electric vehicle. In the first quarter GM sold 9,025 of the compact electric vehicles.
Yes, that is a 53.7% increase over Q1 2020, but that was Q1 2020.
The increase in Corvette sales Q1 to Q1 was 73.1%. While only 6,611 of those vehicles were delivered, odds are GM makes more on each Corvette than Bolt.
GM does have more EVs coming, like the HUMMER EV pickup and the Cadillac LYRIQ crossover. And there will be an electric Silverado and other vehicles to boot.
GM will be building two EVs for Honda, one for Honda brand and one for Acura. And it is supplying Navistar with its HYDROTEC hydrogen power fuel cells for heavy trucks that are to be launched in 2024.
And while it doesn’t get a whole lot of attention compared to EVs, Cruise is continuing its efforts to achieve higher levels of autonomy. It has been given the go-ahead to provide a public service sans driver in California. It has been named the exclusive autonomous rideshare provider in the city of Dubai. It will be receiving Cruise Origin vehicles—jointly developed by GM and Honda, and scheduled for production in GM’s Factory ZERO Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center in 2023.
No question that GM is making a huge commitment.
Here’s something that needs to be taken into account. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, as of approximately right now there are 42,664 charging stations in the U.S. and 103,654 charging outlets available to the public.
People who live, say, in southeast Michigan tend to travel up I-75 to northwest Michigan every holiday in numbers that make a chain out of the vehicles, trailers, boats, etc. Somehow, unless there is access to chargers that are going to allow recharges in minutes, not large fractions of an hour (or more), it is going to take one EV-intensive holiday weekend to have some exceedingly sour people.
When people are used to spending a quick time at a gas station, sitting in a long line waiting for access to a plug may have a big effect on the overall acceptance of EVs.