General Motors made quite a stir back in January when they announced their future electric vehicle plans. More specifically, the automaker proclaimed that they intend to produce exclusively zero-emission passenger vehicles by 2035, before going carbon neutral in 2040. There is a bit more nuance related to this plan than many people initially understood, but the dates made headlines nonetheless. That is to be expected when America’s largest automaker makes such a directional change to their business model. That said, a new report from Automotive News suggests that GM’s 2035 figure is more of an EV-related goal than a firm stance. Here is what you need to know about this change in tone from GM.
The news comes by way of GM North America chief Steve Carlisle, who spoke with the publication regarding the industry wide electric vehicle push. Carlisle specifically told the publication that the 2035 date for zero-emission vehicles is a target, and not a promise. This is a bit different from what GM’s current marketing strategy would likely lead you to believe.
Carlisle told the publication that the company intends to “win wherever we’re competing and irrespective of propulsion system,” while the company is simultaneously “setting ourselves up for this pivot, which is inevitable.”
Carlisle did go on to say that General Motors does believe that EVs are the future, but that market demand is going to play a key role in how this all shakes out. He noted that GM will not let their business operations take a hit in order to keep in line with this 2035 timeline. If customers still want gas-powered cars, that is what they will build. That said, the automaker is investing heavily in electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle development. Through 2025 GM will invest some $27 billion towards developing these zero emission vehicles, significantly outweighing their investment in traditional ICE-powered vehicles.
“We’re all-in, but we need other people to join us,” Carlisle said.
With 30 new electric vehicles slated to hit the global lineup before 2025, this is a fair assessment from the executive. That said, GM is aware that there are going to be challenges ahead, specifically as it relates to the infrastructure issues. The automaker currently has 17 commercial and technical initiatives in place to accelerate EV adoption, including a partnership with EVgo that aims at getting more chargers out there. General Motors is also lobbying in Washington D.C. to see similar measures to be put in place, mirroring President Biden’s own hopes.
General Motors is a powerful entity in the automotive industry, but they are a business nonetheless. While they need to plan for the new regulations that are being put in place around the globe, they aren’t ready to entirely swear off the gasoline engine quite yet. This isn’t much of a surprise, although it certainly goes against the image they are trying to put out there. A company doesn’t simply change their decades-old logo for no good reason. Regardless, it will be interesting to see whether or not GM is able to meet their 2035 deadline, or if U.S. buyers will demand something else entirely.