General Motors (GM) says it will introduce two new all-electric vehicles in the next 18 months, the first of at least 20 new electric cars it hopes to put on the road by 2023.
Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president of Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, says the company is committed to an all-electric future.
“Although that future won't happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers' needs,” Reuss said.
GM says the first electric cars will be based on what the company has learned from the current Chevrolet Bolt EV. As the program moves ahead, some vehicles will be powered by batteries while others will generate electricity using hydrogen fuel cells.
A more transparent industry
Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book (KBB), finds these kinds of automotive pre- announcements an abrupt departure from the way car companies have traditionally operated.
"In the past, it was all hush-hush until the big reveal at an auto show," Lindland told ConsumerAffairs. "Now, there’s increasing transparency regarding upcoming products and announcements done throughout the calendar. [This is] in part to keep consumers engaged, but also to stay on top of the latest trends and news cycles. This latest event by GM regarding all electric is further proof of a rapidly changing industry, whether the consumer wants it or not."
And to date, there is little evidence the consumer is clamoring for electric cars. One industry source reports 2017 U.S. sales of electric vehicles through August totaled just over 121,000 units.
One reason for the apparent lack of enthusiasm may be the cost. The best-selling electric so far this year is the Tesla Model S, starting at $68,000.
How practical for long trips?
A second issue may be range. The longest range of a current electric vehicle is just over 300 miles, with the typical range around 100 miles between recharges. KBB analyst Akshay Anand notes most automakers are moving toward electric cars and are counting on significant improvements in technology to make them more practical.
The move away from gasoline and diesel-powered internal combustion engine comes at the urging of governments like China, the UK, and France, who have all proposed regulations to ban internal combustion engines in the next few decades. Automakers have taken note.
In July Volvo announced plans to design all of its vehicles with an electric or hybrid engine by 2020. Last month Volkswagen announced a similar move, saying it plans to move to an all-electric line-up by 2030.
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