Ahead of a presentation to be delivered with CEO Mary Barra Thursday at Barclays Global Automotive Conference, Doug Parks, GM's executive VP for product development, purchasing, and the supply chain, explained why the company is upping its intended 2020-2025 investment in all aspects of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles to $27 billion, from $20 billion announced last March. The figure is up from the $20 billion the automaker previously planned.
The company's product development chief promised a small electric SUV that will cost less than $30,000 and pledged to roll out 30 battery-powered models worldwide by 2025.
"Climate change is real, and we want to be part of the solution by putting everyone in an electric vehicle", said Barra. "We are transitioning to an all-electric portfolio from a position of strength and we're focused on growth". Finally, there's better integration between vehicles and their battery packs, enabling fewer cells and modules.
Barra indicated that two thirds of those upcoming electric models will be available in North America.
Between Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet and Buick, GM is aiming to have 30 different electric vehicle models that span the spectrum from work to family use by 2025. More importantly, the company announced the first details about the second-generation of Ultium batteries which are expected in the middle of the decade. Does that mean an electric Corvette is in Chevrolet's future?
Ultium batteries will also be easy to service at the module level which will make fix costs less expensive than having to replace the whole pack, according to GM.
They're expected to cost 60% less than batteries in use today, despite having twice the energy density. The second-generation design is due by the middle of the decade. They'll also cost 60% less than current battery packs now in the Chevrolet Bolt electric auto, he said.
The increase in development spending also enables the speeding up of development processes for GM's electric vehicles; the Hummer EV's original development time of 50 months has been shortened to 26 months, and is now the benchmark for the group. As a result, some suppliers tell Autoblog the company is moving up its electrification target dates across the board including for commercial vehicles.
GM also said it was creating an umbrella organization for its electric vehicle and digital marketing efforts called Ultifi.
This flexibility has made it possible to accelerate the development of many of GM's future EVs. Next year, GM will break ground on an all-new Battery Innovation Lab and Manufacturing Technology Center to develop the next-generation Ultium battery chemistry. These companies have attracted enormous interest from investors. "We are resolved as a management team to move even faster to expedite the transition to EVs".
Accounting and consulting firm Deloitte said in a study last summer that global sales of fully electric and plug-in gas-electric hybrid sales passed the 2 million mark a year ago, and were 2.5% of all new vehicle sales.
Instead, Barra emphasized the advantages she sees in integrating internal combustion and electric vehicle businesses, noting that EVs can share up to 70% of the components used in traditional vehicles. There will also be four electric Cadillacs and two electric SUVs for Buick.