GM CEO Mary Barra Says Company Aims to Sell 1 Million EVs a Year

Sebastian Blanco
Photo credit: Chevrolet

From Car and Driver

  • General Motors has been promising major increases in its electric-vehicle lineup, even though the company reportedly loses up to $9000 on every Bolt EV it sells.
  • Now CEO Mary Barra has stated, without giving specifics, that GM will sell a million EVs a year in the near future.
  • An important factor will be the cost of batteries, which has been dropping.

Back in late 2011, then GM CEO Dan Akerson made a bold prediction. He said that GM would build 60,000 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids in 2012. In fact, GM only sold 24,361 Volts in the United States that year, proving that it was awfully difficult to predict sales of plug-in vehicles at the start of the modern EV era.

That history isn’t stopping GM's current CEO, Mary Barra, from making her own bold prediction about her company's EV plans. She didn't say exactly when—other than sometime in the near future—but she told Bloomberg News that she expects GM is going to sell a million electric vehicles a year globally, saying, "This is what we really believe is the future of transportation."

Truth be told, that’s not a good number if GM were to do that with today's realities, since each sale of the all-electric Bolt EV has been said to lose $7000 to $9000. But with decades of battery research under its belt, declining battery costs, and ever more stringent emissions regulations around the world that will make fossil-fuel vehicles more expensive, the cost calculations are changing. The company has developed at least 18 different prototypes ranging from sedans to autonomous vehicles to SUVs and sports cars on the same skateboard-style platform. These could make up the next onslaught of GM EVs. GM president Mark Reuss says that Barra's million-EVs-a-year target will let the company make a profit.

The biggest factor will be the change in the cost of batteries. When the Volt came out in 2010, general estimates had the cost per kilowatt-hour of a pack at more than $1000. Industry analysts now estimate that cost to be around or just under $200 today, with estimates of just $50 per kWh being talked about for 2025. Reuss, cited by Bloomberg, said that once the cost gets to $100 per kWh, that's where GM can make money selling all-electric vehicles. Think back to late 2017, when GM said it would introduce at least 20 new EVs by 2023, and the picture starts to become more clear for how GM can get to a million EVs a year, with a strong focus on sales in China.

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