GM CEO Seems To Question Demand For Electric Cars

Electric Cars


Electric Cars

GM CEO Mary Barra believes we must convince people to adopt electric cars, not mandate them.

GM CEO Mary Barra had to clarify some recent remarks about electric cars to assure that her words were not spun into something negative.

Barra has made it clear on numerous occasions that she supports electric cars and is excited about GM’s electric future. However, she is concerned about demand and believes that it’s important to excite people about the segment, rather than outright mandating it. Sometimes people respond negatively to mandates, and no one really wants to be forced. Barra hopes to be able to work to assure that the transition happens the right way.

The CEO was just honored in Washington for being named Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Woman. She spoke at a conference following the award. Barra’s reference to mandates came when referring to recent talk about China banning gas and diesel vehicles. She shared:

Electric Cars

Mary Barra is an electric car supporter and very excited about the Chevrolet Bolt, however, not unlike other legacy automaker CEOs, she’s skeptical about demand

“Clearly we believe that the Chinese market will have the highest electric vehicles most quickly because of the regulatory environment. I think the point I was trying to make, and it kind of got spun into something a little different, is at the end of the day you still have to make customers happy and you have to fill their needs.

We’ve encouraged the Chinese government to work with us and work with the industry to make sure we’re creating the excitement and demand for electric vehicles as opposed to it just being mandated.”

Barra didn’t say that China’s move — and that of other countries planning similar strategies — has to do with politics. However, she did admit that countries are pushing to support climate regulations, along with creating new jobs and building stronger economies. This is all despite the Trump administration’s decision to back out of the Paris Climate Accord. Barra continued:

“It’s looking at where the future is going and wanting to have a stronghold. Every country wants to look and make sure that they have new technology that’s going to create jobs and create a very strong economy.

I really think it’s part of the solution. I think we’re getting cycles of learning and the experience to make it affordable. I think it’s going to be part of the solution, both from what customers want to drive because we look at what the customer really cares about, but also from a regulatory environment and doing the right thing for the environmental perspective.”

The CEO concluded her talk by speaking to GM’s progress with self-driving cars. She recently experienced the automaker’s new semi-autonomous “Super Cruise” technology. Barra shared:

Chevrolet Bolt

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra with an autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV outfitted by Cruise Automation.

“When I was able to, on the highway, take my hands off the wheels, I still had to pay attention, but you are more relaxed. The system actually watches your face to make sure you’re paying attention, but you are more relaxed. And you’re still engaged in the driving experience.”

Barra admitted that she will likely always have at least one car that is not autonomous. Though she’s excited about self-driving cars, she knows that people also crave the experience of driving. On the other side of the coin, Barra thinks that the only way people will truly commit to and believe in autonomous vehicles is by experiencing them and realizing how much time they will have to multi-task and not have to worry about the work involved in driving. She explained:

“I think they are going to care about the experience. You see it in today’s ride sharing. Ride-hailing passengers have the ability to choose whether they want to carpool or ride unaccompanied in an individual vehicle.

I think it’s going to be the experience, and there’s so much more when you think about it when you’re riding and you can be completely detached from how you’re getting from point A to point B. Giving back that time is going to be key. With connectivity, we’re imagining quite a few things that people will be doing with that time back.”

Source: The Detroit News

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154 Comments on "GM CEO Seems To Question Demand For Electric Cars"

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“Barra didn’t say that China’s move — and that of other countries planning similar strategies — has to do with politics. However, she did admit that countries are pushing to support climate regulations…”

I think environmental activists have really dropped the ball on this whole carbon cap or carbon tax thing. If they had pushed it forward as an anti-pollution measure, supporting clean air, then it wouldn’t have gotten snarled up in partisan politics and the nonsensical false debate over whether or not global warming is “real”, with science deniers being the only ones still refusing to admit what has become so well documented.

I don’t think most reasonable people consider government regulations supporting clean air and clean water to be “politics”. And good for China for pushing ahead with tightening environmental regulations. China has a long way to go to catch up with the USA on clean air, but good to see it’s charging ahead (pun intended) on electric cars!

The Puppeteers have Mary Barra Talking from both sides of her mouth now..

Barra talks a lot, but with a total lack of sincerity. Somehow, she’s got to justify her next bonus.

She earned her position as a trained engineer and manager, her predecessor made a wise choice.

See improved GM profitability and share price.
Bonus earned.

As far as I understood China is already way ahead on green energy with tremendous growth compared to the US which is again making steps backward on a regulatory basis.

Maybe I also got biased by movies such as “Before the flood” or from what Elon Musk is saying. Would have to research more I guess.

As Rachel Maddow says: “Watch what they do, not what they say.”

China is talking up green energy, but what it’s actually doing is far more dirty.

A relevant quote:

…new data on the world’s biggest developers of coal-fired power plants paints a very different picture: China’s energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade.

Full article: “As Beijing Joins Climate Fight, Chinese Companies Build Coal Plants”

Absolutely! But lots of dirty tactics are used by China… not just dirty energy!

“From high-speed trains to wind turbines, China has long prodded American, European and Japanese companies to hand over their know-how in exchange for access to its exciting new market. Then Chinese companies have used that knowledge and lavish government support to take on foreign rivals.

China wants the big players to share their electric car knowledge, too. The foreign automakers face new Chinese regulations that put heavy legal pressure on them to transfer electric-car technology to their local partners. Chinese officials are also set to impose stringent regulations that would force automakers like Volkswagen and G.M. to sell new-energy cars in the country if they want to continue selling the old-fashioned gasoline-powered types as well.”


“The End of Coal Is Near: China Just Scrapped 103 Power Plants”

From the article you linked to:

“For a bit of context, the entire US has approximately 305 GW gigawatts of coal capacity in total…”

“Despite China’s much-publicised pollution problems, the reason for the cancellations is because the country was actually vastly exceeding its planned coal capacity for the future.

Per China’s five-year-plan for its power sector, it’s targeting a coal-fired capacity of 1,100 GW in 2020 – a sizeable increase from its existing 920 GW.

But if all 103 plants in development were to be completed, China’s capacity would reach 1,250 GW, creating a huge, unnecessary surplus of coal power – which is why the Chinese government is putting on the brakes.”

Pushmi’s article mentions those cancellations in the first sentence:

“When China halted plans for more than 100 new coal-fired power plants this year…”

He’s noting the 700 new plants being built or planned by Chinese companies, despite those cancellations.

Anyway, this is a matter of watch and see. China’s coal consumption in recent years has been well below projections. Hopefully that trend continues.

No, china’s coal consumption has not been below projection.
What is going on, is that China is now converting coal->methane. They do NOT count that as coal. The issue is that it actually produces a stream of CO2, along with the CH4, that if the CO2 is buried, then things are good. China does not do that.
If you look at OCO2, you will see that CHina’s emissions are a LOT HIGHER than what is acknowledged by the AGW group. In fact, they are not around 33%, but are over 40% of global CO2 emissions.

Sadly, we needed OCO3 to be able to get the real numbers of in-out of all nations, and Trump/GOP have tabled that.

If you can’t give links to support your claims- they are WORTHLESS. Don’t be so lazy…

“He’s noting the 700 new plants being built or planned by Chinese companies, despite those cancellations.”

Those are built or planned to be built outside of China rather than in China.

That is like Norway banning ICE cars but still sells oil around the world…

Capacity growth does not necessarily mean more coal use. China needs more capacity as its economy has gobs of room to grow, and coal is basically the only non-nuclear option. Wind provides very little guaranteed capacity, even when averaged over a large area.

In recent years, despite capacity growth, China’s consumption has been below projections, and some sources state a decline:

You had me in agreement until you quoted Rachel Maddow…a person for whom politicizing everything is her career.

I’ve been asking folks who love EVs and our environmental wellness to stop debating global climate change and START PROMOTING A CLEAN AIR AGENDA for years now to no avail.

It seems people would rather be right and win an argument than see tangible change to our culture. If you don’t find progress one way, try a different tactic.

No politician is anti clean air. Appearing so would kill their prospects. Thus, ditch the debate over science and adopt a campaign for cleaner air in cities and suburbs for our children to breathe.

Look in awe how well your Republican legislator or candidate responds. Then ask what they are doing about it and Don’t relent on quoting their record on the subject. In other words, Tweet your congressperson and remind them of promises and inaction, or laud their actions…etc..

The science we need to spur change are air quality statistics and health information.

Ironic that you point out this science-denier issue is specific to Republicans. That’s obviously connected to the failure to adopt effective climate policies. It’s not about winning an argument regarding climate change, but it’s a little hard to expect Republicans to adopt policies around climate change when they adamantly deny it.

Please feel free to cite some of this “pro-clean air” legislation you claim Republicans support. From what I’ve seen, they decry it as intrusive government regulation just like anything else.

“No politician is anti clean air.”

By supporting fossil fuels and the ICE, most Republicans and some Democrats are anti-clean air, but obviously they don’t want to admit it.

Then again, we don’t see many Democrats running on a clean air and clean water platform either.

China is building coal plants because it’s a socialist planned economy. They used to have a 5-year plan to build tons of coal power so everyone set about to do so in spades. It then turned out to be a bad idea so they turned the focus to renewable energy but a boat the size of China takes a long time to turn around.

All those coal plants China is “building” has been in the pipeline for a long time. China is trying to stop these projects because they already have way more coal power than they need. China’s coal power is already running below 50% capacity so building more has no other effect than wasting money.

Martin, China talks a good game, but if you walk outdoors in Beijing or in many other areas, you can feel the pollution strike you in the face when the wind blows. Burnt coal cinders actually strike you in the face. When you get home and blow your nose, the kleenex is grey with grit and pollution. The only reliable pollution meter used to be the one on the American Embassy in Beijing, but the staff there agreed not to publish the info on line a few years back. I hope they have reversed that decision.
Americas air and water have both been getting even cleaner this year and last as newer, cheaper to fuel natural gas plants replaces older coal plants, mostly due to fracking. We didn’t mandate this cleaner air, capitalism and innovation brought it here.

“We didn’t mandate this cleaner air, capitalism and innovation brought it here.”

“Clean air act”, enforced on the industry by the US people.

“Dieselgate”, brought to you by Volkwagen.


I was talking about the increasingly clean levels of air in the past 2 or 3 years, not the results of the 1963 CAA and its updates in 1970 and 1990. Those 3 acts did a world of good, and the move to natural gas plants in the past 5 years has also done a lot of good, and it was done due to market driven objectives of using less expensive, lower polluting nat gas over older sources of fuel like coal. And fracking was the one driving the bus. Sometime innovation can trump mandates.

“And fracking was the one driving the bus. ”

Not necessarily. Coal becomes more expensive because it is getting harder to mine coal without the expensive cost of avoid dumping the waste, shipping them or handling the “afermath” of using them. Fracking made NG cheaper is true but NG is already “cheaper” to clean up in general than coal which is what all the EPA rules are doing.

Without those rules, coal can easily come back.

“Not necessarily. Coal becomes more expensive because it is getting harder to mine coal” Coal hit super low prices like 15 dollars a ton, and they still aren’t competitive with NG, or wind. New solar can be less expensive then new coal as well. NG is what knocked them down. The plants are cheaper have fewer operational costs, and cycles faster/better in load following, and everyone tries to blame Obama but it was really the energy plan under Bush that set it up in 2005. The whole RE thing, was a way to see if we -could- get RE competitive in cost, and to put projects that required large powerlines so utilities could cost effectively flatten the grid for roughly 20% more efficiency which was also part of the 2005 plan. Quite literally, most of the coal plant retirements were plants that were already well past their 50 year amortization schedule in other words the 25% efficient plants. The CPP called for the 40% efficient plants to be built (which had been around for 15-20 years) They require far less freshwater to operate as well. Almost no one built them, because they could see the writing on the wall back… Read more »

Yes, however in retrospect all carmakers in Europe cheated.

gads, I hate the fact that both far right AND FAR lefties HATE SCIENCE.

CHina is investing SOME MONEY into AE. Yeah.
They are adding less than 100 GW each year.
BUT, wind/solar will only run at 25% OR LESS of name-plate capacity. IOW, these will be at 25 GW MAXIMUM and under.

However, they are also investing heavily INTO NEW COAL PLANTS. In particular, they are still building 35-50 GW of new coal plants EACH YEAR.
These are running at around 65% capacity.
So, that means 23 GW MINIMUM with the ability to go to 50GW.
And with the EVs, they will be getting their electricity from coal.

Blame the “environmental activists” for the failing to enact environmental policies. How lame.

What you’re saying is pertinent nonsense. Somehow let CO2 ride along on bills to reduce NOx, soot, etc? How is that possible if a simple particle filter or catalytic converter does the job? Oh, and by the way they have been promoting renewable energy to clean up the air and create good jobs. So you’re wrong there too.

You show a stunning capacity of not facing reality as it is: our democracies have been hijacked by big corporations and banks. Our media (under control of big corps too) are feeding us the misinformation that plays into their hand: distrusting the government and scientists. And so got elected that … thing … that is now occupying the White House.

True. The Koch Bros. not virtually but actually buying Republican Politicians. Money before good public policy.

Republicans represent the top 1%, who have a defective greed gene. The Koch’s have the money to Innovate and dominate the Wind and solar industries. But, they’re second generation wealth. They actually too LAZY to be industry leaders.
Better to BUY POLICY with $$$.

Republicans huh? Funny how Hillary spent 5x more money than Trump and most of that came from Wall Street and big business. But I’m sure they didn’t expect any favors in return, just as Saudi Arabia donated millions to the Clinton foundation only because they care so much about equality for women.

It’s funny but I don’t recall Hillary or any democrat advocating gutting the EPA or ending solar/wind tax credits or floating the idea of subsidizing coal plants. Fossil fuel love affair is strictly a conservative thing. Not that the dems are perfect by any means.

Cite localized pollution from highways and thoroughfares.

You focus too much on winning the war and not enough on winning major battles, like cleaning up the effects of exhaust emissions from conventional cars and diesel trucks and buses.

Politicians bought off by the oil and gas industry love to quote how much cleaner cars are today. Fight back with data showing the effects of ever increasing traffic and the effects of diesel particulates on human health.

“If they had pushed it forward as an anti-pollution measure, supporting clean air”
— Both California’s CARB policies and China’s EV quotas are exactly that! They both were instituted to battle air pollution in large cities…

What really matters is that the success of Nissan and Tesla in creating practical electric vehicles that can meet more than 95% of personal vehicle needs has emboldened cities, states and whole nations to propose a ban on polluting internal combustion engines. China’s need to clean the air and avoid fuel imports are driving them to inherent the future of the automobile.

Almost no one care about the environment. Those who truly care would be riding bicycles and fertilizing their food with their own crap like the Unabomber did, which even most hippies of Oregonian hills do not practice.

To depend on environmental concerns for EV adoption is going to fail, just like banning automatic weapons in 1980’s still allowed clever ways to rapid fire guns using bump stocks (or trigger cranks or many other means).

What is needed is kickass EV that’s better than gassers, damn the environment. Bolt is poor due to high price compared to other gassers of similar form. Tesla 3 is decent, though initial quality will be poor. SparkEV was excellent for those who qualified for the tax credit. Unfortunately, people who buy SparkGas typically do not qualify for the tax credit.

How about just cutting our home heating bills by 60% with insulation, and driving an EV. Does that count?

They don’t count. You can cut your home heating by 100% by using residual heat from other activities (eg. go ride a bicycle when it gets cold, and bundle up more). Rather than driving, you can move closer to work so that you don’t need to have a car.

You’re joking, right?

One might think so, but then one would be wrong.

Keep in mind he lives in San Diego.

Not joking. Unabomber did it in Montana for decades, no reason why any of us can’t do it if we truly believe we need to cut emissions. Most people won’t do it, because we value modern luxury over “saving the planet”.

Hungry? Watch the cooking channel, drink more water and then go to sleep!

San Diego Cold = Below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yeah, unfortunately, many of us would question what is the point of one’s life?

What you are proposing is an orthodox fairy tale, I would never prescribed to.

PS: I did tell my employer that there should be a shower at work so I can clean up after my 20km bike ride to work, rain or shine .. I got fired the next day … LOL

“What you are proposing is an orthodox fairy tale”

That’s precisely what “doing something about climate change” is. It is practically impossible as a global effort to cut to the level recommended by IPCC, and personal (or even statewide or countrywide) sacrifices won’t do a damn thing.

Enjoy your EV, because it is the best car available, not because you think it will save the world.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Making things better is better than not doing so.

And how about people enjoy their EV for any reason they want to enjoy it? Everyone doesn’t have to live by you rules. It’s their money, they can spend it how they want.

Problem is that “making things better” is not permanent nor is it making anything better. The proposals will cost trillions of dollar only to delay the inevitable by few months.

Sadly, hardly anyone talks about making things better. Even when something with potential (fusion research) was shut down last year, it was largely ignored by the media.

Sure, everyone should be allowed to spend their money as they see fit. But to say that they drive EV to save the world is false advertising. Maybe some people like to be fooled, but most people prefer reality.

This is an EXCELLENT point Pu-Pu, I couldn’t agree more. Not about AGW mind you, on that we disagree, but your point that AGW is a political hot button and environmentalists should de-emphasize that and instead simply focus on clean air initiatives (which in the end will also reduce carbon). I have made this same point on several forums before but when I have the only responses I tend to get are “DENIER!” or “racist, homophobe, islamaphobe!” Etc.

I actually use your point when discussing the environmental (and other) benefits of EVs with my fellow conservatives. For those who are hard core against EVs I make a simple wager. I tell them to get in their car inside their garage with the garage door closed and crank the engine. Then I will get in my Leaf inside my garage with the garage door closed and turn it on. Then we make a bet on who dies first! So far no one has taken me up on that bet but it has convinced a few people to at least open their minds regarding the benefits of EVs.

Anyone who can’t understand the Hockey Stick of Massive Increases in Carbon Emissions, tied to Humans Using Oil for Planes, Trains, Heat, Cars, Factories, and the huge population spike of the last 200 years, really needs to get that high school GED.

They’re the problem.

Anyone who thinks “we should do something” to stop climate change really needs to understand basic arithmetic taught in first grade. There is no way we’re going to cut 60% total emissions (not just yours) required to keep 2 degrees by doing tiny things like EV, total of which may only cut 15%.

And even if we cut to IPCC recommendation, temperature will still go up roughly at current trajectory. All the hoopla is only delaying the problem, not solving.


To argue that the task is too hard, so let’s do nothing is insanity.

We should do as much as we can. That will mostly come as political action, since all the EV miles we drive can be undone easily by a Republican government that does not “believe” in reality.

Suppose lowering CO2 is like draining the Mediterranean sea. If you see few dozen people with 5 gallon buckets “doing something”, you’d point at them and laugh at their insanity.

But when you’re doing pretty much the same with CO2, you accuse people who actually point out the insanity as the insane?

Go look up the reality. The enormous problem will take massive global effort at huge inconvenience (ie, everyone live like the Unabomber), but only few 5 gallon buckets are being proposed (like Kyoto and Paris), because people don’t want to be bothered with the inconvenience of not having the modern luxury.

Wow. Just wow. Thanks for (unfortunately) helping to prove my point. Keep living in your world where you are right, everyone else is stupid, and nothing changes.

My reply was to MX by the way.

“Then we make a bet on who dies first!”

You can take that argument to next logical step. Garage is enclosed space, but the idea is that concentration of poison gas is what affects the health. If you’re near the source of gas, even in open space, you’re still affected. That’s when you’re driving behind other gassers, especially in traffic jam where the air isn’t moving much.

That should give them a pause when thinking about free dumping of poison gas into their lung. Essentially, that’s what ICE cars do: dumping toxic waste into your lungs.

“and environmentalists should de-emphasize that” That’s a bit like advising the police to crack down on bicycle theft because organized crime is too big of a problem that can’t be solved in a short time span. You obviously have not been following the environmental movement very well, because they have been banging the drum on many things like soot, mountaintop removal mining, heavy metals in drinking water, illegal logging, leaking of fracking fluids, habitat destruction, pesticides and whatnot. However, you need to understand that, whether you agree or not (science doesn’t care about opinions), climate change is the elephant in the room, the single most important environmental issue that puts all others in its shadow. So de-emphasizing that would render all other efforts useless. And then there’s that other thing. The only means of cutting carbon pollution is digging up less coal/oil/gas. The other forms of pollution like NOx, sulfur, heavy metals, soot, particles, etc are relatively easy to combat using tail-pipe technology. For CO2 that doesn’t work. So, no, CO2 can not piggyback on initiatives to cut down other forms of pollution. Since CCS has proven to be a non-starter, we can safely conclude that the only way to… Read more »

Great analogy!

I’m going to use that. 🙂

@Pushmi-Pullyu said: “…I think environmental activists have really dropped the ball on this whole carbon cap or carbon tax thing. If they had pushed it forward as an anti-pollution measure, supporting clean air, then it wouldn’t have gotten snarled up in partisan politics..”

I agree with that. A “Carbon Tax” to promote “clean air” is more universally understood and agreeable than a “Carbon Tax” to fight “Global Warming”.

Also, the “Energy Security” angle of EVs is being underutilized in a big way…

Environmentalist have totally hjacked the CAFE Standards concept/mission that were originally imposed in 1975 to promote “Energy Security” as a National Security issue after the 1973-74 Arab Oil Embargo to now being an environmental “Global Warming” concept/mission.

Tax? Why do you want to give even more money to the a-hole in charge at the White house? Maybe you voted for Dump, in which case you should educate yourself, starting with Bill of Rights.

Taxes are a bad idea, because they will be misused and manipulated. Even if you don’t consider all the military conquest that US is embarked on with your tax money, you only have to look at CARB and their enthusiastic support of idiotic idea of compressed hydrogen.

When you use deriding nicknames like, “Dump” to express your disapproval for the elected president, is it OK?…

What about when I used to use, “Obummer” to describe the man who spent 2 former terms at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? Was I being racist in your opinion? ?

Eventually, I realized being caustic to express my opinion degraded my ability to earn respect. It is truly better to use facts to support your views (and not perceived facts) than to call names.

I call the previous Prez Obummer. That perfectly describes him with his socialist policies like Obummer care (did your premiums sky rocket, yet?)

If not for his lazy ass golfing toward the end, we may not have Dump in the white house. She-lery is not much better, the war mongering hawk that she is, but at least she’s not as much of an a-hole.

Revenue neutral if you must, or keep the extra to pay off all our debt from giving hand outs to oil companies and two huge wars on the credit card.

I don’t think most reasonable people consider government regulations supporting clean air and clean water to be “politics”.

You’d be quite bluntly wrong. The Republicans have been targeting environmental regulations on those very topics from every angle possible for awhile now.

Hard to make it a partisan argument.

Perhaps you forgot candidate Obama’s constant promises on the stump to never fold on allowing oil companies near coastal drilling rights – anywhere, anytime. I can provide links to his speeches but tbey are easily found on YouTube. As you know, he flipped on those promises and gave oil companies rights to near shore drilling in 5 states in an effort to sway conservative lawmakers to vote for Obamacare.

My state once elected a Democrat governor named Dixie Lee Ray. She self described herself as an environmentalist, even writing a book on conservation. She needed cash to fund her campaign. She reached out to oil companies who needed to defeat legislation requiring them to use double hulled oil tankers in Washington’s Puget Sound. Upon being elected as governor, she forced through laws allowing said companies to continue the risky practice of single hull oil tankers, citing potential loss of jobs. Insult to injury – this was AFTER the Exxon Valdez tragedy you may be familiar with.

Citing one party over another is a cheap shot. Rather, cite politics as usual as the villian of the public good.

Deregulating everything is very much a partisan issue. Fascists, who currently call themselves Republicans, are hell bent on destroying the government from within, so their Koch buddies can do whatever they please.

The people who oppose carbon caps and taxes also oppose pollution regulation, so I’m not sure why difference it would make.

The carbon benefits of EVs depend a lot on the source of the energy. Much better to simply drive a smaller, more efficient vehicle less EV or petroleum in the tank). Big EVs are still energy hogs.

Sales of mid price EVs ($25 to 40k) will likely tank once the tax credits and rebates are done.

A substantial carbon tax which is mostly rebated on a per capita basis is a real answer though it has no prospects politically. Conservation is not really part of the American ethos.

Another Euro point of view

Well there is a reason why in most countries EVs market share is less than 2 percent.
1/ not enough offer
2/ expensive (if not then range issues)
3/ limited charging infrastructure
There is a reason why most car makers target 2020 (availability of cheaper battery cells with higher energy density), as soon as sufficient offer from OEM then charging network will adapt very quickly.

The price and cost of EVs is due to the cost of lithium batteries, a fact commonly known and accepted.

Fact is that consumer uptake of EVs ramps up dramatically when price reaches parity with ICE counterparts.

Merely listing EV shortcomings is misleading. Those shortcomings pale when compared to those of conventional cars.

Every item you listed vanishes when volume of EVs increases. Batteries become cheaper, energy density naturally improves as the quality, speed and numbers of public chargers increase exponentially.

So how do we reach the point where OEM ICEmakers build EVs in the 100,000s vs the compliance 25,000 they do today?

The only way that has seemed to work is to start a new company that builds fast, exciting cars that exclusively sells EVs on their exciting attributes, that also happen to be clean and practical…Not practical transport appliances that have exciting aspects.

There is currently only one company today doing that with gusto in earnest. The same company which illicits such passionate hate and adoration on websites such as this.

Meanwhile, GM has told European dealerships to stop taking orders because they can’t make supply figures. That’s a really unclear combination of messages, Ms. Barra. I feel like the struggle here is profitability. They, on the one hand, need to sell in certain markets, but on the other hand, are not running the Bolt/Ampera-e program profitably. They are after market share with the Bolt as the most reliable GM vehicle, and at the same time, they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them with dealerships, who know that once an EV rolls off the lot, they aren’t likely to see that customer again unless warranty or recall work is needed. Chevrolet ads aren’t about the Bolt, they are about what makes GM money: ICE SUVs and trucks.

GM doesn’t own Opel anymore….what financial incentive do they have in pumping Bolts/Ampera-Es into Europe? It’s probably just filling out some contractual obligations that were specified when PSA agreed to buy Opel. That demand is far exceeding those contractual obligations, tough nuggets.

News to me about Opel ownership. Thanks. This darkens the tale of GM further, sadly. Can PSA make the Ampera-E on their own, or are they buying services from GM?

PSA can not make the Ampera. They have to buy it from GM. Supposedly PSA has their own line of EVs coming someday.

The problem with the GM – Opel thing is, at present, all BEVs are sold at a loss by everybody. Since Opel is no longer GM, they don’t want to sell a car to them at a loss. However, Opel doesn’t want to share this loss either, so they just stop selling Amperes which is what they have done.

To be clear, it’s Opel/PSA that has said “Stop taking orders”, not GM.

GM sells the cars to Opel. So, the incentive would be $Money$ and $Profit$.

Sadly, there is no profit to be had. If they were to charge the consumer what they needed to to make a profit, the Bolt/Ampera would be dead. No one would buy it. These cars are sold at a loss by GM at this point which is typical of all BEV programs by any manufacturer.

The only exception is Tesla because they sell the Model S and Model X in the luxury market where buyers aren’t afraid of high price tags. We shall see some day when they actually sell the Model 3 whether or not they make a profit on them.

The Nissan Leaf has been sold for a profit for years. I always enjoy these blanket statements that are just false.

That makes no sense at all. Opel doesn’t have to sell ev in EU in order to be able to sell gassers, they can just sell gassers and forget anout Ampera but for some reason they still sell it. I don’t buy the no profit argument, that was never verified. Somehow GM is the only manufacturer that sells a $40k economy car at a loss…let’s get real here and call it bs!

Pay attention Mark. Opel (PSA) just said- “Take no more orders”. They are not selling it. What part of losing money don’t you understand?

But bro1999, people just Don’t want EVs.

GM says so.

And why advertise them? That would be a waste of money! ?

I see Chevy ads almost every day that include the Bolt. I saw one two days ago that included only the Bolt and Volt.

GM stated that they would not nationally advertise The Volt on TV in mixed media (TV) they stated that they would advertise Volt on billboards in California only and in specific publications read by early adopter types.

I have yet to see a Bolt EV TV spot.

Volt/Bolt targeted ads may follow you around the internet. The miracle of ad tracking. Thanks, Google and Facebook!

He is talking about that silly commercial with the “awards” thire cars received…initial quality….whatever that means…where for a second you can see the Bolt if you already know where to look and what to look for. Yeah, GM is advertising the Bolt…lol.

I am NOT talking about that commercial.

I am referring to a commercial which ONLY has Bolts and Volts in it. No non-plugins at all (and no CT6 either).

It is not a Chevy national ad, as James pointed out.

The ads I saw were from dealers offering the cars for sale. They were TV ads during significant TV shows (baseball playoffs). They surely were local insert ads. It’s still possible they are tracking ads too as cable companies do this now.

While it might be nice to se GM run a Bolt-only nationwide I don’t really see how it’s all that useful. Targeted ads work better to generate sales.

I haven’t seen a Tesla nationwide ad recently either. There are better ways to sell cars.

Dealer ads ars not paid for nor made by GM.

Local ads for dealers are paid for by that dealer or regional dealer group.

I know who pays for them. So what?

You said you never saw a Bolt TV spot.

I have. Many. And if you were in an area where people buy them you likely would have too.

I found this very funny. For years I have been told the big three will swamp Tesla and put it out of business because they can out-mass produce cars anytime they want to, yet here we are with GM saying they can’t meet demand while producing fewer electric cars than Tesla.

We all Can “Rest Assured” that the Traditional Big ICE makers DO NOT WANT EV”S. They are reluctantly building EV’s through no choice of their own…

Automakers are not in the business of making ICE cars, they are in the business of making money for their shareholders. If there is a market in EVs they will build as many as the market demands. If GM built a million Bolts right now there would be over 900,000 of them still sitting in lots a year later. The market isn’t there yet but it is coming.

I’m not so sure “the market isn’t there” for electric cars. Let’s change around your example a bit. If Tesla produced a million Model 3s next year, I don’t think they’d have any trouble selling them all.

What makes you so sure? A “gut feeling”? You want one, so everyone else must too? There is absolutely no evidence that Tesla could sell a million Model 3s in a year.

Maybe not Model 3’s alone, but Model 3 + Model Y sales together might.

500,000 preorders to start with. That was before the finished car had been seen (still barely has been seen btw)

If Tesla sold Model 3s for $1000 – the cost of a preorder – then sure, they would easily sell 500,000.

A $1000 preorder is not a $45,000 sale.

Sorry, no, that is not the case. Those are not 500,000 pre-orders. Those are 500,000 deposits for the option to order when finally invited to do so. A LOT of those people are going to drop out between now and the time they are cordially invited to place an order. Furthermore, once these Tesla fans have their cars, sales will taper off as pent up demand is met. You are delusional if you think that Tesla will sell 500,000 cars year after year let alone a million.

There should be a license to Operate. If your product harms society, you corporation doesn’t get a license to operate.

Money for shareholders is the stupidest way to decide what to do in the market.

Oh brother. I mean Big Brother. That awesome “public policy” would pretty much put production of everything to a stop and the economy to an end. A rabid environmentalist can argue that nearly everything made “harms society” by the very fact that it is produced.

And free market can lead to entire towns being evacuated and declared a hazard zone for the next 50 years. They been there and done that.

A common entry in threads where this topic comes up.

But it’s flat untrue. If GM or anyone built 900,000 annual 200-250 mile EVs that seated 5 passengers comfortably, their cost to build drops considerably. The result is price parity with ICE vehicles in the same categories. Reach that and consumer reluctance disappears. Number and speed of public charging increases organically to meet need.

Guys who tout the, “it’s business to meet stockholder expectations” don’t admit the uber obvious consumer benefits an EV provides consumers over old-fashioned ICE vehicles.

The cost doesn’t just drop like that. The higher costs are so the suppliers/companies can recoup the cost of the new factories and equipment they have to build to make new products.

If they to tool up to make 900,000 a year it would cost a mint. It would be divided across more cars, but the net effect would be similar to tooling up to make 30,000 a year.

What will reduce costs is when the equipment is reused year over year. So prices aren’t going to go down quickly just because a company were to decide to make 30x more cars in the first year. They have to make more cars over more years.

This is complete nonsense. How does building “900,000” 5-passenger BEVs somehow mean that price parity with ICE is magically achieved? Can I use this same wizardry to make 900,000 FCVs and instantly achieve price parity with ICE? How many 18-wheelers do I have to manufacture before I can mystically force BEV semis to achieve price parity with diesel?

While I think the article does a good job discussing this point… for those who only read headlines: “However, she is concerned about demand and believes that it’s important to excite people about the segment, rather than outright mandating it. Sometimes people respond negatively to mandates, and no one really wants to be forced. Barra hopes to be able to work to assure that the transition happens the right way.” Tesla has done a lot for making EVs desireable! And the Volt, Bolt, Prime and Leaf are showing that yes, even the common middle class of america can afford one lol. I think demand is growing but I still have conversations with people who are shocked that I have an electric car. Much like autonomous driving, the average person doesn’t seem to see the benefit of an electric over an ICE just by explaining the benefits. So I try to offer people I know a ride, or let them drive the car for a few blocks to get a feel for it. The first thing they love is the two displays on the dash and the rear mirror cam. Then they’re even more impressed when i start driving. “I didn’t… Read more »

Has anyone else heard this argument before?
“However, she is concerned about demand and believes that it’s important to excite people about the segment, rather than outright mandating it.

Hmmm. Sounds exactly like the seatbelt argument.
It’s almost as if they’ve got a PLAYBOOK for arguments against good public policy.

Yeah, Mary?

Then where’s the new 0-60 in 2.5 sec. EV Corvette?

Yeah stop making fugly econoboxes and maybe they will sell.

The Prius outsells the Corvette. So do the Corolla and the Camry. So which market should GM go after with their plug-ins: the flashy low volume sportscars, or the econoboxes?

GM CEO Mary Barra said “…at the end of the day you still have to make customers happy and you have to fill their needs…”

Hence why GM needs to address providing access to a convenient & reliable supercharger network for their EVs offerings.

They are partnering with companies like chargepoint to do that. It makes a LOT more sense to join up with other automakers to come up with standards in the long term. You don’t go to a Ford only gas station that sounds ridiculous.

It -doesn’t- sound ridiculous in the short term when there is no existing charging network which is where Tesla started from.

Right now you are kind of in the middle because really if a major station(like shell in europe is doing) or chain of any kind like mcdonalds, installed high speed chargers at all their locations. There would be no need for any automaker to have their own network.

I said the following about 2 years ago on this site and it remains true today:

Traditional auto knows electric vehicles are the future and they want to position themselves to be ready, but they want the transition to take as long as possible because ICE vehicles are wildly profitable.

I don’t see anything remarkable in your statement … what is remarkable is the fact that people still don’t get i …. that they still call legacy OEM’s dumb, because they are not dropping ICE production, 100%, and yesterday. They cannot operate the same way Tesla does …. how can you not understand the difference, is remarkable.

At some point, when EV’s would have been mass produced for +20 years … I am sure they will be as profitable as ICE …. until then, don’t surprised for them to be around and make money for long time.

The Volt and Bolt are, objectively, two of the best vehicles ever made in this country. Yet compared to ICE equivalents, their sales would be considered unacceptably low.

At some point, consumers vote with their wallets. The only EV that enjoys sales that are comparable to ICE cars in its class is a luxury sport sedan for the ultra-wealthy. Should GM, Nissan, BMW, Toyota etc. drop their vehicles aimed at the middle class and instead focus on providing slick toys for the rich?

In the US things are going GM’s way politically, Barra is on Trump’s advisory board, Trump has backed out of the climate agreement and EPA’s Scott Pruitt is lending a willing ear to GM’s legal teams pleading for more lenient emission mandates.

China could be a tougher cooky though. China’s nightmarish smog filled high rise cities are a threat to popular support for the communist party and immanent peak domestic oil production will quickly increase dependency on imports and the need to make a dash for South China Sea resources.

I think Mrs. Barra needs to accept that it’s going to be China’s way or the highway on this one.

No one is on Trump’s advisory board. All the CEOs began to quit and when that reached a critical level he disbanded all those industry advisory boards. This was months ago.

Looks like Mrs. Barra wasn’t among the CEOs that walked out though.

There was no way to walk. He disbanded the groups as the member quit rate was peaking.

She was supposedly part of the next group that was going to leave. Trump pre-empted their leaving by disbanding the group to avoid another PR disaster.

Trump’s advisory board disbanded in August after his Charlottesville failure.

Yeah, they jumped ship. The captain is crazy.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

The article says she’s on it. She must be….

Captian BarraBosa!


Plus, lest we forget GM is bankrolling the N.A.D.A. and various state auto dealer associations’ legal efforts to prevent Tesla from direct selling it’s cars.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

All the people who have bought Volts, Bolts, ELRs, and Spark EVs would tend to disagree with you.

Of course GM is fighting Tesla, that’s what competition is about.

The main goal of any for-profit business is to make a profit. GM makes a ton of profit selling ICE Trucks & SUVs. So, they would be remiss if they didn’t try fight rules that might hamper those high-profit sales.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Then GM’s goal should be to be able to sell their cars the same as Tesla.

Selling in the Tesla model would increase their profit margin. But that’s not what they are trying to do is it?

You’re right, they want to sell ICE. In the latest round of Layoffs on smaller gas efficient cars it was stated…

“GM also confirmed Friday that it’s investing $294 million in the factory to build a new Cadillac SUV.”

Their goal is to make as much profit as possible. Tesla isn’t making a profit. If you’re taking about using the Tesla direct sales model, GM would kill to be able to do that. But, franchise laws mean they’re stuck using low-life dealers. Given that situation, it makes sense for them to try to stick Tesla with the same handicap.

Again, no traditional car manufacturer is releasing EVs because it makes business sense right now. They’re doing it because of government regulations and to hedge against the possibility that EVs will takeover. The second point might be called “The Tesla Hedge.”

the “tesla hedge” was really the government and the automakers agreeing. They needed to do something, but there is no way they were going to convince shareholders, and that causes -major- problems as in hostile takeover types trying to control companies like GM to kill the product (which historically has happened) or even internally by workers thinking they will lose their jobs. So with the fuel emission standards, they were able to funnel money over to Tesla and let them take the risk to demonstrate the market viability by buying emissions credits. Once Tesla demonstrated there was a market, they could move forward with a marketable product by pointing to the Tesla market. Now they just have to demonstrate they can actually make a profit or at least breakeven with their technology as they hammer out designs and build up their knowledge base. They DO have significant overhead in facilities to produce ICE vehicles they need to finish amortizing like engine and transmission factories. But battery tech isn’t good enough at this point to replace their whole fleet with EVs at this point anyway. So Barra is really right. The market isn’t completely there yet, there are still missing pieces… Read more »

Its odd that she’s questioning the demand and yet GM is failing to fulfill the demand for the Bolt outside of the US (eg here in Canada and Europe).
It makes it look that they are either constrained by battery supply or they’re losing money on each one they sell. Or both.

It’s the second part. They’re losing money on each one. Also apparent demand for BEVs is misleading. There are a few people making a lot of noise about not getting their Bolt in foreign lands and this amplifies the perception that there is a demand. Once this small number of people get their cars, who’s next? Who’s standing in line behind them?

I recently went on a driving trip across much of Canada and I can tell you that there are very, very few… almost no BEVs there of any brand. No Teslas, no Leafs, no i3s no compliance cars. I did see a few here and there on the road, but nothing like in California. I just did not see this great Canadian demand.

I agree with you about the level of demand. I appreciate the EV enthusiasts who are there. But look at the cars on the road and it’s clear EVs are so rare they aren’t even part of the market. Even in Toronto it’s exceedingly rare to even see a Tesla. Even though Teslas are by far the most common EV in areas which don’t have infrastructure but do have money. I hope the government(s) in Canada can do things to drive up demand. But until then, it appears to be as you say. There are a small number of very vocal people who legitimately aren’t being served right now. But there’s no reason to think there is a big demand behind that. It’s going to take a little longer. Looking at some charts I googled up, it appears that as of March, 2017 2% of all EVs ever sold in Ontario were Bolts. Even though at that time the Bolt had just come out there and supplies are supposedly low. 16,000 total BEVs ever sold, 300 Bolts as of March 2017. If they kept it up like that then after a year 10% of all EVs ever sold in Ontario… Read more »

Yes, despite a late spring launch the Bolt is currently the best selling BEV in Canada and the second best selling plug-in in the country.

That darn Volt is the only thing standing in the way of the Bolt being #1! 🙂

GM owns the plug-in market in Canada. Tesla and Nissan are the only other brands worth mentioning though… the Canadian EV market is tiny.

The numbers in the chart above are from a few months ago. Bolt EV sales since then:

July 117
August 82
September 227

Canada is tbe USA’s #1 provider of imported oil. Unlike other large oil producers such as those in O.P.E.C. , Canadian citizens do not benefit from cheap gasoline prices. In fact, Canandians pay more for gas than Americans do!

I hear from passionate Volt owner groups in Canada regularly and the message is always a waiting list for EVs and long waiting times.

Ask the average Canadian from any province or coast and there is a general dissatisfaction of their costs for gasoline and a genuine concern for the environment higher than the average American’s.

You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m going to get on a plane to Fort McMurray right now and go poll “any Canadian from any province” and see if their concern for the environment is a higher than that of the average American’s.

Canadians aren’t that different from Americans. Some are concerned about the environment. And others are paid to destroy it to make a buck and make vehicles move.

There’s nothing here. This happened a week ago and she already clarified her statements.

There’s nothing wrong with a company realizing that demand for electric cars is much less than that for ICE cars and saying they have to treat EVs as a market not as a mandate.

Look at it this way, even if EVs are mandated, if you have two companies, one of which does the minimum mandated on their EVs and the other tries to make a car that people will see as meeting their needs, who is going to sell more EVs?

She’s saying the same things Eberhard or Musk said when Tesla began and that is the goal is to make EVs people want.

“Nothing to see here…move along”, eh, Unlucky?

She’s right. EVs must sell because they are better, not because they are forced.

It depends on what your definition of better is. By far and away evs are better.
Better for the environment.
Better for human health.
Better TCTO.
Better efficiency.
Better driving experience.

Is that better enough, or do you want more betters?

For the most, you are right on the 1-4 …. 5 is very debatable and highly dependable on costs. In another words, Tesla’s cars, I’d say for the most part are better driving experience than average car out there, but it’s also vastly more expensive than average car out there, so it’s unobtainable for most people. Yes, model 3 will expand the reach, but it’s still pretty pricey car, once equipped decently.

Unfortunately, many care about point 5 more than 1-4, perhaps excluding 3, but it still remains to be seen how reliable EV’s will be once out of warranties in mass numbers, like model 3.

In another words, it really is difficult to convince people that EV’s are better (based on anyone’s list), unless you somewhat become fan and educated one at that. Most people are not …

Was it hard to convince Americans that iPhones were better than their flip phone?

Monkey see, monkey do.

People said exactly the same thing about hybrid adoption before Toyota sold 3,000,000 Prius.

When consumers see Prius everywhere, they seek to find out for themselves what all the fuss is about.

It’s price and charging convenience that stifle EV sales. Add unavailability and that wraps it up. Now who is limiting these things, GM?

Tesla is the model that will prove Barra a hypocrite. Her company funds legal battles against the EV-only automaker’s efforts to provide a new sales model to the public. Her company builds a nice little overpriced BEV but metes it out to receive ZEV credits and conform to mandates. The only passion or enthusiasm shown for EVs inside her company is by their extraordinary engineers who are strapped by what their employer tells them To create.

At current rate, it will take Tesla 5-8 Year’s to bring EV sales to a tipping point. There will be brand fans who claim some ICEmaker was crucial in the EVolution of the automobile. I assert that but for Tesla Nd government intervention, that evolution would/will never happen.

No thanks to Mary Barra.

It’s just nice to have you back again making informed, cogent arguments. Thanks.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Well lets level the playing field shall we?

Remove all petrol subsidies for all the Gas & Diesel and see what happens.

That way nobody is “Forced” into one or the other.

A fair gas price will be at least double of what it is now…it will destroy the American poor as everything will get expensive fast. It will never happen.

Nice, balanced article. Good work.

My first Volt was a 2012, the second is a 2015 I special ordered. When the Bolt was announced and being unveiled at the 2015 Detroit International Auto Show, I bought two round trip tickets to see it in person. I liked what I saw then and was excited when GM finally got the Bolt into production. I wanted to buy one.

In the span of 7 years, my wife and I bought 5 new vehicles from the same Chevy dealership. We received TERRIBLE service on our Volts and the Malibu ECO and became so disenchanted with the dealership and it’s missing in action owner, we just bought two Jeeps (hers a Grand Cherokee Summit, mine a Compass Trailhawk.

Some Chevrolet dealerships and especially the service technicians must have as their last name Cavuto, or believe Neil Cavuto preached the Gospel about the Volt being possessed by demons. Until Chevrolet (and GM) stop believing the Volt and Bolt are the bastard step children that should be kept in the basement, I don’t suppose I’ll ever buy another GM product again.

Google “Dusty” and “Dusty Too” in Voltstats. Man, I love those cars but despise the dealership I bought them from.

Luke, no offense, and I’m sorry that you had such bad luck with Dealer Service; but why if you had TERRIBLE service with ONE chevy, would you buy 4 more from the same dealership?

Do you live in such a sparsely populated region that it is a chore to go to a different dealership? In any event, while the warranty is in effect, the dealer bills GM for the warranty service, and if it must be constantly repeated for the same issue, at some point GM’s Zone Manager will institute an investigation.

Mrs Barra should go to a Chevy dealer in California and try to buy one. They want to sell you trucks …. I had the least interested dealership ever to sell me a new car in Buellton, CA

” I had the least interested dealership ever to sell me a new car in Buellton, CA”

IF anyone knows the town, then they would have totally understood why.

That is no different from middle of nowhere Kansas. People need pickup trucks for farm work, what do you expect?

I thought it was a strange choice of location too.

I doubt the local dealer was even Bolt-authorized. They’re going to try to sell you what they have and they likely don’t have a Bolt.

This all comes down to 2 facts:

1) ICE car makers are seeing lower profit margins in their EV’s than in their ICE cars.

2) ICE car makers will lose market share to pure BEV car makers as ICE car sales are eaten into by pure BEV car sales.

This motivates ICE car companies to sandbag the transition to EV’s for as long as they can.

That is the ONLY reason!

Money and profits are what drives corporation forward. Tesla is very LUCKY to be able to deliver great EVs without the Wall Street pressure of making profits.

Once the EV technology reaches cost tipping point so that it will cost less for automakers to make them but sells for higher profit, they will all jump on it.

Exactly! A lot of people seem to think that companies should do things for reasons other than profit. But that’s not how a public for-profit company works. Every decision needs to ultimately sustain/increase profit.

For the traditional car companies that means selling high-profit ICE vehicles and dampening the demand for low profit EVs. It’s just business.

Nobody is making any money off of electric cars. If Nissan was making money off of electric cars, they would stop building ICE engine cars and trucks. Tesla has not made a dime, and still hasn’t.

GM stopped producing cars in Australia this week.
I bought a Volt 4 years ago, ready for a new car, but no Bolt available. So 1 customer , long time GM buyer , now has a Tesla 3 ordered.
Cannot wait.. but watching GM , and Mary Barra, and I think she has her hands tied by the board.
She could not accelerate satisfying the demand that is there, that is apparent, in Europe and other parts of the Globe, even if she wanted to.
Like many have said, GM has the ability, but at a board level, is not willing, to properly test and meet the demand for Electric Vehicles in the BEV segment. She should not wonder , or think, about whether there is demand, she should say wow! Half a million EV orders, GM should up its game and compete now, instead of waiiitttiiinnngg. in 2 years time, watch GM’s tune change..could be fun to watch.. and I have no GM stock. 🙂

Oh, and… I am sure that her clarification now assures me that her words were not spun into something n̶e̶g̶a̶t̶i̶v̶e̶ .. positive.
(see the heading at top of story)

First confirmed 2018 Chevy Bolt model difference:

It works with iPhone 8 and X for wireless charging. The 2017 doesn’t.