General Motors is increasing and accelerating its rollout of all-electric vehicles as the automaker attempts to compete against industry leader Tesla as well as an influx of new competitors in the emerging market.
The Detroit automaker said Thursday it will spend $27 billion on all-electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025, an increase of $7 billion, or 35%, from initial plans announced in March. The increased investment will support GM's plans to release 30 new EVs globally by 2025, including more than 20 just for North America.
GM said it has moved up the release of 12 electric vehicles, including pickups for its Chevrolet and GMC brands. It is targeting 1 million in global EV sales by 2025.
"We want to lead in this space. We don't just want to participate, we want to lead," Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, said during a media briefing. "Tesla's got a good jump and they've done great things. They're formidable competitors … and there's a lot of start-ups and everyone else invading this space. We're not going to subside leadership there."
Tesla last year accounted for roughly three out of every four EVs sold in the U.S. New electric vehicles from GM, Audi and others in recent years have done little to take away from Tesla's sales as it releases new products for its growing and loyal fan base, including an electric pickup.
GM CEO Mary Barra said the automaker hopes to outsell Tesla in EVs. She did not give a specific time frame to achieve that goal.
"We're committed to fighting for EV market share until we are No. 1 in North America," she said Thursday during a virtual Barclays automotive conference. "Achieving margins similar, or to, or higher than our (internal combustion engine) business."
Barra said GM's broad EV portfolio will drive consumer adoption and create shareholder value "faster than many people think."
"EVs are core to creating GM shareholder value," she said, later adding the company has assets that start-ups "will struggle to match."
A majority of the new vehicles from GM will feature the company's forthcoming "Ultium" battery cells. The first vehicle with the new batteries will be the GMC Hummer EV pickup, which is expected next fall. The company will produce the batteries and their cells through a previously announced $2.3 billion joint venture with LG Chem.
The Hummer will be followed by the Cadillac Lyriq crossover for the first quarter of 2022 for the U.S. – nine months ahead of schedule. GM said other electric vehicle releases that were pulled ahead include three GMC models and four Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles for each brand. GM declined to release additional details of those vehicles.
Ahead of the new vehicles, GM next year is scheduled to release a freshened version of its current Chevrolet Bolt EV as well as a new crossover variant of the vehicle. Both were delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Advancements in engineering have increased the maximum range of Ultium-based vehicles from 400 to 450 miles on a full charge, GM said Thursday. The company said more than half of GM's capital spending and product development team will be devoted to electric and electric-autonomous vehicle programs.
A new generation of the Ultium cells should reduce the price of its EVs to be comparable with current gasoline-powered models by mid-decade, which has been a major challenge for the industry, according to GM. The company said it is already prototype testing the next-generation Ultium batteries. The cells are projected to deliver twice the energy density at less than half the cost of today's chemistry, GM said.
The shift isn't connected to the U.S. election, according to Parks. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to be far more supportive of EVs and charging infrastructure for the vehicles than President Donald Trump has been.