Back in late 2012, General Motors confidently predicted it would be capable of putting half a million electrified vehicles on the roads of the U.S. by 2017. The goal, which included everything from mild hybrid cars with eAssist technology through to full-blown plug-in hybrids and electric cars, was to be a triumphant milestone to signify GM’s commitment to cleaner, greener vehicles.
Yet as GM admitted on Thursday last week in its latest corporate sustainability report, it will miss its own target by a substantial margin.
“For our commitment to electrification, our forecasted outlook currently projects us, along with the broader automotive industry, falling short of expectations for 2017”General Motors Sustainability Report
According to that report in 2014 there were 180,834 General Motors vehicles on the roads of the U.S. with some form of electrification. That’s up from 153,034 in 2013 and 39,843 in 2011. But while the figures are up, they’re a long way from the 500,000 car goal set by the company two and a half years ago.
“For our commitment to electrification, our forecasted outlook currently projects us, along with the broader automotive industry, falling short of expectations for 2017,” the report stated. “GM is committed to electrification and our award-winning eAssist, extended-range electric vehicle and battery electric vehicle offerings, but consumer demand for these vehicles has not kept up with our initial projections.”
The drop in expectations for 2017 might be disappointing for General Motors and its shareholders, but it’s worth noting that GM is not the only automaker on track to miss earlier predictions about electrified vehicles.
Rival automaker Nissan, maker of the world’s most popular electric car, the Nissan LEAF hatchback, has also found that its initial goals for electric and hybrid vehicles were overoptimistic. Even as early as 2012, Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn admitted that “we were a little bit arrogant” about predicted market share and demand for early model-year LEAFs.
While Nissan has overwhelmingly concentrated on pure electrics, GM has chosen a more blended approach, with its own goal of having 500,000 GM electrified vehicles on the roads of the U.S. relying as strongly on more affordable mild hybrid and hybrid models as it has on high-ticket plug-ins.
Some help may be on the way courtesy of two new Chevy plug-in models: the 2016 Chevy Volt and 2017 Chevy Bolt.
Since it made that initial prediction in 2012 however, GM has been suffering at the hand of low gas prices and a high number of competing products from rival automakers. While the Chevrolet Volt has held its own in the plug-in marketplace, remaining at the top of the U.S. plug-in sales charts until a few months ago, GM’s mild hybrid lineup has fared poorly against competing cars from Ford and Toyota, both of which produce affordable, full hybrid models with far greater fuel efficiency than GM’s mild hybrids can muster.
While GM’s goal of half a million electrified cars now looks unlikely, some help may be on its way, courtesy of two new plug-in models due to launch in the next year.
The first is the second-generation Chevrolet Volt, which is due to enter production this summer as a 2016 model year car. More conventional in its design, with a sleeker, sportier look, better fuel efficiency and a longer all-electric range, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt could entice more would-be owners to the brand and up GM’s market share for electrified vehicles.
Next year, GM will launch the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, its first mass-produced, long-range electric car. Promising a range of up to 200 miles per charge and a target price tag of between $30,000 and $35,000, the Chevrolet Bolt is expected to be a big seller for GM — provided it can meet with its promises for the model.
Do you think GM could do anything to help it reach that original target? And is there anything it could have done in the past to improve the sales of its electric, range-extended electric and hybrid models?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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