Steel Markets

GM Chevy Bolt to Challenge Tesla

Written by Sandy Williams

General Motors wants to bring electric cars to the masses not just the “elite.” GM CEO Mary Barra, in an interview with LinkedIn’s executive editor Daniel Roth, said the all-electric Chevy Bolt (with a “B”) will be offered to the public at $30,000 compared to Tesla’s $75,000 vehicle.

Electrification is for everyone, “not just the elite,” said Barra. “Affordability will really pave the way because customers are very rational. [They] are gonna do the math and they’re gonna figure out, ‘Hey, what works best for my use case?’”

Currently GM produces the hybrid Chevy Volt that is one of GM’s highest rated consumer satisfaction vehicles. Barra explained the e-assist on vehicles with internal combustion engines has improved fuel efficiency by 25 percent.

“With the next generation Volt, which we will have out shortly, we actually took all the people who own it now and understand it and said, “How can we make it better?” And, so I’m excited to put the new Volt into the hands of existing customers, and then expand the customer base,” said Barra. The new Volt will have improvements in design and how it operates, as well as dramatic technology improvements in the battery.

The Chevy Bolt EV, to be introduced in 2017, will go 200 miles on a single charge and will be able to compete with the nearly twice as expensive Tesla.

“The key is the energy density of the battery,” said Barra, “how far can you go between charges, how economically can you do that and frankly what is the size of it.” Improvements on technology made the 200 miles possible for the Bolt at the $30,000 price, said Barra,

Barra said it is hard to predict when electric cars may overtake gasoline cars for GM. Technology breakthroughs and affordability will pave the way, said Barra. In the near future a blend of EV, hybrid and traditional vehicles will continue. Barra said it is important to be on the leading edge of battery development.

“I think we are on a journey, but I think electrification is here to stay and will only continue to grow.”

People right now have range anxiety, but they don’t when they have regular gas or diesel fueled vehicles, said Barra. Battery improvements, infrastructure for charging and the ability to do that quickly will pave the way for electric cars, she said.

“We talk about the importance of the battery and electrification, but if you can make the whole vehicle efficient it uses less energy… We have worked on very lightweight structures that still give the performance from a crash, from a driving and handling, you know, hugging-the-road-type of perspective, but much lighter. And when you take weight out of the vehicle, it needs less energy to propel it. And you start to look at every way you can make each subsystem in the vehicle more efficient, which will allow it to go farther as well. So it’s not only battery development, it’s every aspect of the car.”

“It’s very likely that gas prices will go up again,” said Barra. “And possibly even go higher than they were.“

GM plans to be ready with new innovations “In key areas we definitely want to lead,” she said. “And I think in many cases, we are.”

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