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GM Powers Up its EV Plans for the Future

GM Powers Up its EV Plans for the Future

By Jeff Youngs, November 16, 2012
General Motors expects to have as many as 500,000 vehicles that use electric power in some capacity on the road within the next 5 years, according to Mary Barra, senior vice president in charge of global product development. Since GM already manufactures the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which is selling at a faster pace this year vs. last year and which ranks highest in the compact car segment in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study,SM the plan is no surprise.

Barra told participants at a GM electrification event in San Francisco, California, that plug-in hybrids, which rely on an electric motor and a gasoline-fueled powertrain, will play a major role in the company's technology portfolio.

The plug-in Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle has turned into a real-world starting point to push EV technology further and faster than GM thought would be possible 5 years ago, according to Barra. The unique propulsion technology pioneered in the Volt--which includes a Lithium-ion battery-powered electric motor generating 149 horsepower equal to 111 kilowatts and a 1.4 liter, 4-cylinder gasoline engine--will also be featured in the upcoming Cadillac ELR. Lessons from the Volt's 2 years in the marketplace are being applied to the technology in the Chevrolet Spark EV, which will launch in U.S. and South Korean markets next year.

GM hopes to sell more than 50,000 vehicles with some kind of electrification this year, Barra said. The mix will include the Chevrolet Volt PHEV, as well as the Buick LaCrosse and Regal and the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu, all of which will boast the automaker's eAssist light electrification technology. The eAssist technology improves vehicle fuel efficiency by adding a compact electric motor and Lithium-ion battery to a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, enhancements that GM claims will improve fuel economy by an estimated 25%. This new technology will be used on hundreds of thousands of GM vehicles each year, Barra said.

Through the first 10 months of 2012, Chevrolet dealers delivered 19,309 Volts, which is nearly four times more vehicles than a year ago when the automaker sold and leased only 5,003 PHEVs, according to J.D. Power research. October unit sales totals for the Volt were the strongest for any month this year--2,962 units.