Speaking to the Barclays 2017 Global Automotive Conference in New York on November 14, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the company’s next generation of electric vehicles will cost 30% less to manufacture than its current electrified models. That decrease will come mostly as the result of lower battery costs according to CBS News.
Barra says the cost of battery cells for the Chevy Volt and Chevy Bolt are currently about $145 per kilowatt-hour. She sees that dropping to around $100 per kilowatt-hour in the next few years. She says her company also expects to reduce manufacturing costs as it gains experience building electric cars. The target for the next generation of electric cars from GM — due in showrooms in 2021 — is 300 miles of range or more. “We are committed to a future electric vehicle portfolio that is profitable,” Barra told the group.
A new manufacturing platform for electric vehicles is also in the works, Barra told the conference. “This will launch in 2021 and support multiple brands and multiple segments,” she said. “At General Motors, we are very much dedicated to leading in battery technology as well as electric vehicles. So this all new EV platform, one of the things we’ll be doing is structurally integrating the batteries into the architecture that will allow us to take out cost and gives us a better flexibility from a design perspective.” GM has committed to rolling out 20 new zero emissions vehicles no later than the year 2023.
Electric vehicle sales remain a tiny fraction of total vehicle sales in the United States, but China is bringing pressure to bear on all major manufacturers who wish to do business in that country by requiring them to sell at least 10% “new energy vehicles” starting next year.
GM sold just under 10 million vehicles last year of which about a third were sold in China. It cannot afford to concentrate solely on the pickup trucks and SUVs that Americans treasure so deeply. China’s policies are driving the reduction in electric vehicle prices that will make them more affordable in the US if and when Americans ever decide that getting 15 mpg is just not good enough any more. Based on current buying habits, that day is still a long way off. Americans like to pay lip service to their commitment to help the environment but only if doing so means they don’t have to make any changes to their comfortable lifestyle.