General Motors to Say ‘Goodbye’ to Diesel and Gasoline
By Zlatan Stankovic on October 9, 2017
For over a century, General Motors (GM) has been producing some of the industry’s finest vehicles. In the US and all around the world, millions of people have enjoyed models from the gasoline as well as the diesel ranges. However, this is all set to change after the American company released some huge news; they have a plan to become a 100% electric and zero-emissions company. To start, two new electric models will be released next year before then introducing a whole new range, of up to 20 vehicles, within the next six years.
In recent times, this seems to have been a theme and GM will be joining Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, and Aston Martin who have all made similar promises. In 2017, we’re in the year of huge changes within the industry but there’s something a little more noteworthy about the announcement from GM. Perhaps because they’re one of the largest manufacturers of vehicles, perhaps because they sold over 10 million units in 2016 alone. Whether it’s tidy urban numbers or huge trucks, they’re now a huge brand with interest all around the planet.
According to Head of Product at GM, Mark Reuss, the company believes all-electric to be the future. What’s more, he noted that the company were already making significant progress towards their goals and they want to lead the way to the ‘future world’. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have an official date of when the company wants to make the switchover and remove all gas- and diesel-powered cars from their range. This being said, we do know that the switch won’t be a universal one like waving a magic wand. Instead, the withdrawals will occur at different times in different locations.
In terms of new vehicles, GM has stated their new range will combine fuel cell-powered vehicles with the classic battery electric cars. In addition to this, the company has noted how their move has been planned with all shareholders in mind. Perhaps the most interesting thing regarding this news is the fuel efficiency requirement changes from the Trump Administration. Despite everything that’s been said, the rest of the world is making progress towards an electric age.
For example, the UK, France, Norway, and the Netherlands have all announced plans to ban diesel and gas vehicle sales in the future. Surprisingly, China, who were behind for many years, has revealed plans to join this group with a similar agreement occurring in India. With China, they are now the largest car market in the world so this will have a huge impact all around the world. In the coming years, it seems as though automakers are going to find it hard to compete on the global scale if they don’t have a selection of electric cars.
With more companies and more car manufacturers making their promises to the world, this is only going to snowball and you would imagine we’re now too far gone to ever go backwards. Returning to GM, they’ve stated their intention to take advantage of the Chinese switch. Previously, they released plans for ten hybrid or electric cars and these are set to arrive in China by 2020. In the summer this year, a two-seater EV was made available in China and it became available for just over $5,000. In 2016, GM had a superb year and actually sold more units in China than at home in the US; 3.6 million compared to 3 million.
How Will It Work?
With the release of this news, it means we’re heading closer to the magic date with every single day that passes. For GM, there’s a couple of big questions that remain but the one we believe should be a priority is how they’re going to make money from the models themselves. According to a recent report, GM actually makes a loss of $9,000 for every single sale of the Chevy Bolt.
If the company is going to succeed with this plan, they’ll almost certainly need to reduce their costs and one factor that’ll help is the reduction in battery prices. In addition to this, they’ll be investing in more efficient motors while also making each car lighter. Although we’ve discovered GM’s foray into China, perhaps this is a ‘must’ instead of simply taking the opportunities that come their way. In order for this strategy to succeed, are GM relying upon success in the world’s biggest market? For the moment, this is all speculation but Mark Reuss believes the next generation is going to be profitable…‘End of story’.
Thanks to an auto industry analyst, Karl Brauer, we know the transition is possible. In a recent interview, Brauer trusted that GM really has been investing heavily, in both time and money, to make this plan work. He believes they could be close to reaching profitability with their models as well as just supplying them on a global scale.
History of GM
If we take a step back down memory lane, the history of GM doesn’t exactly look favorably towards electric mobility. With their invention of the automatic starter towards the beginning of the 1900s, the first wave of electric cars were effectively killed off. Furthermore, they experimented for a long time with battery power in the EV1. Eventually, they recalled all two-seater models from their owners and had them all crushed. Even as we entered the 21st century, Toyota was investing heavily in the Prius hybrid while GM were focusing all their efforts on the Hummer.
However, we can’t deny GM’s efforts in the past decade. After apparently realizing where the future was starting to position itself, they started with the Chevy Volt which was a hybrid-electric model. From here, the Chevy Bolt was created which offered 200 miles for around $30,000. As well as offering a solid model to the market, the huge news with this model was that it beat Tesla’s Model 3 to the market.
In recent years, the company has been researching semi-autonomous vehicles as well as fully-driverless cars. With a recent release, GM added vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability and this was the first time something like this was seen on the US roads. Today, we could write for days regarding their many plans to eliminate congestion, pollution, and traffic deaths. With this in mind, it really is a different company we seem to have on our hands nowadays.
With the fantastic news that GM is going fully electric, perhaps we should leave the last word with Reuss and he says the company can allow us all to get to the future ‘so much faster’. As long as they can make each unit profitable and find the balance between helping the planet and running a business, we don’t doubt him one bit!
Current GM Lineup
So, we don’t quite know what’s going to happen with the existing GM models but we do know they won’t be available for much longer. As the company moves towards electrical options, the numbers of gas and diesel models will slowly dwindle until they just aren't available for sale. What GM models will this affect? Let’s take a look at their current lineup!
In case you were unaware, GM has a number of brands currently which is why they’re able to sell 6.6 million models to the US and China alone. In addition to the well-known names of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac, GM also owns Wuling, Autobaojun, Fawjiefang, Holden, Onstar, and Maven. As an international company, these brands are known within their home regions with the top four being the most popular in the US.
ChevroletCurrently, the Chevrolet models consist of the Spark, Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, Impala, SS Sedan, Camaro, Corvette, Trax, Equinox, Tahoe, Suburban, Traverse, Colorado, and more. In fact, their models go right up to SUVs and vans. As you can see, they have an extensive range which will represent quite a changeover in the next decade as they move to electric models. Of course, Chevrolet already has the Bolt and Volt which perhaps gives them a head-start over many others.
If we use the Impala as an example, there’s a focus on technology with the brand increasingly intent on allowing their customers to connect their mobile phone devices to the vehicle. Starting at just over $27,000, there are various customization options, 305 horsepower, and the ‘Best Large Car for the Money’ prize from US News & World Report.
BuickFor the longest time, Buick has had a focus on luxury and high-quality cars. With models called ‘Regal’ and ‘Lacrosse’, this clearly comes across. However, the prices aren't what you might be accustomed to with the luxury end of the market with the Verano and Encore models both available for just over $20,000. If you finance the vehicle through GM Financial, there’s an opportunity to save large sums of money with the 2017 Buick Enclave Premium down to just over $10,000.
In total, there are eight different models available. Including the five already mentioned, you’ll find the Envision, Enclave and the Cascada. As the only convertible in the range, the Cascada is available in three different molds; Standard, Premium, and Sport Touring. With the latter, the owner can enjoy sport alloy pedals and other ‘sporty’ features.
GMCWith GMC, we have a brand offering crossovers, SUVs, trucks, commercial vehicles, and many more. Perhaps best known for their trucks, these huge beasts start at $20,000 and go all the way up to $55,000 depending on the size and features for which you're searching. With the Sierra 3500 Denali HD, this is the most expensive in the range of trucks and can tow over 23,000 pounds of weight.
If you’re looking for something a little smaller, the SUV range starts with the 2018 Terrain which comes in under $25,000. Within this range, variety is very much a key word because you’ll find models holding five, seven, eight, and nine people. Finally, there are also various options available for commercial vehicles.
CadillacFinally, the fourth major brand under the GM umbrella is Cadillac and this one includes coupes, sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and the ‘V-series’. If we come back to the electric goal of GM, they already have a plug-in hybrid so this is a start while the rest of the vehicles, coming in at between $37,000 and $86,000, will soon become extinct like many before them.
Will GM be able to master the balance between making a profit and charging the right amount for their models? Will they see the all-important success in China? Unfortunately, we can’t answer these questions; the only thing we can do is wait and admire their ambition and vision for the future.