Time to be honest here.
Despite the billions of dollars automakers are currently investing in all aspects of electric vehicle development and associated technologies, the reality is that it's going to take time for a complete and total transition away from combustion engine vehicles. How long, exactly? It's impossible to predict an accurate number, but General Motors CEO Mary Barra has just provided what appears to be the most honest time frame assessment to date.
Speaking to Bloomberg Television's "Leadership Live With David Rubenstein," via Automotive News, Barra made clear American car owners will, eventually, go all-electric. "We believe the transition will happen over time," she said. Asked specifically if 20 years was a realistic time frame, she said "It will happen in a little bit longer period, but it will happen."
Tesla may be leading the electric vehicle charge at the moment, but GM soon won't be too far behind. Despite only selling one EV at the moment, the Chevy Bolt, it currently has more than 20 EVs in various stages of development. The GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq are expected to debut in the very near future.
GM has also made a major investment in its self-driving unit called Cruise. Based in Detroit, GM is pumping about $1 billion annually into autonomous driving R&D. Plans for Cruise to have a ride-hailing service have been canceled, but there's still a plan to launch an autonomous taxi service, and it'll arrive sooner than you might think, according to Barra.
"I definitely think it will happen within the next five years. Our Cruise team is continuing to develop technology so it's safer than the human driver." Barra's 20-year time frame towards an all-EV society sounds about right, especially given that EV sales make up a very small percentage of overall new vehicle sales in not only the US but the world at large. Of course, this will change once new EVs debut and range anxiety is completely erased by building a vast network of charging stations.
The switch to EVs is not only about offering viable products and related systems, but it's also cultural because generations have known nothing but ICE vehicles.