Mary Barra aims to smash competitors with seven Ultium-based EVs this year.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced this past week the automaker intends to launch seven Ultium-based all-electric vehicles this year, making it a leader in EV launches amongst legacy OEMs. Speaking at the Wolfe Global Auto, Auto Tech, and Auto Consumer Conference, Barra, alongside CFO Paul Jacobson, confirmed that by the end of this year, those new EVs will all be on sale.
They include the following: Chevy Blazer EV, Equinox EV, Silverado EV, Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummer EV pickup and SUV, and the Bright drop electric van.
The Chevy Bolt EV and EUV will also remain available, though they're not Ultium-based. "We are different from the rest of the traditional OEMs, and this is our really going to be our year to demonstrate it," she told her audience.
Barra has been leading the automaker's transformation into a technology company and one of her main goals is to overtake Tesla in EV sales. That won't happen this year, she fully acknowledged, but the course has been set. She further emphasized GM's competitiveness against legacy OEMs, such as Ford, thanks to the highly flexible Ultium architecture.
Presently, GM is funding its EV expansion with sales of pickup trucks and SUVs, all of which have combustion engines. There is a certain irony to that but they have solid profit margins, unlike EVs at present. GM intends to change that.
"[Are] EVs a good business? The answer is yes," Barra said, per the Detroit Free Press. "But we see it as growth in the interim. The fact that we have the highest customer loyalty, we think getting these customers early will put us in an advantageous position to maintain a stronger share as we go to all EVs."
Ideally, a 20% profit margin per vehicle sold is the ideal goal for automakers. That won't happen right away for GM for one key reason: battery costs. "We aren't anywhere near where we think we can get the cost of the battery cell down. So we're going to keep driving that." At present, GM is losing money on EVs.
Securing battery suppliers is vital and GM's partnership with LG Energy Solution and its in-house battery development will definitely help achieve that goal. Barra said GM is currently achieving 8% to 10% profit margins and will "continue to work battery costs down, drive the efficiencies, leverage Ultium."
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