While plug-in hybrids and full-on electric vehicles remain a niche market, product development head Mary Barra informed the media today that General Motors intends to stay planted in the segment, rather than building a conventional hybrid like the Toyota Prius. A pretty big gamble, considering the affordability and popularity of Toyota’s hybrid halo car.
The bet is that plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles will become more important in the marketplace going forward. For that to happen, the price, cost of ownership and overall ease of use will have to surpass that of a traditional hybrid vehicle. Flanking the hybrid segment also happens to be the GM eAssist models, which seem to make a lot of sense in vehicles like the Buick LaCrosse eAssist. In short, GM appears to be targeting above and below the hybrid segment, rather than attacking it head-on.
Barra and company are hopeful enough that she anticipates General Motors will be able to move as much as 500,000 vehicles utilizing some form of battery power in 2017, just five years from now. If the vehicles can be made affordable by then, it’s totally possible.