The automotive landscape was a tad different in 2012. Gas prices has surged to the $4, and even $5 per gallon mark, and the race was on to introduce alternative-propulsion vehicles, mainly plug-in electric vehicles. General Motors jumped on that bandwagon with a major push, allowing the Chevrolet Volt to find its niche.
Three years later, Chevrolet Volt sales have slumped dramatically, gas prices have tumbled and a surge of competitors have entered the plug-in arena. This leads GM to expect its goal to have 500,000 electric cars on the road by 2017 to fall short.
The news comes from the The Detroit News who is quick to point out only 180,834 GM-branded electric-powered vehicles are currently roaming American roads. Although that’s up from the 153,034 in 2013, consumer preference has once again shifted to larger vehicles with the availability of cheaper gas.
GM counts any vehicle powered by electricity in the slightest towards the goal, set by then head of global product development Mary Barra. This means eAssist models, fully electric vehicles and PHEVs are all taken into account.
General Motors stated the following in their yearly sustainability report saying:
For our commitment to electrification, our forecasted outlook currently projects us, along with the broader automotive industry, falling short of expectations for 2017. GM is committed to electrification and our award-winning eAssist, extended-range electric vehicle and battery electric vehicle offerings, but consumer demand for these vehicles has not kept up with our initial projections.
The news also falls even shorter of President Obama’s goal to have 1 million electric vehicles on American roads by this year.
Even with lower gas prices and a shift in consumer preference, GM is investing billions in electrification. The 2016 Chevrolet Volt will offer an increased purely electric range, while ringing in some $1,200 less expensive, and GM has already committed to producing the full-electric Chevrolet Bolt concept. GM has stated a price point of $30,000 after federal incentives is being targeted for the Bolt.
At the same time, to counter consumer’s continued love affair with internal combustion, GM has also invested heavily in making petrol engines more efficient, along with decreasing vehicle mass through the use of high-strength steel, carbon fiber and aluminum, something previewed in the 2016 Cadillac CT6. The company says its vehicles could be up to 15 percent lighter than comparable vehicles on the road using efficient design and material mix.
GM has outlined a goal of having eight vehicles with a 40 mpg rating by 2017, up from six currently.