Last year, General Motors divulged plans to help lead a charge toward a zero emission future and introduce 20 new pure-electric models to market by 2023. The automaker said it was “optimistic about EVs because (in 2017), automakers sold 1.2 million plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles,” and it has “seen a dramatic increase in customer miles,” travelled in the Volt plug-in hybrid and Bolt EV in recent years.
Even though almost every major automaker in the world has made similar statements to GM, or at least announced plans to develop more electrified vehicles going forward, it’s still not entirely clear what the true demand for EVs is. Former Ford CEO Mark Fields believes there is strong demand for EVs, but that anyone who believes they will rapidly replace internal combustion engine vehicles is in for a wake up call.
Fields also believes that the added development costs of EVs will put automakers at risk if the economy were to crash, and says that EV sales will likely have to be incentivized due to the low natural demand for them.
“They are going to have to first restructure the margins of the business and on top of it you’re going to have to incentivize demand,” the ex Ford CEO said. “If you throw in, during that time period, a recession that’s going to happen at some point, that’s going to put a lot of pressure on the OEMs.”
As for the autonomous vehicle industry, another emerging area GM is betting big on, Fields also says some are in for a wake-up call. He thinks autonomous vehicles will probably only be used in city centers and solely for commercial purposes. Additionally, he said they won’t arrive this year or next year as many believe, with the “back end of next decade,” being much more plausible, he said.
Source: Automotive News Europe