In stark contrast to the global strategy for an all-electric future communicated from the company’s global headquarters in Detroit, GM South America has just suggested that it is open to investing in hybrid technology.
The automaker’s South American subsidiary first suggested it is open to investing in hybrid powertrain technology during the recent AutoData Congress Perspectives 2024, held in Brazil’s São Paulo city. In fact, the latest statements from a senior executive represent a notable change of opinion with respect to the subsidiary’s previous refusal to develop hybrid vehicles during the transition to fully electric models.
“Our goal is electric power for 2035. New technologies may emerge over time and we cannot deny the possibility, from now on, [of having] fuel cell cars, hybrids… I don’t know what the future holds for us in terms of […] scale and competitiveness,” said Vice President of Communications and Government Relations at GM South America, Fábio Rua. “If this future tells us that we need, perhaps, to be a little more open to our spectrum of investment in new technologies, we will be,” he added.
Speaking about the immediate future of GM South America, Fábio Rua announced that the company will soon announce a new investment cycle for their operations in Brazil and suggested that there will be electrified vehicles among the future products to be manufactured in the country. While he reiterated the automaker’s overall goal to exclusively build electric cars by 2035, he said GM’s plan is ambidextrous and includes developing decarbonized technologies along the way to make existing ICE cars more efficient.
As such, GM South America could adopt a strategy similar to that currently executed by General Motors’ two joint ventures in China – SAIC-GM and SAIC-GM-Wuling. Both companies are simultaneously developing both fully electric and hybrid vehicles to serve different customer needs, leaving hybrid technology to maintain entry-level Wuling brand vehicles at more-affordable prices.
This indicates that the idea of GM and its subsidiaries is to develop vehicles with hybrid powertrain technology for emerging markets where fully electric models will continue to be expensive and will take much longer to become viable than in first world countries. This includes important markets such as China, Mexico, Brazil, as well as the rest of Latin American countries served by GM South America operations.