GM is committed to a future with zero emissions, and electrification is the key to making that aspiration a reality. As we advance electric vehicle (EV) affordability and range, we believe the tipping point for mainstream EV adoption is approaching. We’re committed to leading this charge with a mission to deliver desirable, attainable and profitable vehicles with over 300 miles of range.
That commitment is seen in the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is capable of driving an EPA-estimated 238 miles on a single charge and sold at an affordable price. But the Chevrolet Bolt EV is more than just a car. It’s a platform that has helped us see into the future and is informing the development of new generations of EVs. These vehicles will be the first of more than 20 new zero-emissions vehicles that we plan to launch in global markets by 2023.
Our portfolio will be built on an all-new modular EV platform with agile battery technology. This will allow us to create a building block approach that meets changing customer demands and supports multiple drive configurations across geographic regions at lower costs. That’s important in driving towards a future that is all-electric and profitable.
The continued development of our EV portfolio rests upon 20 years of electrification knowledge and experience and the investment of billions in research and development. Today, we estimate that about half of our more than 9,300-member Global Propulsion Systems engineering workforce is involved with alternative or electrified propulsion. We also benefit from one of the largest battery development labs in the world, as well as our own battery manufacturing facilities.
Fuel cell technology remains a component of our overall electrification strategy. It offers a solution that can scale to larger vehicles, such as trucks that have heavy payload requirements and operate over longer distances. GM has worked on fuel cells since their inception more than 50 years ago, and today is among the patent leaders in the field.
Creating a zero-emissions future requires accelerating acceptance of electric vehicles for everyday use. In particular, our commitment to electrification extends beyond vehicles to include the development of a national EV charging infrastructure, the lack of which is a significant customer pain point today. For the past decade, GM has been driving partnerships and collaborative efforts across a vast network of stakeholders to help stimulate the EV market. These efforts include promoting and supporting public policy enablers for EVs, harmonized industry standards, electrician training programs, advocacy for supportive state policies, utility engagement, sustainable infrastructure solutions and EV awareness-building campaigns. As an example, we have worked with more than 50 utility partners over the past decade to promote EV charging infrastructure. GM is committed to playing a constant and leading role in encouraging all stakeholders to do their part to energize the EV market.
In tandem with increased electrification of vehicles is the introduction of cars with autonomous capabilities. Our strategies for these two technologies are inextricably linked, starting with our belief that all AVs must be EVs. From an engineering standpoint, autonomous technology can be integrated into an EV more easily than in a gas-powered or hybrid vehicle. Advanced automation will enable mobility for more people. And, autonomous vehicles that are electric and connected will offset potential issues should more vehicles be on the road for some period of time. Deploying the two technologies on new vehicles will increase acceptance of both electrification and automation—and help GM make progress toward our goals of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion all at once.
Autonomous Bolt EV
EVs are GM’s future. As we move closer to our vision of an all-electric portfolio, we also are committed in the nearer term to improving the efficiency of vehicles that rely on the internal combustion engine. Our Efficient Fundamentals strategy supports this effort through continual improvements in vehicle engine and transmission efficiency, and weight. These simple improvements eliminate material use in manufacturing, while reducing fuel use and costs for customers.
A continued focus on Efficient Fundamentals is especially important during times of sustained lower fuel prices, which change the dynamics of consumer purchasing behavior. During such times, it can be more challenging to increase sales of fuel-efficient models and gain broad market acceptance of higher-cost, advanced fuel-saving technologies such as EVs. Lower gasoline prices also translate into a longer payback period for customers who often have paid a premium for advanced technologies. As a full-line automotive manufacturer, our portfolio ranges from compact vehicles that meet urban requirements to powerful full-size trucks that meet customer utility needs, and GM is dedicated to making new levels of efficiency possible for even the largest conventional vehicles.
On a global basis, fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions remain top-of-mind priorities for the transportation sector and apply to all GM products globally. Emission requirements have become more stringent as a result of lower emissions standards and new on-board diagnostic requirements, which have come into force in many markets around the world, driven by policy requirements such as air quality, energy security and climate change.
The same transformative changes we’re responding to as a company also have implications for regulations like the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the United States. For example, when the current CAFE standards were finalized in 2012, shared mobility was in its earliest stages, and autonomous vehicles did not even exist. We want to be sure that the regulations accurately account for the current and likely future state of our industry. In addition, we have recommended that EV incentives continue and that regulations be harmonized between NHTSA and the EPA, working toward a single national standard. Common standards will allow us to advance innovation today and better prepare for the future.
China implemented the China 5 emission standard nationwide in 2017, which is more stringent than the previous program at every level. The next round of standards, known as China 6, may roll out in some cities as early as 2019. China 6 combines elements of both European and U.S. standards, including stronger emission requirements and extended time and mileage periods over which manufacturers are responsible for a vehicle's emission performance. We welcomed these changes—in fact, GM gave input as the new standards were being drafted, sharing best practices from our experiences in North America. Another important regulation in China is the New Energy Vehicle (NEV) mandate, which allows manufacturers of passenger cars to earn credits for producing a certain volume of hybrid, battery electric and fuel cell vehicles. This policy, combined with consumer subsidies for purchasing NEVs, has made China an important market for our electrification solutions.
The most effective path toward that future is regulation with one set of standards that enables us to optimize innovation efforts. Regulation also should factor in industry developments that have occurred since the policy went into effect, namely autonomous EVs and the advent of new business models that move away from the concept of one vehicle, one owner. Because broad consumer acceptance of EVs is critical, we also support continued incentives to make EVs more affordable for more customers.
Many countries around the world are adopting regulatory standards similar to either those of the U.S., which are based on a footprint metric or size of the vehicle, or those of the EU, which are weight-based. In many cases, there are regulatory inconsistencies when fuel-saving solutions under one system do not translate to another. Though harmonized standards among countries are in the best interests of our customers and the environment, we realize development and acceptance can take years. That’s why we favor mutual recognition agreements, a practice by which two or more markets agree to recognize each other’s standards and eliminate costly and nonbeneficial redundancies.
Increasingly stringent regulations related to mobile CO2 emissions and fuel economy are common throughout key business regions in the world.
Source: GM Public Policy
We are also focused on emerging markets, where we expect to realize a significant amount of business growth in coming years. In these markets, we want to find affordable product solutions for our customers, who generally have lower average household incomes, while meeting fuel economy mandates and regulations that are often aligned with those of more developed countries.
Within GM, we have institutionalized extensive governance processes that predict, plan, measure and assess our fleet’s fuel economy and emissions performance according to established government test procedures on a dynamic and country-by-country basis. We dedicate significant resources and use a complex algorithm to calculate the fuel economy of dozens of models sold across developed markets with increasingly stringent regulations, as well as emerging markets that are adopting similar regulations at a rapid pace. These calculations and the subsequent plans around them are an intrinsic part of our business that impacts nearly every operational function, from product development through delivery, on a daily basis.