GM voices commitment to an all-electric future with “zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion”

CNBC Today, 8 March 2018

General Motors CEO Mary Barra is wrapping up a major speech where she’s breaking some news that they are increasing production of their all electric Bolt. Remember, they have talked about an all electric world. We had a chance to sit down with Mary Barra.

Barra: For GM, we source about 90% of our steel and the majority of our aluminum from the US.

Why did you bring an EV to an oil and gas conference?

Barra: I think it is an energy conference. And I think we have to work together.  I think we have to work together to find the right solutions. But, GM believes in an all electric future. We’re working toward a goal with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. And we’ve got to work together to create the infrastructure for us to have the products to drive down the costs down. But I think it’s important for the globe.

I think it’s going to happen more quickly than decades. We’re working with every new vehicle to make those (ICE) vehicles more fuel efficient, to use technology so they can be, you know, more fuel efficient, better for the environment, but when you look at the growth, we’ve announced we’ll have more than 20 EVs by 2023. And when you look at places like China where there is a portion that’s regulatory driven and the other thing i looked at, i think, is a really important data point is whether you’ re talking about the Chevrolet Volt or the Chevrolet Volt EV., those are some our most satisfied customers. They love that vehicle. So as more people recognize we have the right range, understand that we have a charging infrastructure so they don’t think they are going to be stranded.

Sullivan: Yeah, and I think you’re making news by saying increased production of the volt.

Barra: yes. Absolutely. We’re really excited about it. We had really strong feedback from customers on the Chevrolet Volt EV. And so we are announcing that we will be increasing production.

It’s being done at the Lake Orion plant which is just north of Detroit. That will mean additional jobs.

For charging, I don’t have anything to announce today, but we’re working on potential partnerships and also on what we need to do. We believe the infrastructure piece of it is very important. But a lot of people don’t realize there are already 17,000 public charging stations in the US.

I think we all have to work together to pay for it. I don’t think it’s one single answer. I think there will be multiple solutions and I think everybody’s got to play a role.

Sullivan: I saw a pretty amazing amazing stat. Which is i believe and correct me if I’m right. What have you learned? I know you’re collecting data constantly, right?

Barra: Absolutely. And what we are learning is that the EV customer loves their vehicle. They love the fact that they can — many of them charge at home or they’re find places to charge while they are at work. They’re recognizing and I think its 80% of people, their commute, their travel is less than 25 miles. They are getting to a point where they are always on electric power. If it is a hybrid like the Chevrolet Volt or on the EV, of course/ and so they are recognizing that they are not giving anything up. And the other part is, it’s fun to drive.

Sullivan: a lot of torque.

Barra: Exactly! That torque is right there.

Sullivan: no combustion lag.

Barra: so, they’re fun.

Sullivan:  What is the car of the future – you said an all electric future. Will it have a little gas engine just in case, maybe as a kind of alternator? How will it look?

Barra: We see an all electric future. So, you know, we have the Volt that has both but going forward we see pure electric vehicles.

Sullivan: You know, we, as you noted we are at an energy conference. I said oil and gas, they’re going to get mad. But you know, it means if everyone is rolling around in an EV, we’re going to need to produce a lot more power in this country. Do you worry we won’t have the needed investments in the energy grid and the infrastructure to add all the power so I can plug in my car at home?

Barra: Well and we’ve worked with a lot of energy companies on the issue, because we need to make sure and we can do it in a cost-effective way and also that it’s clean power.

Sullivan: Will we own cars in the future? Will— if somebody has a 5-year-old, will that 5-year-old when he or she grows up will they own a car? Or will they just share a fleet of GM electric vehicles?

Barra: Well, i hope they do. But I think what you’re going to see as we move forward, we already have the book by Cadillac where we’re offering different models for people. So if you put the customer in the center and you understand their usecase we can provide almost an unlimited amount of solutions to make their transportation needs as efficient as possible. And that’s what we are doing at GM.