DETROIT—With dozens of electric vehicles under development, electric motor and battery manufacturing in-house and the partnerships needed for sprawling charging networks in place, General Motors Co. isn't just experimenting with EVs anymore. Its EV business is all-encompassing.
GM intends to leap ahead of competitors that were quicker to get serious about electrification by flooding the market with profitable, long-range models. The auto maker is pledging $20 billion toward electric and autonomous vehicle programs through 2025, and said its battery costs soon will fall below $100 per kilowatt-hour, the threshold widely seen as making EVs competitive with internal-combustion vehicles.
As a result, GM says its coming EVs will be profitable, something virtually no auto maker has been able to achieve. The company projects its EV sales in North America and China combined will reach 1 million a year by the middle of the decade, and executives say they still can meet demand even if it significantly exceeds their forecasts. GM says its EV business could even match the scope of its lucrative full-size pickup and SUV lines.
"This isn't 10 years away. It's not five years away. It's next year and the year after and the year after," GM President Mark Reuss said. "I don't think anybody has a gun that's loaded like this."
The 11 EVs that GM showed to reporters and analysts the week of March 1—no photos were permitted or released— are "just the tip" of what's to come, CEO Mary Barra said.
Auto makers typically are tight-lipped about future product, but executives decided it was time to illustrate the breadth of the company's EV strategy to gain credibility.
GM argues that, compared with Tesla and other rivals viewed as having an advantage today, lower battery costs and a wider variety of electric options will put it in the lead. GM has been building electric motors for many years, going back to the EV1 in 1996, and can leverage that expertise to control and scale production as needed, executives said.
"What we're talking about is going across all of our brands, all of the different segments to give people choice," Barra said. "And we think we can grow very, very quickly."
EV systems are much less complex than internal-combustion powertrain combinations. The auto maker plans 19 battery and drive-unit configurations to start, compared with 550 internal-combustion powertrain options today.
GM is designing its electric motors and developing its battery chemistry in-house. Its proprietary Ultium batteries, which it plans to make through a $2.3 billion joint venture with LG Chem, will allow for a driving range of up to 400 miles on a full charge. That's about 50 percent more than the 259-mile range for the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt.