Barra Says GM Expects to Sell a Million EVs a Year, Soon

GM, like many other automakers, is planning big on EV sales. Just how many sales a year wasn’t exactly clear. But now CEO Mary Barra has shed a bit of light on the company’s electric sales plans.

“There was a point in time where we were everywhere for everyone with everything,” Barra said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We had to say, ‘OK, where are we deploying capital that’s not generating appropriate returns?’ Once you start to believe in the science of global warming and look at the regulatory environment around the world, it becomes pretty clear that to win in the future, you’ve got to win with electric and driverless vehicles,” she said. “This is what we really believe is the future of transportation.”

While that’s probably not exactly news to anyone who has spent more than five minutes on The Weather Channel of late, here’s something a bit more concrete. Barra told Bloomberg that GM will sell a million vehicles a year. In the very near future, and they’ll do it with what the report describes as “an economy-of-scale edge that Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. would envy.”

Selling a million Bolt EVs might not be great for the company, which is estimated to lose about $9,000 per Bolt sold. But costs are coming down, and they continue to come down with increased volume. When the Volt PHEV arrived in 2010, it was generally agreed that a battery pack was $1,000 per kWh. Today that’s around $200 and is expected to hit $50 by 2025. GM President Mark Reuss told Bloomberg that the company expects that $100 per kWh will let GM turn a profit on EVs. And when they’ll get competitive with gas cars on price.

Barra’s million-vehicle figure represents a big volume of vehicles for GM. The company sold just under 3,000,000 in the US in 2018, and almost 8.4 million globally. It represents billions of dollars and will require major investments in the assembly of batteries and of new-style vehicles in order to achieve. Which is just part of why the current UAW strike is such a big deal for the automaker.