Mark Reuss Says GM Will Turn a Profit From EVs; Doesn’t Know When

Profitability is right around the corner, but so far the sign marking the turn isn’t in sight. That seems to be the gist of comments made by Mark Reuss, General Motors’ executive vice president for product development, who recently claimed his company would be the first automaker to turn a profit selling cheaper electric vehicles.

Right now, the high cost of producing EVs makes it a money-losing proposition for automakers struggling to find an edge in the growing technology war. While Tesla might disagree with Reuss’ insinuation, the dedicated electric automaker has only ever posted a couple of slim quarterly profits, with revenue from its pricey EVs eaten up by expenditures elsewhere.

At a company like GM, piles of truck and SUV-generated cash allows for a model like the Chevrolet Bolt — a low-priced EV that beats the competition in range, but allegedly drains $8,000 to $9,000 from the company with each unit sold. That’s all going to change, said Reuss.

“That’s the mantra inside product development. That’s what all our engineers are all working toward,” Reuss told reporters at the reopening of the historic Durant-Dort Factory One in Flint, Michigan.

The automaker plans to seek EV profitability in two ways. First, by removing all the weight it can from the vehicle, reducing the number of battery cells needed to move the car. Secondly, by increasing production, thus lowering the cost of its in-house battery and motor technology. GM has a goal of selling 10 electrified models in EV-hungry China by 2020.

“We know the customers would like to drive electric cars but are unwilling to pay any more for them,” said Reuss. “That’s why we’re going to be the first company to sell electric vehicles that people can afford at a profit.”

Already, the Bolt sells in Europe under the Opel Ampera-e name, while the range-entended Chevrolet Volt has undergone a Buick makeover for Chinese customers. While the number of electrified GM products is on the rise, Reuss still wouldn’t chance a guess as to when the company might turn a profit on its EVs.