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GM CEO Mary Barra’s EV Push Is Deliberately Slow - Bloomberg
By David Welch

September 20, 2022

Five years ago, General Motors Co. boss Mary Barra was the bold one. She announced a plan to spend $20 billion developing a fleet of electric vehicles—20 models by 2023, she promised—underpinned by a new battery pack the company now calls Ultium. Overnight, investors started to think of GM less as a 20th century relic and more like a heavyweight challenger to Tesla Inc. In the following years, GM twice increased the promised investment, to $35 billion, and by early 2021, its share price had doubled.

In the meantime, GM fell behind key rivals—namely Ford Motor Co., which introduced the Mustang Mach-E in 2019 and, earlier this year, an electric version of its F-150 pickup, the bestselling vehicle in the US. Korea’s Hyundai Motor Corp. and Kia Corp. have come on strong with a pair of EVs priced just over $40,000. And Volkswagen’s release of an ambitious slate of models with its own dedicated EV platform has also started with two models for global markets. Sure, Chevrolet introduced the electric Bolt compact in 2016 and an electric version of its hulking Hummer late last year, but to date Ultium has been slow to show results.

The GM faithful say nothing is wrong, that the company is simply pursuing a more deliberate strategy—that its key building blocks are a dedicated electric vehicle platform and the factories to go with it. Barra’s first Ultium battery plant opened this month, and the second will arrive late next year; now comes the blitz of EVs that GM is counting on to win over consumers. Central to her plan are electric versions of its top seller, the Chevy Silverado pickup, and after that the Equinox, a small SUV. GM will price the electric Equinox at $30,000, saying it will transform EVs from a plaything for the wealthy into an accessible mode of transportation. Hertz has signed on, ordering 175,000 of GM’s different EVs by 2025. “I feel confident that we’re in a leadership position,” Barra says.

In GM’s telling, Ultium is really about changing the way cars are made. Rivals, the company says, largely converted existing models to make EVs, so they were faster to market but will be slower to develop a full fleet. In Ultium, the battery makes up the floor of the vehicle and can be snapped together in various ways like Lego bricks to make anything from compacts to Hummers—and allow the company to halve the time it takes to develop a new model. Forecasters such as Bank of America and LMC Automotive expect GM to take the lead in US electric vehicle sales as soon as 2025 and no later than 2028.

Earlier attempts didn’t yield much success. GM started discussing a new model called the Bolt in 2012 and signed up Korean battery maker LG as a partner. But GM vets were reluctant until then-CEO Dan Akerson ordered them to proceed, appointing an engineer who’d been working in human resources to oversee the effort: Mary Barra. Despite disappointing sales of GM’s previous plug-in models, Akerson found inspiration from Henry Ford, who started working on mass production of cars when American roads were little more than dirt paths. “The Bolt was a dogfight,” Akerson says. “But sometimes you gotta play ahead.”

Continues at link
 

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Interesting read with some of the behind the scenes decision making early on with Ultium. I am surprised to read MB was not on board with it at first.

In GM’s telling, Ultium is really about changing the way cars are made. Rivals, the company says, largely converted existing models to make EVs, so they were faster to market but will be slower to develop a full fleet. In Ultium, the battery makes up the floor of the vehicle and can be snapped together in various ways like Lego bricks to make anything from compacts to Hummers—and allow the company to halve the time it takes to develop a new model.
Hopefully we will see the results of this benefit vs. the manufacturers relying on existing ICE. Definitely a tortoise vs. hare story with GM being the tortoise.
 

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Marketing chief Alan Batey countered that they should be conservative with any promises. With consumers showing scant interest in EVs and Tesla losing almost $2 billion in 2017, the company could more easily pull back if sales failed to take off.
At the end of the meeting, a public-relations director named Ray Wert argued that GM should announce a more ambitious number of models and tell the world that “GM believes in an all-electric future.” Barra’s response: “I’m not sure we do.” :ROFLMAO: At almost the same time, Ammann said, “But we don’t.” The meeting broke up with no conclusion.


Informed, healthy skepticism will serve Mary well. I think she, and others named, are smart to approach this nirvana with extreme wariness. Think Hindenburg and the future of hydrogen airships. Well, on second thought, don't.

Going to the moon in 10 years is one thing. Pushing sweeping civilization-wide new tech by shallow, uninformed bureaucrats, many with impressive records of creating disasters, is another thing. Not exactly the thing to bet the farm on.
 

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Marketing chief Alan Batey countered that they should be conservative with any promises. With consumers showing scant interest in EVs and Tesla losing almost $2 billion in 2017, the company could more easily pull back if sales failed to take off.
At the end of the meeting, a public-relations director named Ray Wert argued that GM should announce a more ambitious number of models and tell the world that “GM believes in an all-electric future.” Barra’s response: “I’m not sure we do.” :ROFLMAO: At almost the same time, Ammann said, “But we don’t.” The meeting broke up with no conclusion.


Informed, healthy skepticism will serve Mary well.
+1
Especially when talking to a GM public-relations dweeb. Barra deserves kudos for not assenting to Mr. Wert's request.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What is Hyundai doing? Are their electrics on a dedicated platform or are they using modified ICE platforms? My guess is dedicated BEV platforms as they've demonstrated how nimble they can be...
 

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Barra’s response: “I’m not sure we do.”

This is ambiguous. The "we" she speaks of may include GM executives who don't believe EVs are their future while she may be one that does.

I don't think you draw any conclusion about her from that statement.
 

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Whenever you’re behind - the standard course of action is to give reasons (excuses) why, such as “we’re going slow” and “we’re being deliberate”.

My father used to say, when everyone else is running - you should walk. And, when everyone else is walking - you should run.
 

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Barra’s response: “I’m not sure we do.”

This is ambiguous. The "we" she speaks of may include GM executives who don't believe EVs are their future while she may be one that does.

I don't think you draw any conclusion about her from that statement.
We? What has she got? a :poop: in her pocket? as the ole rather distasteful saying goes. ;)
 

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GM doesn't strike me as slow, certainly no more slower than all the other "Legacy" automakers. They may have different strategies up front, but they are all landing in the same spot at roughly the same time anyway.
 

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Informed, healthy skepticism will serve Mary well. I think she, and others named, are smart to approach this nirvana with extreme wariness. Think Hindenburg and the future of hydrogen airships. Well, on second thought, don't.

Going to the moon in 10 years is one thing. Pushing sweeping civilization-wide new tech by shallow, uninformed bureaucrats, many with impressive records of creating disasters, is another thing. Not exactly the thing to bet the farm on.
In the first half of 2022 global EV market share is ~8.7% of the automotive market from less than 1% in 2016.

Remind when hydrogen airships where over 8% of the global aerospace market.

"Healthy skepticism" at this point is a euphemism for head in the sand denialism.
 

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If the cost of things like Lithium and nickel have significantly increased, then that means that the cost of batteries has increased significantly and with that the cost of BEVs. No doubt that this is a big issue with GM’s hopes of selling more affordable BEVs - that may require selling a richer model mix, the mid and high level trims for the moment (probably fine with early adopters anyway) until scales of economy take over and bring down costs.
 

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The alternative is she changed her mind over a short period of time. If so, why did she change her mind?
Tesla stopped losing money?
 

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In about 10 days we'll have 3Q sales numbers for Lyriq, Hummer, etc., it's going to be interesting how few/many they've been able to produce. GMC recently stopped taking Hummer orders.

 

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The problem for GM is once it decided to build its own battery, it should have built the battery plants first. Now it has cars designed but no batteries to install. I’m sure the old supply chain issues will be cited as an excuse, but wasn’t the solution obvious from the beginning. On another front GM has said it’s bringing all the EV components in house, including chips like Tesla. (Well they didn’t admit they were copying Tesla, but they are.). On CNBC Jim Cramer thinks this is genius and suggests Ford should copy the strategy immediately.
 

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In about 10 days we'll have 3Q sales numbers for Lyriq, Hummer, etc., it's going to be interesting how few/many they've been able to produce. GMC recently stopped taking Hummer orders.

I'm thinking they'll still be low as it sounds like the plant is just ramping up now. I just tried to find an article on their ramp up, but couldn't find anything.
 
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