After nearly a century of building vehicles powered by fossil fuels, General Motors — one of the world’s largest automakers — announced Monday that the end of GM producing internal combustion engines is fast approaching.
The acceleration to an all-electric future will begin almost immediately, with GM releasing two new electric models next year and an additional 18 by 2023.
At a media event at GM’s technical campus in Warren, Mich., on Monday, Mark Reuss, the company’s chief of global product development, said the transition will take time, but the course has been set.
“General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Reuss said. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.”
Reuss avoided naming the year when the auto giant will cease producing gas and diesel vehicles, noting that the company is too large to make such an estimate, according to USA Today.
GM finished 2016 as the world’s third-largest auto-seller, breaking previous company records with 10 million vehicles sold, the company said in a news release.
The automaker said that arriving at a “zero emissions future” will require a two-pronged approach: battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.
At Monday’s event, Fast Company reported, officials unveiled three concepts for reporters: “a sporty crossover, a larger wagon or SUV and a tall, boxy pod car that looked like a people-mover for cities.”
GM also introduced a fuel-cell-powered heavy-duty truck with two electric motors known as Surus, or “silent utility rover universal superstructure.”
GM’s foray into the electric marketplace has already resulted in resounding success, with the Chevrolet Bolt being named Motor Trend’s 2017 Car of the Year and the 2017 North American Car of the Year. The Bolt boasts a 240-mile battery range on a single charge and costs $37,500 before tax incentives. That range places the vehicle well above the Nissan Leaf (up to 107 miles on a single charge) and slightly above Tesla’s Model 3 (up to 220 miles on a single charge for a standard battery).
As GM commits to electric innovation, the company will compete in an increasingly crowded marketplace. In recent months, Tesla unveiled the company’s first mass market electric vehicle, joining companies such as Ford, Volvo, Nissan, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover, all of whom are vying for market space.
On Monday, Ford announced plans to create a group known as “Team Edison” that is to be tasked with developing fully electric cars. Sherif Marakby, Ford’s head of electrification and autonomous vehicles, told Automotive News that the company is on pace to produce 13 electrified vehicles over the next five years.
“We see an inflection point in the major markets toward battery electric vehicles,” Marakby said. “We feel it’s important to have a cross-functional team all the way from defining the strategy plans and implementation to advanced marketing.”