GM’s gasoline vehicles get updates to fund EV push

Industry

General Motors, once known for big, gas-guzzling trucks, will show its commitment to electric vehicles over the next few years.

In recent months, GM has plotted a road map that begins its transformation into a profitable EV maker. The company has teased plans for 12 EVs across its four U.S. brands and shared details on some of the vehicles coming to market soon, including the Cadillac Lyriq, the GMC Hummer pickup and SUV and a crossover version of the Chevrolet Bolt. The reveals are just the “tip of the spear,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in March.

Still, internal-combustion engines won’t disappear anytime soon, and GM’s EV dreams won’t become a reality overnight, said Stephanie Brinley, an IHS Markit analyst. GM is “straddling some demand for EVs, but there is still demand for ICE vehicles that hasn’t slowed down,” she said.

The transition to EVs will be gradual, funded by the lucrative gasoline vehicles on sale today. GM also faces a new challenge as it rolls out its EV strategy: the potential for a prolonged period of depressed sales industrywide brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

After a two-month production halt this spring, GM put some planned face-lifts on the back burner. Chevy has said the Equinox and Traverse freshenings are postponed to the 2022 model year, and updates to the Blazer also were pushed back. Forecasting firm LMC Automotive said that GM has delayed a freshening of the Buick Enclave to the 2022 model year. A freshening of the Cadillac XT4 was pushed to the 2023 model year.

As long as the pandemic doesn’t severely disrupt manufacturing again, production will continue to gain speed throughout 2021 with a Buick Envision redesign and freshenings of GM’s midsize pickups and most of its highest-volume crossovers.

Investments in GM’s internal-combustion vehicles will help fund the company’s EV-based future, executives have said. GM plans to launch 20 EVs globally by 2023, and Barra has said she expects GM’s EV sales to take off in the next several years.

Still, she added, the market for internal-combustion vehicles will remain bigger for years to come.

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