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General Motors to bring back plug-in hybrids as EV market falters
By Olivia Cook // Feb 13, 2024

In 2019, General Motors (GM) became the first major American automaker to announce that it was going "all-in" on producing pure electric vehicles (EVs). Now, the company is making a significant shift back into the plug-in hybrid market.

This move was announced by CEO Mary Barra during the company's recent earnings call on Jan. 30. Before this call, GM was expected to ride on the success of the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the company's first all-electric vehicle launched in 2017 and billed as "America's most affordable EV."

The Chevy Bolt, as it is more popularly known, was described by auto enthusiasts as having the "distinction of beating the Tesla Model 3 to market" – with its tempting starting price at $26,500 – nearly half the average cost of a new EV in June 2023 of $53,438. It also has a spacious interior for a subcompact hatchback and reasonable driving range.

In recent years, however, the model has had battery issues that could cause Bolts to catch fire, which had prompted two recalls by GM and warnings to drivers that they should park their vehicles outside after the battery is charged, reported National Public Radio.

In addition, over the last few months, the automaker announced delays of important new EV programs that should bring more volumes. (Related: HAZARDOUS AIRBAG: General Motors faces recall of 20 million vehicles.)

Record year for hybrid sales in the U.S.

This decision to reverse its direction came as a response to dealer feedback and a record year for hybrid sales in the U.S. in 2023 – indicating "a strong consumer demand for vehicles that offer a balance between electric and gas-powered engines" – as more and more EV owners found themselves too put off by range and charging concerns to going to fully battery-driven vehicles.

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GM said it "remains committed to its goal of eliminating tailpipe emissions from light-duty vehicles by 2035" but sees plug-in hybrids as a critical step in the interim.

"Our forward plans include bringing our plug-in hybrid technology to select vehicles in North America. Let me be clear, GM remains committed to eliminating tailpipe emissions from our light-duty vehicles by 2035. But in the interim, deploying plug-in technology in strategic segments will deliver some of the environmental benefits of EVs as the nation continues to build its charging infrastructure. We are timing the launches to help us comply with the more stringent fuel economy and tailpipe emission standards that are being proposed," Barra said.

She didn’t elaborate on the plan regarding volumes or specific models to receive a plug-in option, but her comment about the technology existing on specific programs in other markets, especially China, could point to using the same models.

GM spokesperson Phil Lienert told Inside EVs: "We are timing the launches to help us comply with the more stringent fuel economy and tailpipe emissions standards that are being proposed and we plan to deliver the program in a capital and cost-efficient way because the technology is already in production in other markets. We will have more to share about this down the road."

Visit RoboCars.news for more stories about the EV market.

Watch the following video about General Motors reporting that roughly 95,000 vehicles were made without certain chips.

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More related stories:

Only half of Ford's dealers agreed to sell electric vehicles in 2024.

Automakers cut programs and reassess future plans for EV production as consumer demand plummets.

Automakers are abandoning plans to mass-produce EVs: People are finally seeing reality, says Toyota chairman.

FreedomWorks economist predicts EVs will be the auto industry's "NEXT BIG FLOP."

Automaker bigwigs admit EV sales are in jeopardy.

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