Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, says the transition from internal combustion engines to full electric vehicles will take place over the course of decades.

    In an interview with Bloomberg, she said GM won’t be become a electric-only automaker for at least 20 years.

    Barra stated the company believes “in an all-electric future”, but said the transition will take time because GM is a “full line automaker” with both affordable and luxury brands, and needed to “provide options for the entire marketplace”.

    This not only means catering for the affordable end of the spectrum, but also covering “different use cases”.

    The chief executive called this period of transition the “most exciting” of her 40-year career at the automaker, and said GM was “working so hard to make sure we’re in a leadership position with battery technology”.

    GM is currently preparing a new all-electric platform, which will use be used initially for a line of Cadillac EVs.

    The company is also developing a crossover version of the Bolt electric hatch, a large SUV to be branded as the GMC Hummer EV, and a new electric pickup truck.

    She also said the company was planning to launch an electric van. Currently the company lags far behind rival Ford, as the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana twins date back to 1995.

    Last year it sold just 77,457 Express vans and 24,227 Savanas in the US. That’s well behind the Ford Transit (153,867), but ahead of the Ram ProMaster (56,410) and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (29,757).

    During her interview, Barra seemed to be talking exclusively about the American market.

    GM CEO believes electric won't replace internal combustion until 2040
    Above: Future Cadillac EV

    It’s not clear what her thoughts on Europe and China are because the governments there are more keen on incentivising the uptake of plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles.

    GM is now concentrating primarily on the US, China and Latin American markets. It has sold its Opel and Vauxhall units to the PSA Group, and exited many regions, including Australia, Africa, India, and south-east Asia.

    Derek Fung

    Derek Fung would love to tell you about his multiple degrees, but he's too busy writing up some news right now. In his spare time Derek loves chasing automotive rabbits down the hole. Based in New York, New York, Derek loves to travel and is very much a window not an aisle person.

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