In a change of strategy, American automotive giant General Motors will roll out plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) in an attempt to meet both federal regulations and consumer demand.

    GM CEO Mary Barra announced the plans during a conference call with investors and analysts on Tuesday.

    Previously, GM had announced it would move all of its product lineup from internal combustion engines to battery-electric power by 2035, skipping hybrids and PHEVs in the process.

    Ms Barra didn’t detail how the American product lineup would change, only that ‘select’ models will be rolled out with a PHEV option in the coming year.

    “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 environment or environmental benefits of EVs as the nation continues to build this charging infrastructure,” said Ms Barra during the investor call.

    “We are timing the launches to help us comply with the more stringent fuel economy and tailpipe emission 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.”

    GM has also previously announced the company as a whole will be carbon neutral by 2040.

    In 2018, GM president Mark Reuss said the company wouldn’t invest in hybrids and would instead place its focus on electric vehicles (EVs).

    GM is responding to increased demand for hybrid vehicles, with CFO Paul Jacobson saying, “We know the EV market is not going to grow linearly… We are prepared to flex between ICE and EV production.”

    Not only is EV demand softening in the US, GM has also struggled to ramp up EV production.

    It recently paused sales of its new Chevrolet Blazer EV to resolve issues with its software, and abandoned its goal of reaching 400,000 EVs built in North America by mid-2024.

    Nevertheless, Ms Barra also confirmed at this week’s investor call its EV arm should become “variable profit-positive in the second half of the year”.

    The company had previously flagged its EV arm would become profitable by 2025.

    While GM has offered PHEVs in China and is set to introduce a plug-in version of its new Chevrolet Equinox mid-sized SUV there, it doesn’t have any in North America.

    It discontinued the Chevrolet Volt PHEV in 2019 after two generations, pivoting to the electric Bolt instead.

    It also briefly offered a plug-in hybrid version of its Cadillac CT6 flagship luxury sedan, plus a shapelier cousin to the Volt called the Cadillac ELR. Neither were big sellers.

    GM has been revealing more and more vehicles on what it calls its Ultium dedicated electric platform.

    The Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV are already on sale, and will soon be joined by vehicles like the Chevrolet Silverado EV and Equinox EV and GMC Sierra EV. The popular Chevrolet Bolt will also move to Ultium underpinnings.

    GM signed a deal with Australian mining company, Element 25, last year to source manganese concentrate needed for the production of EV batteries from its Western Australian source.

    Eilidh McNaughton
    Eilidh McNaughton is a Contributor at CarExpert.
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