Views from President on GM re:what's holding up EVs

Views from President on GM re:what's holding up EVs

Just read a short article on three things holding up converting to EVs. My view: spoken from someone who hasn't owned an EV and seriously wrong.

He claims three items need to improve before lots of people will buy EVs in the US: range, number of public charging stations, and cost. I have a LR M3. Range is never an issue in daily driving. It only comes up in long trips, like the one I did from Washington, DC, to Nashville. 1,613 miles round trip. Hopping from one supercharger to the next was easy. Except the trip probably took one hour extra each way. More than 90 percent of my charging has been at home, overnight. No stops at gas stations. No quest to find cheap gas. No standing on line at Costco for cheap gas. Even without a M3, range is not a daily problem. Ever.

Public charging stations. There are plenty. Only need them for long trips. But I do plug in at my local grocery story. Because it has free charging while you shop. Yesterday all five chargers were full when I was there. I have never had to wait in line at a supercharger, though. That should be eliminated when V3 chargers come on line throughout the system. Seventy-sever percent of all Americans line in a house and could install a 240 volt charging circuit just like me. So 3/4 of all Americans really don't need more public charging systems.

Finally cost. While I agree that electric cars are more expensive to buy initially, they are not if you use life cycle costing.

So I need to ask myself, why would the President of GM write this piece? He's not dumb or uninformed. I conclude that he's just trying to sell more ICE cars until GM can push out EVs.

Joshan | 25 November 2019

common sense, why would he talk up something that they cannot supply to the consumer. He is not being honest, he is trying to sell as many GMs as possible.

raqball | 25 November 2019

Submitted by roger.klurfeld on November 25, 2019
He claims three items need to improve before lots of people will buy EVs in the US: range, number of public charging stations, and cost.
For non Tesla's he is not wrong...

If others want to compete they'll need to spend $$$$$$$$$$$$$ on fast charge locations across the US, their range needs to increase and there really is no reason that a Volt should cost as much as a Tesla....

So if he is speaking about EV's in general he is not wrong as long as he excludes Tesla as they have all 3 of those covered..

mazers | 25 November 2019

Seems like he's speaking only of GM's EVs. Tesla has them covered! LOL

Tuning In | 25 November 2019

The ICE manufacturers spent a lot of effort perpetuating range anxiety and now they are claiming that EV adoption based on surveys is hindered due to the lack of range...

CharleyBC | 25 November 2019

He seems to be really saying, "here are three things we at GM have not adequately addressed to succeed in this marketplace." And with the Bolt (whatever you may think of it), they are ahead of many others.

dmastro | 25 November 2019

You're all looking looking at this from the perspective of a Tesla enthusiast. We're a relatively small group. I think the mass public still generally holds the concerns expressed by GM.

Range - For me, range on a single charge (LR AWD) is not an issue, overall range for a road trip is. I don't want to have to stop every 200-250 miles for 30-45 minutes to charge. I've used a Supercharger twice in the nearly year and a half that I've owned the car, because I don't want to be stuck somewhere while it's charging.

Public charging stations - available but definitely not as ubiquitous as gas stations yet.

Cost - EV is still more expensive on initial acquisition. Although life cycle cost is absolutely reduced in an EV, there are many people who simply can't afford the initial purchase. And many people who don't evaluate total life cycle... they just want to know what their payment will be.

SamO | 25 November 2019

Tesla enthusiasts are most of the world. They just don’t have access to the car yet.

Model 3 cost much less than a comparable car (BMW 3) and less than a Camry.

Superchargers are ubiquitous and enable easy travel anywhere. I can drive 1300 miles in a day by myself, which is more than most can get in a gas car as a team.

@CharleyBC has it right. GM has definitely identified their weaknesses. They offer a crappy shitbox Bolt that they’d normally sell for $13,000. They have zero charging resources and none coming.

It’s like GM doesn’t want to admit that there is a new sheriff in town, and his name is Tesla.


bjrosen | 25 November 2019

He missed the two most important things, you have to build a car that people want to buy, and the manufacturer has to want to sell it. GM knows how to build an electric car, the Bolt has good range and good efficiency. But aside from the drivetrain they half-assed the rest of the car. If you get into a Bolt your reaction is that it looks cheap, it doesn't feel like a $40K car it feels like a $20K car. I have a Volt which I bought in 2016. Chevy did a brilliant job on the Volt, it's the only plugin with decent electric range and a long range range extender, everybody else has an unusably small electric range, typically 25 miles or less (I'm looking at you Toyota), or an underpowered range extender with a tiny tank, i.e. the I3 Rex. The Volt performs really well on it's electric motors, on streets and backroads I like it just as much as my Model 3, and it's decent looking. Chevy sold enough of them that GM exhausted the Federal tax credit only one quarter later than Tesla. The difference between the Volt and the Bolt is the Volt was designed in the US by the engineering department without interference from GM's bean counters. The Bolt was designed in Korea not the US, which means that GM's primary objective was to spend as little as they could developing the car and they didn't give a fig if it would be something that an American would want to buy. The seats are too narrow for American asses and the overall appearance is just cheap. While they put in a decent sized battery which gives it 259 miles of range, they cheaped out on the charger, the Bolt has a lousy 50KW charger which they haven't fixed for the 2020 model year. The Bolt sells well against the other half-assed cars but the Model 3 outsells it 15 to 1. The reason for the massive disparity comes down to one thing, Tesla designed a car that's worth the money, Chevy didn't. The Bolt and the Model 3 SR+ are similarly priced, the Bolt has longer range than the SR+, but if you look at them and sit in them and drive them the Model 3 feels like a bargain at $40K, it's in the same class as a low end BMW, the Bolt feels like a ripoff at $40K, it looks like the cheap Korean car that it is. The other difference is that the Model 3 is available in the trims that people really want. The AWD Model 3 is only $50K, that's want an AWD sports sedan costs, there is no price premium over the ICE equivalent. The Bolt has no AWD option let alone a performance option, the FWD version is it. If GM had wanted to they could have built a Model 3 or Model Y competitor, they have the technology, but it didn't occur to them to do that.

Effopec | 25 November 2019

I agree that those are peoples impressions of why an EV would never work, but not really an issue in the end. My brother was in the market for a new car, I told him he should get a Tesla and he explained that he didn't think he could use one as his only car. I know the type of driving he does. He definitely could get by with a Tesla. Probably not any other EV at this time, but a Tesla would work fine for his needs. To me the only real reason that someone couldn't get by with a Tesla is if they have no charging capability either at home or work, and no nearby supercharger. In that case I could see how it would be quite inconvenient. Once more apartment complexes get chargers plus a higher number at restaurants, grocery stores, etc then that issue is greatly reduced also.

roger.klurfeld | 25 November 2019

My point is that there may be a lot of people considering buying an EV who will read what the President of GM says, and believe what he is saying and buy another ICE car. The average person in the US drives less than 40 miles a day. What EV cannot satisfy that need? Of course there are outliers. But for the 77% of Americans who live in houses and can install a 240 volt line, range and public charging are not an issue. Not in 95% of their lives.

texxx | 25 November 2019

Surprising that he didn't mention the most important (GM) factor holding up EVs: His own damned dealers! Go to a GM dealership and see how much interest they have in selling you an EV. Zero. Less than zero - they'll talk you out of it if you give them even half a chance.

In some ways I feel sorry for GM, Ford, etc. Even if they want to do the right thing their dealers are going to fight them every step of the way. That service business is might lucrative.

Pg3ibew | 25 November 2019

The biggest issue facing America today is charging. If you do not own a home, charging can be a bit of a bitch. For any car. The infrastructure in America needs to change. To the point of public charging stations on the street.

Kary993 | 25 November 2019

The issue with all of this are the masses believe the GM head and the stupid wall street analyst with their FUD. It scares away people and the GM dude gets what he wants, buy more ICE cars.

Pg3ibew | 25 November 2019

@kary, there is a shit ton of misinformation out there about EVs. I, personally, am trying to correct that disinformation, one inquiring mind at a time. Any one who asks about my Model 3, I talk to for as long as they will listen and are interested.

Joshan | 25 November 2019

Pg3ibew | November 25, 2019
The biggest issue facing America today is charging


Biggest issue facing america today is lack of reliable information and deliberate misinformation campaigns.

gballant4570 | 25 November 2019

"Cost - EV is still more expensive on initial acquisition. Although life cycle cost is absolutely reduced in an EV, there are many people who simply can't afford the initial purchase. And many people who don't evaluate total life cycle... they just want to know what their payment will be."

If someone cannot afford the initial purchase of an EV, they cannot afford the initial purchase price of any new vehicle. Used car sales are actually a related, but different, subject.

jrweiss98020 | 25 November 2019

Why would he write it? Because obviously GM is behind the power (or range) curve when it comes to EVs. He picked the 238-mile threshold because that's what the Bolt claims (the Niro strategically claims 239, and the Kona claims 258). If he stuck to the 'public demand' of 300 mi, AFAIK only the Tesla plays right now.

As others pointed out, he needs to steer customers toward what he can sell them.

Pg3ibew | 25 November 2019

@joshan, I agree that disinformation is certainly part of it. I do not know where you live. I can speak for NYC here. If you do not own a home, there are very few places to charge. VERY VERY VERY VERY FEW.

Lack of charging infrastructure is a major obstacle that needs to be over come. I think it will be overcome in a fairly short amount of time. Once we get our heads out of the sand. Until then, non homeowners will find it extremely difficult to charge.

bjrosen | 25 November 2019

Charging isn't holding back EV adoption. 64% of Americans own their own home, if you have a driveway or a garage then putting in an EVSE is only about $1K, the same as the paint option on the Model 3. For long range travel the CCS network is still an impediment but at the rate they are building it out that will no longer be true in a year or two, Tesla already has a good enough Supercharger network to get to most places in the US. The perception of the availability of charging is certainly an impediment because if you aren't looking for chargers you probably aren't aware of how many there are. Tesla has the Supercharger network map on their website, one look at will reassure you that you can go where you want to go. If a CCS EV dealer really wanted to sell EVs then all they have to do is print out the Plugshare map and put it on the wall. They could also bundle EVSE sales and installation with the sale of the car, that's an extra profit item for them, it's just a case of wanting to sell EVs.

EAPme | 25 November 2019

Interesting read. It smacks of the inability to commit to EV's while also doing just enough to stay relevant.

He makes reference to EV producers as "we" (as a collective) and seemingly tries to cash in on some of the successes from Tesla. Well done Elon, the accelerant!

The Volt Gen1 and Gen2 were great cars, the Bolt had some potential too if it weren't for it's unique looks.

One thing that'd I'd have to agree with him about is public chargers. It's a total crapshoot. Having to fiddle with SemaConnect/EVgo/EA/whatever is a PITA. Tesla SC's make the rest look like child's play.

dmastro | 25 November 2019

gballant4570 | November 25, 2019
"Cost - EV is still more expensive on initial acquisition. Although life cycle cost is absolutely reduced in an EV, there are many people who simply can't afford the initial purchase. And many people who don't evaluate total life cycle... they just want to know what their payment will be."

If someone cannot afford the initial purchase of an EV, they cannot afford the initial purchase price of any new vehicle. Used car sales are actually a related, but different, subject.

Uh no. There are a variety of new cars available < $15K - $16K MSRP, which means you can buy them for $14K - $15K. Compare to an M3 at nearly $40K. There are many people who can afford $15K but not $40K.

Pg3ibew | 25 November 2019

@bjrosen, as much as I would love to get into a debate about your 64 percent number, I wont. And I wont get into whether people houses habe the capaboltt to add a charger. Or if they have parling in fron of their home. Or their condo or whatever. I will agree for now that your number is correct and EVERYINE of those people has the capailtity to install and charge. . You are saying that 36 percent of the population can NOT charge. That is a MASSIVE number. Which can not be overlooked.

Pg3ibew | 25 November 2019

Excuse my typos. I am out walking.

Joshan | 25 November 2019

I hear you Pg3. But just using those some numbers being thrown around.

64% can drive EV without changing their driving habits
1% are currently driving EVs?

Quite a bit of room for growth there, you think?

gballant4570 | 25 November 2019

If GM had a clue, they wouldn't be so far behind and dropping further back with each passing minute.

Pg3ibew | 25 November 2019

@joshan. Even if those numbers are true, 34 percent is a massive number. COUPLE that with the misinformation. I get it.

Varricks | 25 November 2019

"Just read a short article on three things holding up converting to EVs"

There's a lot of the trouble. "Converting" isn't going to do it, GM et al. Everyone at all the traditional companies needs to take their retirement and get the hell out of the way for the new. All the cars we know are horses, and they're beautiful animals. But they are no longer suitable for general transport.

bjrosen | 25 November 2019

@Pg3ibew, I'm not saying that the charging problem doesn't have to be solved for people in apartments and condos, I'm just saying that the currently addressable market is huge. More than half of the population could charge at home and that the road trip infrastructure is at the good enough level for Tesla today and will be at that level for CCS in just a year or two. Cars aren't phones, people don't replace them every two years, they replace them every 10 years if not longer so it's a long process. If you look at where the road trip infrastructure will be in just five years it will be so good that there won't be any concerns. The same goes for range, in five years the base range will be greater than 300 and 500 will be available. As for the ungaraged portion of the population, I believe that the market will solve the problem in a timely manner. Today EVs represent only 1% of the market so there isn't a lot of incentive for supermarket and mall owners to install chargers, but when it hits 10% (and in CA it's getting close to that already) then they won't need any prodding to install chargers, at least in areas with a high number of apartments. These won't be 250KW Superchargers, they will be lower speed chargers. If you owned a supermarket in an urban area it's in your interest to install chargers that are just fast enough to attract customers but slow enough so that they have to spend 30 minutes in your store. Charging isn't free so it's an extra source of revenue from something that's free today, parking. Those are powerful incentives so they should be enough to solve the problem for the last 35% of the population.

Bighorn | 25 November 2019

He should probably watch “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

FISHEV | 25 November 2019

"range, number of public charging stations, and cost."

Those are what co-workers who purchase exotic cars (Porsche Panamera PHEV to Maseratis which showed up today to 911 Turbo S) list for their reasons. And from other co-workers who, like myself, are more Model 3 price folks. They always ask about those issues with the Tesla from me and Tesla owning co-workers (3).

Those are all legit questions.

Winter is also an issue as range has dropped a lot with colder weather and it's not even that cold 40-50's.

While may of us are willing to take on the pioneer status to make EV's work, it's not totally fair to demand others do it especially folks with families.

We need to build out the fast DC charging network. We need to increase the range. We need to get the price down.

Sarah R | 25 November 2019

Cost. Really? You can spend $60k on a Camaro. The SLE V6 Camry starts at $35k. Make it nice and you'll be over $42k in the blink of an eye. Challenger Hellcat? You're in Model S territory. That Hellcat will pass anything except a gas station.

Oh, you wanted a truck? Trail rated? Your Tacoma is now in the same price range as the dual motor Cybertruck.

That whole article seems like it was intended to dampen the market for EVs by an executive who sees them as "compliance cars". Of you'll recall, when they rolled out the Gen 1 Volt, they called it "the car America had to build." The double entendre wasn't lost on me. While they spoke to one audience with the feigned positive message of "we're working towards a clean future", the same words spoke to another audience: "The only reason we built it is to comply with the law."

EAPme | 25 November 2019


Clapping Out Loud...

GM is trying to play both sides and not have it seem obvious.

Ross1 | 26 November 2019

As GM pres, he could have included but didnt: there is no profit in them; we sell them at a loss then our dealers cant afford to NOT service them. So how can we ever sell them?

Ross1 | 26 November 2019

Bolt designed in Australia at General Motors-Holden Design Studio

Ross1 | 26 November 2019

Wikipedia agrees with Rosen, however Google disagrees:

The Chevy Bolt has won a lot of praise in the motoring world and it’s rightly deserved. It was voted car of the year at the 2017 North American International Motor Show and this was icing on the cake on top of other accolades from motoring magazines and the press in general. From concept (that was incidentally designed and built in Port Melbourne Australia) to production model took just 2 years and has beaten the Tesla Model 3 to launch as an affordable long range EV. The Bolt will be sold throughout North America and comes to Europe in June 2017 as the Opel Ampera E. There are no stated plans to produce a right hand drive model and it’s doubtful it will ever reach Australian shores. The Chevy Bolt from GM is the second iteration of electric cars and as such demonstrates the typical advances in technology of cheaper and better. In the US after federal and state incentives this car can be had for as little as USD $25,000. Well done GM and congratulations to the Australian design team for coming up with such a great vehicle.

Pg3ibew | 26 November 2019

@bjrosen. I think we are on the same page. Just looking at it from different angles.

kevin_rf | 26 November 2019

Wait, he didn't address not being able to charge when it is raining...

FISHEV | 26 November 2019

"Cost. Really?"@SarahR

Really. Average new car cost is $36k. Median income in the US is $40k. Car expense should be 15% of net income, about $25k for median income person for a car.

Stripped down Model 3 is $40k and will lack many of the features a $36k will provide in top of the issues with charging and making it work.

When there's a full featured 400 mile EV for $25k and a robust public charging network mass EV transition can happen.

billtphotoman | 26 November 2019

I agree that we have a ways to go before many people can replace their only car with a BEV. But, in the US at least there is a huge market for people to replace one of their ICE vehicles with a BEV. If the legacy OEMs were serious they would be advertising their BEVs for this market. For my wife and I 40 kWh Leaf (next cost about $28k before tax incentives and about $18k after) and model 3 LR work. The model 3 is way too expensive for many people so if we weren't willing to pay the model Leaf + hybrid or plug in hybrid would be the next best choice. I think a model Y size CUV priced in the 20s with 150 mile range and (very importantly) marketed as a city CUV would sell very well.

Scrannel | 26 November 2019

So... I traded in a Range R Evoque that I bought new in 2013. Aside from the gas costs, one needs to look at the cost of "maintenance". You know, all those required pit stops to do things like flush the brakes; flush the coolant; change oil and filter; have software updated (doesn't do it over the air); change brake pads and rotors too often... And this doesn't include regular service (tune-ups) nor if one of the many devices (not found on an EV) should tank. Did I mention the convenience of not having to stop at gas stations (I charge at home). My Model 3 looks like a bargain to me.

hokiegir1 | 26 November 2019

@bjrosen - "The perception of the availability of charging is certainly an impediment because if you aren't looking for chargers you probably aren't aware of how many there are. "

There's a way I counter this when talking to people. First, I point out home charging gets me through locally, so generally not an issue. I also live somewhere with 5 superchargers around, so I discuss those rare occasions when we use more than 300 local miles (it does happen sometimes when hubby is running his parents to appointments), and show that we can top off at any of these places. Then I pull out the plugshare app. First, I filter to just superchargers and talk about road trips and how it changes how we look at and plan the trip, but overall timewise, it's not significantly different. Then, I add in L2 and talk about the fact that those are about the same as my home charger -- and quite a few are at (or near) hotels, so we just choose our overnight stops differently than we did previously and try to stay at one with a charger, so we can leave in the morning with a full "tank" like we do at home. Finally, I'll talk a little about standard exterior outlets as an "emergency solution" -- but point out that I've never *had* to use one.

jimglas | 26 November 2019

His comments are quite accurate
For the cars he is manufaturing

Sarah R | 26 November 2019

@jimglas do you suppose he was using the "Royal We"?

FISHEV | 26 November 2019

"But, in the US at least there is a huge market for people to replace one of their ICE vehicles with a BEV."@billphotoman

A Tesla that compares in features to a $36k ICE car costs $52k and even then the Tesla lacks features that the loaded $36k ICE will have. Using the 15% of net income for car budget, the $52k Tesla would cost $58k including interest and payments would be $10k per year, that puts the Tesla in the reach of people with incomes of $92k or higher, the top 25% in US can afford the Tesla. Many of those folks will be buying status cars vs. EV's. So the overall market for EV's right now due to price is small.

SamO | 26 November 2019

The market for Tesla EVs is enormous. Anyone who says differently is smoking crack and terrible at math.

rxlawdude | 26 November 2019

"Road trip infrastructure is at the good enough level for Tesla today and will be at that level for CCS in just a year or two."

In my opinion, the notion that a patchwork of multiple operators of CCS stations (let's be real, 2-3 stalls each optimistically) is going to be viable in a year or two is unlikely. Worse, because of the lack of a consistent operator (a la Tesla Superchargers), pricing will be wildly variable but almost always more than what paid Supercharger users pay).

nwfan | 26 November 2019

@rxlawdude, good points. My recent attempt at using EA charger
(chademo) supports your comments. Only 1 charger at site and it
was broken.

Co-worker just ordered Ford Mach-E. He had a few questions for me.
I'm know as the electric guy at work, guess since I've owned 6 electric
cars since 2011 and have number 7 on order (CT). He asked about home
charging. Charging on the road. Charge times and convenience of charger locations.
Are charge locations packed? Do you wait long? I had explain Tesla SC network
and my road trips. The destination charger network located at hotels and Tesla
community. Local owners groups and online forums.

I mention Ford doesn't have any of the above. If there depending on 3rd party charge solutions
he better keep his 2nd gas car/truck. I let him know Tesla has been installing and mainaining
superchargers since 2012. They do not depend on 3rd parties to maintain them. I also reminded
him from site survey, lease, construction and inspection all could easily take 1 year or longer.
I also warned him about cost. My Model S has free supercharging but Model 3 does not. I
suspect my Cypertruck will be pay as you charge. Explain the fee structure with a Tesla.
Provided him a link to EA and there costs.

Suggested he contact Ford about plans for level 2 home charging solution. If he was serious about
buying Ford EV he better have level 2 charger. Without one the vehicle would be hard to charge
and drive around town.

Sarah R | 27 November 2019

@rxlawdude: And then there's this:

ChargePoint and Electrify America partnering to allow each other's customers to use their networks seamlessly. I suspect that this is how the for-profit charging industry will go. First it will be partnerships, then consolidation, and finally a duopoly.

Bighorn | 27 November 2019

That charging partnership on which this whole scam is based raised their simple 30-35 cents a minute rate to a tiered system where fast chargers are 99 cents per minute (!!!) which makes it unaffordable but all for the top 2% of earners in the North America. Math available on request*
*with exceptions based on poster

Would you trust this dude?? He said they were reducing charging fees by 20% when they actually raised them by 200%

FISHEV | 27 November 2019

"ChargePoint and Electrify America partnering to allow each other's customers to use their networks seamlessly."@SarahR

Ford takes it a step further and has two years free DC fast charging at EA, EVgo, Chargepoint, Blink via a single FordPass. The car maps them all by default.

EA's building over the next two years will equal Tesla's on DC fast charging. An eight stall DC station in Vancouver, WA just opened and a two four stall DC stations in PDX under construction just about complete. Build out on EA is over next two years, cross country, same size as Teslas. I don't see any other build out as there isn't a market for public charging.

They won't have the overcrowding issue that I run into at all my Tesla chargers now, all three are "High Usage/Limited Charge", typically full which also has power consequences, watched my 100kW charge rate drop to 70kW when another car plugged int the shared circuit.