GM CEO Questions EV Demand, Bolt Orders Stopped in EU Because of High Demand

General Motors CEO Mary Barra has just been named Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Woman, and she took advantage of this opportunity to clear the waters over some of her previous comments.
GM CEO Mary Barra 1 photo
Photo: Fortune Live Media on Flickr
She reinstated GM's commitment to an electric future, but she thinks it shouldn't be reached by mandates such as the one proposed by several countries - and evaluated by even more of them, including China - that see internal combustion engines banned altogether.

Barra believes the healthiest way to make the transition is to make EVs exciting, to create a natural demand for this type of propulsion and not force - or incentivize - people into buying them. If you think about it, she's absolutely right: that's the nature of a free market - one that does not require the intervention of the authorities in any way.

“Clearly we believe that the Chinese market will have the highest electric vehicles most quickly because of the regulatory environment," she said on the occasion, quoted by Detroit News. "I think the point I was trying to make, and it kind of got spun into something a little different, is at the end of the day you still have to make customers happy and you have to fill their needs.

We’ve encouraged the Chinese government to work with us and work with the industry to make sure we’re creating the excitement and demand for electric vehicles as opposed to it just being mandated.”

What she seems to be missing is that there is already a much higher demand for her company's own 2017 Chevrolet Bolt than GM is able (or willing) to produce. The electric hatchback had a multi-stage rollout in the U.S. during this year because of limited availability, and it reached European shores even later.

Once it did, though, it proved to be a success. Sold under the Opel Ampera-e name, the battery-powered model fitted even better in the European landscape, a market known for its love story with the hatchback shape.

With Tesla's Model 3 still a distant prospect, customers there turned their attention toward GM's EV, and they did so with enough conviction to prompt a halt on any new orders due to the company's inability to guarantee a delivery date. While that doesn't mean GM could switch to EVs entirely the next year without suffering any sales drops, it still makes Mary Barra look like a fool for talking about a lack of demand for electric vehicles.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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