GM’s Strong Truck Sales Are Funding EV Sales Blitz, Barra Says

General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra during an interview
General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra during an interview in New York. (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg News)

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General Motors Co.’s leader said demand for expensive trucks remains robust, enabling the company to fund a blitz in electric vehicles that begins this year.

“We still see very strong demand for our trucks,” CEO Mary Barra told Bloomberg TV in an interview with David Westin. “That kind of response, especially when they want to buy up-level models, is really what allows us to invest from an EV perspective.”

The country’s top auto seller last year is capitalizing on sustained interest in gas-powered vehicles — and still-high prices — as it navigates a transition away from fossil fuels. GM has laid out one of the more definitive paths toward electrification, pledging to sell nothing but plug-in models by the middle of the next decade.

This year will be pivotal for the company, which has seven new EVs coming to market, enabled by the opening of its Ultium Cells battery plant in Ohio. With its battery supply finally increasing, GM can get its newest plug-in vehicles in production in significant volume, Barra said.

She pointed to EV models such as the Hummer pickup, electric Cadillac Lyriq, Chevrolet Silverado pickup and Blazer SUV that will ramp up output this year.

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The Detroit automaker has opted to build its own battery pack and dedicated EV platform rather than move quick with converted internal combustion hardware. That has contributed to GM’s slow start in the EV race, even as traditional rival Ford Motor Co. builds out its offerings and Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai establish a strong presence.

GM sold just under 40,000 EVs last year, finishing behind Ford and far short of market leader Tesla Inc. Almost all of GM’s plug-in sales last year were the Chevrolet Bolt compact, which is the company’s prior-generation technology.

Tesla is expected to lead again this year with 427,000 U.S. sales, followed by GM with 117,000 and Ford with 104,000, according to research firm LMC Automotive.

GM shares rose less than 1% Feb. 16 in New York. The stock is up 28% this year, far outpacing the S&P 500 Index.

With assistance from David Westin.

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