GM CEO: Chevy Bolt EV Will Be Basis For a ‘Huge Range of Vehicles’

A recent comment by General Motors CEO Mary Barra this week has sent EV fans to speculating, as she said a “huge range of vehicles” will be spun off from the Bolt EV platform.

How one defines a huge range of vehicles, how soon these will be, and what really to expect at all were not disclosed, but the question came after being asked about Ford’s announcement of 13 electrified vehicles it has in the works.

“I think what’s important is the Bolt EV follows the second generaton of the Volt; so we had the first Chevrolet Volt, we’ve already launched the second generation,” said Barra from the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. “There’s a lot of learning there, and all those learnings went into the Bolt.”

… Which, she says will be the basis of many more cars – presumably all-electric, but not defnitively stated as such – to come.

“The Bolt is our platform that we’re going to continue on and have a huge range of vehicles,” said Barra, “so we haven’t announced them yet, but you’re going to see more coming.”

Chevy Volt.

Barra went on to avoid specifics mentioning things GM expects including costs being driven down, improved battery energy density, people liking the new electrified cars, and synergies will happen.

“So, I think that the fact that were doing it right now is pretty significant,” she said.

Implied also by Barra’s response was the Volt is better in key ways than what Ford has yet demonstrated.

Ford’s plug-in hybrid C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi have up to 20-21 miles EV range, whereas the purpose-built Volt has 53, and these cars combined in 2016 had 23,895 sales compared to the Volt’s 24,739.

But Ford, reinventing itself into a “mobility” company as is GM, has promised a 300-plus-mile all-electric SUV, a hybrid F-150, hybrid Mustang, turbocharged hybrids, and Barra predictably sidestepped answering a “future product” question about the potential for a Camaro hybrid.

GM has previously expressed interest in a hybrid Corvette, potentially a plug-in hybrid Corvette, and otherwise it and so many other manufacturers know they’ll need more electrified vehicles to meet global regulations in years ahead.

Fusion Energi.

“Electrified” is defined as hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or battery electric, and contrary to what the reporter suggested to Barra of Ford’s future product announcement, Ford is bringing 13 “electrified” vehicles, not “13 EVs” (as in battery electric vehicles) by 2020.

As it has for some time now, GM is thus playing its hand closer to its chest, but Barra’s statements imply the company will not be left out – and it will meet competition, demand and all other market realities as it has to.

Barra went on to say GM expects gas prices to stay low in America for quite some time, and this has driven record sales of conventional trucks, SUVs, and crossovers that Americans like to buy when they don’t feel immediate pressure of gas prices.

Yes, one might say there is a reactive mentality among consumers, and carmakers in turn are reacting to regulations, with a goal of making revenues and staying ahead of penalties.

This said, manufacturers including VW Group, Daimler and BMW have all projected 15-25 percent of their products being electrified by 2025, Honda said two-thirds by 2030, and so all carmakers now with toes in the water are being pulled in deeper.

Keeping to the metaphor, or mixtures thereof, if any are yet afraid they’ll be shocked by “electrified” waters, EV fans are splashing around already saying come in, the water is fine. Carmakers are saying trust us, we’ll get there soon.

Proof of consumer demand includes phenomena like over 400,000 pre-orders for Tesla’s “$35,000” and 215-plus mile Model 3, and exuberance anytime mention is made of an affordable or close to mainstream priced larger plug-in, like the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

A father to be.

So, coming back to the Bolt, Barra said its dedicated platform is expandable, and will be expanded to a “huge” number of vehicles. Whether that means a sedan, a larger crossover, a small SUV, or what else is not disclosed.

Something is in the works, what do you think they have up their sleeve?

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US New Car Fuel Economy Has Not Improved For Three Years Straight

Thanks to American preferences for less-efficient larger trucks and SUVs, the average fuel economy for new passenger vehicles purchased has stayed stuck at 25.1 mpg for the past three model years.

This is based on data from researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, which documents window sticker values of new vehicle purchases.

The UMTRI’s monthly monitor, as discovered by Autoblog, shows that fuel economy for light-duty vehicles sold in the U.S. during the 2016 model year was at the same level as the previous two model years.

Hybrid electric vehicle sales haven’t picked up much of the slack. HybridCar’s Dashboard reported that hybrid sales were down from 2015, making for 1.99 percent of total new vehicle sales in the U.S. last year.

Plug-in electrified vehicles had an increase in 2016 to 0.9 percent for calendar year 2016, helped along by a strong few months including an all-time best month of December recording nearly 1.4 percent of new PEV sales.

Still, the sales volume for hybrids and plug-in vehicles hasn’t been high enough to bump up the natural fuel economy average by very much.

CAFE has improved since TRI started tracking the new vehicles sales data in October 2007. The university reported that the 2008 model year had 20.8 in average mileage.

Automakers will be watching to see what the Trump administration may do about the “54.5 mpg” by 2025 mandate – which actually amounts to maybe 37-38 mpg on window stickers. The Obama administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had upset auto executives with its decision to stay with the original timetable and cut off the public comment period much sooner than had been initially stated.

The EPA changed that timetable for the comment period on 2022-25 model year vehicles. What was originally going to be open for comment before review in 2018 was closed on Dec. 30 of last year – a move interpreted as a counter to future plans by Trump’s EPA to potentially weaken standards.

Even so, automakers are hoping the new administration will open up that comment period again, or will consider lightening up the federal mandate through legislative action.

Automakers have been pleased to see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ease up the process a bit. Last month, NHTSA postponed a penalty increase that would have been applied to 2015 model-year vehicles. Penalties against automakers not meeting compliance will be held off until 2019.

The federal agency last month also granted automakers’ request for a rule-making process that will help to sort out the differences between the greenhouse-gas standards imposed by the EPA and the fuel-economy standard set out by NHTSA.

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Get Ready … Electrified BMW M And Mercedes AMG Cars Are Coming

Apparently nothing is sacred in the automotive world.

Those high-horsepower, gasoline-inhaling engines that emit a ferocious growl from the performance divisions of BMW and Mercedes-Benz will enevitably be electrified.

That is, “electrification” on the table includes hybridization, plug-in hybridization, and even all-electric versions of the enthusiast-oriented BMW “M” and Mercedes-Benz “AMG” cars.

These revelations come from separate reports out of the Detroit auto show confirming batteries and electric motors will be needed to comply with fuel economy and emissions standards in Europe and the U.S. set to go into effect over the coming years.

“It will happen, but the question is when is that going to happen,” said BMW’s performance arm chief, Frank Van Meel, to Autocar speaking of his company’s products. “Currently we still have a power-to-weight issue with electrification which makes that difficult to fit into a motorsports philosophy.”

Before going to a fully electric car, BMW will first introduce gasoline-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology that will prioritize performance rather than fuel efficiency.

“We already see the stop/start feature coming to M vehicles and the next step is electrification,” Meel said.

“At the end it will also be pure electric, but it’s going to take some time,” he added.

SEE ALSO: BMW i8 Coming With More Power, Longer Driving Range

At the moment, the big issue is the battery weight increase compared to the increase of performance.

Even though the M Division works closely with the electric Project i group, Meel ruled out the possibility of an M variant of the BMW i8.

“That wouldn’t make sense,” Meel told Auto Express.

“It’s two different directions,” he said.

“M is about uncompromised motorsport, whereas Project i looks into the future and is uncompromised efficiency.”

An AMG SLS Electric Drive prototype from a couple years ago.

Over at Mercedes, the story is pretty much the same: Electric AMG models are a matter of when, not if.

“There will be an AMG pure electric car but I don’t know when, because otherwise AMG will disappear as a brand,” Mercedes research and development boss Ola Källenius said in an interview with Car & Driver.

Källenius confirmed that AMG cars will first see hybrid versions and ultimately EV AMG models, including potential versions of the company’s upcoming electric-only EQ sub-brand.

“I don’t think they are opposite extremes,” he told Car & Driver.

“Electrification will find its way into AMG, and for me it’s not impossible that you’ll have a fully electric version or an AMG variant of an EQ,” he said.

SEE ALSO: AMG Coupe Electric Drive To Be World’s Fastest Production Electric Car

Mercedes-AMG dabbled in electric cars earlier with the 2014 SLS AMG Electric Drive, a limited production car with 740 horsepower and 737 pounds-feet of torque under the hood.

As for hybrids, AMG can dip into the Mercedes-Benz parts bin of existing hybrid technology, and draw from the company’s F-1 racing program that uses a KERS flywheel that recovers more kinetic energy than any other hybrid system.

The fact is that electric BMW M and Mercedes AMG cars are a given, but the ferocious growls from powerful gasoline engines will be missed.

Auto Car, and Car & Driver

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