General Motors CEO Mary Barra told energy conference attendees in Houston on Wednesday the automaker would increase production of its newest electric vehicle, push for a single fuel-economy standard nationwide, and support expanding tax credits for electrified vehicles.
"The good news is that our generation has the ambition, the talent and the technology to create a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion," she said, according to prepared remarks made available before her speech at CERAWeek.
Barra said that by December 2017, owners of electrified GM models—including the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Volt—had traveled a total of 2.6 billion miles. The automaker expects to bring to market 20 new electric vehicles by 2023, significantly increasing that number long term.
In the short term, she said Chevy would increase production of the Bolt EV this year at its Orion Assembly Plant north of Detroit. A GM spokesman didn't specify how many more Bolt EVs would be produced at the plant, but last year Chevrolet sold 23,297 Bolt EVs nationwide.
In her speech, Barra indicated that GM would push for unified fuel economy standards among federal regulators and state agencies, including California and 16 other states that have adopted the more stringent standards. A review of the CAFE standards set in place under President Barack Obama in 2012 could change regulations for electric- and internal combustion-powered cars, and Barra pushed for a single standard.
"What we do support in that review is the need for the government to have one set of requirements, with California part of that process. One common standard allows us to advance innovation for our customers today and tomorrow," she said.
Barra noted that GM is improving fuel economy across its lineup, including its popular Chevy and GMC full-size pickup trucks. This year, when the 2019 Silverado and Sierra 1500 go on sale, those trucks will weigh up to 450 pounds less than previous generations and feature better aerodynamic efficiency and a cylinder-deactivation system that can cut up seven of the truck's eight cylinders.
GM would also support an increase in the number of cars eligible for a federal income tax credit, she said. Through December 2017, GM had sold more than 168,000 cars eligible for the credit. Federal law currently starts a phasedown of that credit once any automaker has sold 200,000 eligible cars.
She also said that the energy industry and others should partner with GM to build upon the roughly 17,000 charging stations nationwide. She called for cleaner energy grids, including increased use of renewable energy.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally said the federal income-tax credit for buying a plug-in electric car ended once any manufacturer had sold 200,000 eligible vehicles. In fact, they begin to phase down after that point in a process described in the linked article. We have edited the sentence to make the point clearer.