Just a year ago, GM changed its tune about the possibility of hybrids—and plug-in hybrids like the much-loved Chevrolet Volt—in the company’s near-term future.
Put simply, GM was finished with hybrids. There will be no follow-ups to the Volt, no long-rumored plug-in hybrid crossover, and even no more hybrids on the way.
With the electric Hummer still little more than a Super Bowl tease, and the electric Cadillac that will lead GM’s new EV push not to be revealed until April, GM’s annual presentation to investors Wednesday included some doubling down on its strategy to axe hybrids and focus only toward electric vehicles.
In response to a question about how the company is changing due to that decision, GM president Mark Reuss called hybrids in any form a stopgap.
Reuss outlined the barriers—like certification, and cost—of having two propulsion sources on board, and said: “I just—from a physics and engineering standpoint—just can’t get my head around making money doing that in the long haul, even as a stopgap.”
2019 Chevrolet Volt
“I love the Volt; I was one of the early buyers of the Volt, and I get a lot of emails from Volt buyers and I get it,” said Reuss. “But at the end of the day if we can get the battery chemistry vertically integrated, correct, and cost effective, and our control systems are taking everything we’ve learned from Bolt and Volt on how to use the battery to get more range and be cost effective...the customer is going to be much, much happier by doing a pure EV than a stopgap.”
Reuss added—likely still referring to plug-in hybrids—that they’re hard to understand.
“If I had another dollar of R&D from our company, I would spend it on getting the anode and cathode of our batteries better,” Reuss said decisively.
In last year’s call, the executive put it another way, distilled down to what sounds like a business rule of thumb: “You can’t spend money to force the customer to carry around extra stuff they may not need.”