General Motors leader and CEO Mary Barra talked about the automaker’s upcoming electric vehicle plans, saying the company is well-positioned to weather an economic storm in an interview. GM is launching several EV models and supporting energy products that Barra believes will see high demand, no matter the state of the economy.
With interest rates climbing at a historic rate, many are wondering how it will impact the high-flying auto market.
In an interview with Yahoo, Mary Barra spoke about GM’s potential as consumer preference trended toward electric cars, adding EVs are a “significant growth” opportunity. In addition, she says that EVs are more than “how you get to point A to point B,” as they can be used as powerful energy sources.
GM is leveraging its battery technology, spinning it into a newly established business called GM Energy to offer clean energy and storage solutions for residential and commercial customers.
Ultium Home, the company’s residential energy management business, allows consumers to utilize vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology with their EVs, creating an energy management system and microgrid. GM says it’s designing electric vehicles that can keep the lights on for up to 21 days.
When asked how big of a business GM Energy can be, Barra says that accelerating EV adoption and a new interest in sustainable energy can create a growth opportunity for its energy business.
Like Ford and Tesla, GM is focusing on services it can offer outside of building electric vehicles to diversify its income streams in case the economy weakens and vehicle demand slows.
The past several years have favored the auto industry as high demand and limited supply have led to favorable margins and growth. With several new EV launches in key market segments, Barra says the company is making sure it will be able to fund the company regardless of the economy.
GM already has several of the lowest-priced EVs on the market with the Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, which just had its best quarter with 15,000 US deliveries. The automaker also offers higher-end EVs in the GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq.
Meanwhile, in September, GM explained its strategy to provide an EV everywhere, launching a model in every significant auto segment. The GM models coming to market include:
Barra points out the Equinox EV is launching in the highest volume segment and is already having a positive response. A big reason for the interest is the price point of around $30,000, which Barra refers to as the “sweet spot” in the market.
Referring to the economy, Barra states:
I think we’re listening to what everyone else is saying around the globe, and so we’re preparing next year for a year that will look more like we have a little– it will actually be more demand but a little less demand than what we would think because we’re going to be conservative, make sure we set our cost structure up that way. So then if things turn out better, we’re well positioned.
Most importantly, she adds, with so many EV launches coming, GM is prioritizing future funding to ensure the company’s success, regardless of the state of the economy.
GM aims to sell one million EVs with over $35 billion in investments by 2025. According to Barra, the automaker has the supply agreements locked up to achieve that target as its second battery plant began operation in Ohio last month.
While larger, more expensive electric models are in high demand right now, if the economy turns and consumers cut back on spending, smaller, less expensive EVs will likely steal the shine.
For example, in a similar economic scenario (high inflation, Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy) in the early 1980s, auto sales plummeted 20% YOY in 1980 as consumers cut back on spending. The fallout triggered a transition to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. It also happened during the great financial crisis of 2008 to 2009.
This is the segment GM is targeting with its cost-effective, EV-for-everyone approach. If they can successfully launch and scale EV production, GM will be in a good position to weather the economy.
At the same time, with several highly-anticipated EV launches coming, Barra is right to focus on generating alternative sources of revenue. When an economic downturn happens, GM should know by now that cash is king and that will allow them to continue funding operations while getting ready for the next chapter in the auto industry.
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Peter Johnson is covering the auto industry’s step-by-step transformation to electric vehicles. He is an experienced investor, financial writer, and EV enthusiast. His enthusiasm for electric vehicles, primarily Tesla, is a significant reason he pursued a career in investments. If he isn’t telling you about his latest 10K findings, you can find him enjoying the outdoors or exercising