AFter over 100 years of selling vehicles that pollute the atmosphere, General Motors is ending its relationship with gasoline and diesel. This morning, the American automotive giant announced that it is working toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future. That starts with two new, fully electric models next year—then at least 18 more by 2023.
That product onslaught puts the company at the forefront of an increasingly large crowd of automakers proclaiming the age of electricity and promising to move away from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. In recent months, Volvo, Aston Martin, and Jaguar Land Rover have announced similar moves. GM’s announcement is particularly noteworthy because it’s among the very largest automakers on the planet. It sold 10 million cars last year, ranging from pickups to SUVs to urban runabouts.
“General Motors believes the future is all-electric,” says Mark Reuss, the company’s head of product. “We are far along in our plan to lead the way to that future world.”
Reuss did not give a date for the death knell of the GM gas- or diesel-powered car, saying the transition will happen at different speeds in different markets and regions. The new all-electric models will be a mix of battery electric cars and fuel cell-powered vehicles.
General Motors’ history hasn’t been especially kind to electric mobility. Its invention of the automatic starter helped kill the first wave of electric cars at the start of the 20th century. This is the company that experimented with battery power in the EV-1, only to recall the two-seater from its owners, crush them all, and pile the carcasses up in a junkyard. In the first years of the 21st century, while Toyota was making hybrids popular with the Prius, GM was hawking the Hummer.
Over the past decade, the Detroit giant has positioned itself for a different sort of future. First came the hybrid electric Chevy Volt. Then came GM’s great coup, the Chevy Bolt, the 200-mile, $30,000 electric car that hit market long before Tesla’s Model 3. GM is seriously pursuing semi-autonomous and fully driverless cars. It offers the first car on US roads with vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability. Now, it talks about its plans to eliminate vehicle pollution, congestion, and traffic deaths.