About two years after GM delivered the first Chevy Volt to a paying customer, head of product development Mary Barra (now GM’s first female CEO) announced the automaker’s intentions to put 500,000 electric and hybrid vehicles on U.S. roads by 2017. It was an ambitious goal, even in the earliest days of the EV revolution, and it should come as no surprise that GM is walking back expectations that it will actually meet its self-imposed milestone.
“For our commitment to electrification, our forecasted outlook currently projects us, along with the broader automotive industry, falling short of expectations for 2017,” the automaker said in its 2014 Sustainability Report. “GM is committed to electrification and our award-winning eAssist, extended-range electric vehicle and battery electric vehicle offerings, but consumer demand for these vehicles has not kept up with our initial projections.”
According to GM, it had just over 180,000 vehicles with some form of electrification on the road in 2014. This includes over 70,000 Chevy Volts and a few thousand Spark EVs, with the balance in conventional hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles. To meet its goal of 500,000 electrified vehicles by the end of 2017, GM should be around 250,000 to 300,000 units by now. Unfortunately, sales of the Chevy Volt, while strong enough to warrant a follow-up, weren’t as robust as hoped.
While the General is preparing for annual sales of up to 50,000 per year of the second-gen Chevy Volt, which would still only add another 120,000 or so sales by the end of 2017, still leaving GM well short of its goals. The 200-mile Chevy Bolt EV isn’t slated to begin production until the end of 2017 either, so it won’t be much help; the 48 MPG Chevy Malibu Hybrid could, however, help pad GM’s numbers if it’s priced appropriately.
That all said, there’s still about two and a half years left for GM start hustling up more electrified vehicle sales, and with a lower price and more content, the 2016 Chevy Volt could exceed GM’s guarded expectations. And if that happens, maybe the 500,000 unit goal won’t seem so ambitious after all.