GM wants to be the Android for EVs. Tesla’s lead in the EV market and revolution has often been compared to how Apple changed the way we have used the phone. It used to be one would have to press the 7 four times to get the letter S. Spelling Mississippi on those old-school phones was horrendous. GM has now announced its plans to make EVs at scale and has a $20 billion budget for that.
Tesla’s lead on the industry is due to its advanced battery technology as well as its Autopilot technology (hardware as well as AI used/created to eventually make Tesla’s vehicles fully self-driving). It is hard to see anyone beating Tesla at this game, especially since Tesla seems to innovate more and more rigorously.
When it comes to batteries, GM is hoping to be a second best alternative, though (the Android to Tesla’s iPhone). “What matters more than anything is battery cost. If you can get cost down, you can get a better range. The big automakers like GM have an advantage in scale and global reach,” the head of transport analysis for BloombergNEF, Colin McKerracher, told Bloomberg.
Bloomberg shares just how GM could use battery technology to get back into the game. Its battery cells, modules, and packs are designed differently from Tesla’s. These modular battery packs give GM the flexibility to make vehicles in a variety of sizes, and the battery pack can be mated to one of three different electric motors. As long as GM is able to get those battery prices down to a level competitive with Tesla, it can put batteries in the large variety of different vehicle classes/models the company is known for. Can GM’s Ultium batteries come close in competitiveness to Tesla’s? Maybe. We’ll see.
However, in order to be the Android for EVs, other things have to be taken into consideration as well. One major thing is the reason EVs exist. Tesla’s main goal is to get everyone driving EVs, to completely do away with gas vehicles — because the future of our planet and human society depend on that. GM has shown that it doesn’t really care about the “why” in the EV factor — it is all about the profits. If GM really cared, the company would not have supported Donald Trump’s emissions rollback.
Trump’s plan will raise oil consumption in the United States by half a billion barrels each day while lowering automakers’ regulatory costs by billions annually. In other words, GM is making a profit at the expense of the environment it is claiming to help with its push for EVs. Unless GM changes its stance on the rollback plan, its push for EVs seems at best, fake. It seems fake because the company is in it for the money and if the money was to dry up, or if consumers opted for Teslas instead of GM’s “Android of EVs,” then GM would, like several others, revert back to pushing the sales of its gas-powered vehicles.
The fact that GM wants to be the Android of EVs shows that it knows that Tesla is the leader when it comes to EVs. If this wasn’t otherwise, GM would want to be the iPhone, not the Android. If GM succeeds, though, the real winners will be consumers and the environment. In order for this to happen, GM would have to make a vehicle worthy enough to be considered actual competition for Tesla. So far, no automakers have succeeded in doing that. Yes, they have made and sold EVs, but none are at the level Tesla is on, which is one reason the Model 3 is far and away the best selling electric vehicle in the world.