Manufacturing News

GM plans expanded hybrid, EV lineup in China

China sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid car are minimal, but General Motors intends to be a player in that market as it grows, a GM executive said Friday.

Chinese tariffs have raised the Volt's price to twice its $40,000 cost in the United States. Nevertheless, GM is counting on the vehicle to establish its presence in China as it introduces other EVs and plug-ins, said Ray Bierzynski, head of GM's electric vehicle strategy in China.

He declined to provide Volt sales figures, but noted that it was a very low-volume car.

GM has said it will eventually sell the Cadillac ELR luxury electric coupe in China. The automaker also is considering an EV version of the Chevrolet Sail, a top-selling car in the Chinese market.

"There's no silver bullet," Bierzynski said in an interview. "All of these may have applicability at any given point in time."

China's most promising EV market is commercial vehicles, for which 84 percent of all EVs and plug-ins are certified, he said.

The Chinese government hopes to have 500,000 electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015, rising to 5 million units by 2020. The government also has said that construction of charging stations must speed up.

Bierzynski said automakers will need to sell EVs and plug-ins to meet aggressive fuel economy standards that China has set for 2020. But GM has no plans to build the Volt in China, Bierzynski reiterated.

The Volt is sold in 13 dealerships in eight cities, Bierzynski said. GM also sells the Buick LaCrosse with its eAssist light hybrid technology, as well as a hybrid Cadillac Escalade SUV.

The company has shown a concept for an all-electric Sail, but there are no current plans to produce the vehicle. "There's work going on toward it, but we have not made any decision direction on production, volume, timing, any of that," Bierzynski said.

He also declined to say when the plug-in Cadillac ELR would be sold in China, which Akerson said in April would happen "soon." The ELR is scheduled to go on sale in the United States next year.

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