Report: GM Wants More Affordable EVs, Increased Range to Challenge Tesla

GM hopes to broaden its electric program with lower prices and better battery technology.

General Motors has gone through many ups and downs in the area of electric vehicles lately, and the company is reinforcing its priority on EV development with recent claims of challenging California-based startup Tesla with a new EV with a 200-mile driving range. According to reports from Automotive News and the Wall Street Journal, GM hopes to push forward in battery development while still offering more affordable electric vehicles.

GM’s only currently available fully electric vehicle is the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV, which starts at $27,495 and has a driving range of 82 miles as rated by the EPA. The 2014 Chevrolet Volt is a range-extended electric vehicle which can travel 38 miles on electric power alone. GM’s vice president of global product programs Doug Parks, though, told AN and the WSJ that GM is making a push in the area of battery research in order to better challenge electric vehicle technology leaders like Tesla, Nissan, and Volkswagen, who recently announced its intentions to become the electric vehicle global sales leader by 2018.

GM reportedly wants to develop an electric vehicle with a range of at least 200 miles; the 2013 Tesla Model S sedan achieves a maximum range of 265 miles with the range-topping 85 kilowatt battery pack. GM’s largest challenge, according to Parks, is cost, as the current battery technology that would allow this type of range is too expensive for GM to produce at this point. Parks acknowledged Tesla’s success but said that GM’s priority will be hitting a lower price point than the Tesla’s more than $70,000 base price with the optional 85 kilowatt battery.

For now, Parks emphasized that GM will continue its current strategy of improving the Volt’s extended range electric drivetrain; we’ve previously reported on GM CEO Dan Akerson’s comments about improving the next generation Volt’s electric driving range by at least 20 percent. He also told reporters in March that GM would launch two electric cars capable of travelling 100 or 200 miles on an electric charge. On top of that, Akerson said the next generation of the Volt should also cost significantly less.