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GM hopes to launch small pure-electric vehicles to China sometime in the next few years.  (Source: Inhabitat)

GM is convinced that pure electrics are unwanted by U.S. customers, though.  (Source: YouTube/GM)
In the U.S. GM is talking smack about BEVs, but abroad its all flowers and roses

In a company as big as General Motors Company, a certainly level of differences in approach when it comes to different international branches is fairly standard.  However, GM's approach to pure electric vehicles (also known as battery electric vehicles -- BEVs) is nothing short of bipolar.

Abroad GM is brimming with enthusiasm for BEVs.  In Germany it's testing a fleet of Opel Merivas transformed into electrified BEVs.  GM India President and Managing Director, Karl Slym, says that a new BEV -- based on the Chevrolet New Sail -- may be shown off sometime next year.  And in Korea GM is showing off an all-electric Chevrolet Cruze test vehicle at the G20 summit.

But perhaps most significantly it's talking about introducing a low cost BEV to the Chinese market, which recently passed the U.S. market in sales for GM.  The new EV will be based on the EN-V concept, which enjoyed a strong response at Shanghai Expo.

Meanwhile in the U.S. GM has aired no plans to release a pure electric, and in fact seems to be minimizing their exposure.

Apparently convinced that American consumers don't want pure electrics, it's been airing a commercial not-so-subtly jabbing at BEVs like the Nissan LEAF EV.  The new commercial, which promotes the 2011 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) states:

This isn't a country where plans made at 9 necessarily apply at five.  This is America, man. Home of the highway, last-minute detours and spontaneous acts of freedom... So doesn't it just make sense that we build an electric car that goes far... really far.

The message seems clear.  Pure electric vehicles are great, especially for the lucrative Chinese market -- just not for the U.S.  

Has GM correctly tapped into the public sentiment, or is it missing the pure electrics boat that its domestic rival Ford and international rival Nissan seem happy to jump on?  That remains to be seen over the next couple years.



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My 2 cents
By lainofthewired on 11/5/2010 12:15:35 PM , Rating: 1
It isn't so much as whether electric cars will save the environment or their mineral requirements will make us slaves to China or anything like that.

The issue here is when companies start deciding for us what we want or don't want. That's what I don't like. People see this product, they like it, they would like to own it, and the people who make it say, "naaah, you don't really want this so we're not gonna make it."

Stop. Doing. That.




RE: My 2 cents
By rembo666 on 11/5/2010 12:38:19 PM , Rating: 5
They don't exactly "decide" what we want or don't want. They're not against making money. The problem is if you make a product that nobody wants, you lose money. Because of the financial risk involved, they try measure how many people would actually want the new product before producing it in large quantities. If you want a small electric vehicle, there are a bunch of startups that are working on them in the US.


RE: My 2 cents
By drycrust3 on 11/5/10, Rating: -1
RE: My 2 cents
By Motley on 11/5/2010 12:53:52 PM , Rating: 2
Companies typically don't do what you suggest. They look at demand for a product (demand is determined by the consumer not the company), then they take a look at the associated costs involved with bringing it to the market. If the profit to cost ration weighted by risk and costs associated with possible diversification is better than their current plans then they typically deliver. Otherwise, they do exactly what GM is and say the demand isn't strong enough to warrant the investment at the current time.


RE: My 2 cents
By Reclaimer77 on 11/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: My 2 cents
By mooty on 11/5/2010 1:33:53 PM , Rating: 2
Class it as a moped, not a car. These are intended for city traffic, not for crossing the continent.

"People would not want it" is a very lame excuse. If a multi-national company makes a certain product, it's foolish not to offer it to it's full consumer base. Let the consumer decide what they want!


RE: My 2 cents
By Solandri on 11/5/2010 2:39:39 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
"People would not want it" is a very lame excuse. If a multi-national company makes a certain product, it's foolish not to offer it to it's full consumer base. Let the consumer decide what they want!

That's true only if there are no barriers to entry. You can bet that if GM wants to sell these in the U.S., they'd have to file to get approval from a bunch of government agencies, redesign parts of it to make it satisfy EPA requirements, send a couple to NHTSA for crash safety testing, and you have the transport costs and import fees on top of it. They probably did the market research and it said the number of these they'd sell in the U.S. wouldn't be enough to pay for all that.

If you want it that badly, you can always import it yourself from China and pay for all the government-required retrofits, testing, taxes, and levies. People importing exotic sports cars from Europe do that all the time. Then maybe you'll start to see for yourself how much cost all that can add on. Cost which only makes economic sense if you're pretty sure you can sell like >100,000 of them.


RE: My 2 cents
By Reclaimer77 on 11/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: My 2 cents
By bobny1 on 11/6/2010 10:08:57 AM , Rating: 2
BUY AMERICAN!!!!. Proud American technology success.." IN CHINA". Pathetic!!. Stop using American money "BELLOUT" to be implemented overseas. Time to better use it at home for the sake of our own people. USA infrastructure is falling beyond repair and billions of dollars are invested in so called American companies. Time to flip the switch!!!


RE: My 2 cents
By Reclaimer77 on 11/5/10, Rating: -1
RE: My 2 cents
By sleepeeg3 on 11/5/2010 11:52:27 PM , Rating: 2
That's probably #1. These cars are inherently unsafe, but China has lower standards.

#2 could be that China is offering greater subsidies for these products. They have been making a push to seem "clean."

#3 is that it's simple cheaper to build in China. They have the labor and 98% of the rare earth elements needed to build these. We have unions and decommissioned mines.


RE: My 2 cents
By gregpet on 11/5/2010 2:01:10 PM , Rating: 1
I guess GM decided that we all wanted full size pick-ups and SUVs...It didn't work out too good for them...


RE: My 2 cents
By IcePickFreak on 11/5/2010 3:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
Odd then that they keep saying people want trucks and SUV's as that's what is selling. Not an over-priced sub-compact green machine that they're being forced to produce to sell for low margins to a very small niche market.


RE: My 2 cents
By walk2k on 11/5/2010 3:13:54 PM , Rating: 3
more like the OIL companies don't want us to have them.


RE: My 2 cents
By Targon on 11/6/2010 6:12:47 AM , Rating: 2
Can you say Smart Car? Sure you see them around, but the demand for them is fairly low in many places, just because they want something with more utility, or a four door. A $2000 tiny EV might sell, but not one for $8000.


Dead weight
By The Raven on 11/5/2010 12:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe we can unload GM on to the Chinese. Then we will be able to have Fords with Sync and OnStar! ;-)




Ripoff
By Uncle on 11/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: Ripoff
By lolmuly on 11/5/2010 3:54:44 PM , Rating: 3
http://www.dailytech.com/Study+Toyota+is+More+Amer...

we take some manufacturing from overseas too...

simple Global Economics 101....

so stop saying it...

quote:
"dey tukk our jebs!"


/facepalm


RE: Ripoff
By Uncle on 11/6/10, Rating: -1
By Midnight Rambler on 11/6/2010 11:59:06 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry to rant, but I'm a bit sick of too many wannabe auto industry "experts" and analysts ...

We at GM are not "making peoples' minds up for them", nor are we trying to limit American customers' choices.

First off, there is a demand for the product in China, now (kinda like our Buicks ! ). More importantly, there is a willingness at both gov't. and private (well, as "private" as you can be in China) levels to build and support the infrastructure needed for large-scale EV use.

Above all, demand aka peoples' buying habits and patterns, drives what vehicles we produce for North America. Yet still some people don't get it - we really haven't been lying all these years about why we still build so many trucks, SUVs, and large cars for NA - it's because that is what U.S. customers (largely) still want. The current market clearly illustrates this too. Despite gas at a steady $3/gal. and up again, with more pain definitely still to come, you'd be hard pressed to find a new sub-compact model that can even hit 40mpg highway, a really easy goal these days. Yet 15-20 years ago, you could readily find several models that topped 40, even 50mpg highway. And it's all because the U.S. consumer is not interested in such a vehicle. We could have made the new Cruze achieve 50mpg easily ...




Yeah, right . . .
By blueboy09 on 11/7/2010 9:25:12 AM , Rating: 2
GM is definitely talking out of their ass. This comes from a company that we the people bailed out to save their asses from total meltdown, and they say that pure EVs are not the way to go? Is that not the consumer's decision to make? BTW, I can understand totally that China needs pure EVs since their larger cities are practically smothered in smog, and it wouldn't hurt to take a clue on them. I mean, Los Angeles's smog is like Shanghai's in many ways, so why not invest in something that might help the environment a little? Heaven forbid that we ever do that!




EV-1
By muIIet on 11/7/2010 11:47:32 AM , Rating: 2
GM made them, people wanted them. GM shut it down and crushed every car.




G.M. Electric Cars
By jatkinsaut on 11/7/2010 7:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
GM may be right! I believe there really is a "Range Anxiety" fear in the US, that would only be overcome with a plug-in hybrid. Important cultural differences exist between us and China. GM might reasonably decide that it is not worth the effort to sell a pure battery electric vehicle in the USA and spend the marketing money just to have it flop. In any case, they can watch the Nissan Leaf to see how it does before taking the BEV plunge; "wait and see" may be a smart business decision.




Seriously
By cknobman on 11/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: Seriously
By gregpet on 11/5/2010 1:59:30 PM , Rating: 1
GM not so bad...Just don't buy a MB...

As an example, Consumer Reports noted that six of Mercedes-Benz's 13 models were below average, and the GLK sports-utility vehicle was far below average.

http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/ford/gm-vehicles...


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