GM Caves to Dealership Pleas, Pivots to Hybrids
The leadership at General Motors was all-in on EVs. But the folks who talk with car buyers day in and day out say that not everyone is ready to go electric. GM’s dealer advisory committee urged executives to offer more hybrids in the U.S. And GM says it listened. There are several reason this was wise.
First of all, it was GM who proved just how good a hybrid can be. Look at the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. Owners love it. And most EV proponents agree that it is one of the most compelling configurations of the past few decades. This is because it has an electric motor, a gasoline-powered range-extender generator, and was relatively inexpensive. Heck, GM was even the first automaker to roll out a hybrid pickup truck, though that project was short-lived.
Secondly, GM is already making hybrids. Its hybrid Buicks are doing a booming business in China. And GM global is on to something. GM’s most successful competitor, Toyota, sold 657,000 hybrids worldwide in 2023. And GM CEO Mary Barra admitted it would be easy to adapt foreign-market hybrid technology to the U.S. She said, “We have the technology, and we’ll continue to look at where the market is.”
Finally, there is currently a demand for hybrids and it will only increase. Chris Hemmersmeier owns a diverse portfolio of car dealerships in Utah, including GMs. He told the Wall Street Journal, “Hybrids are what’s hot right now.” He warns that this is why his GM branches are falling behind Kia and even Jeep. “I’d like to see GM prioritize hybrids.”
Hemmersmeier isn’t talking about Toyota Prius buyers. He is referring to plug-in hybrid SUVs such as the Kia Sportage or Jeep’s 4xe lineup. And I expect demand for these vehicles will only increase.
Over a dozen U.S. states have passed some form of future combustion ban. The combustion ban idea is obviously catchy enough for GM to pile all its eggs into the EV basket. But all of the above states are softening to the idea of plug-in hybrids, and planning to allow at least a given number of them. This makes sense: a plug-in hybrid might make most commutes emissions free while still offering unlimited gasoline range for occasional roadtrips.
Barra’s stance has been the same for years: “I still believe in the endgame, that you want to move to EVs as quickly as you can.” But 24 hours after the GM dealer advisory committee urged her to consider hybrids she agreed to offer plug-in hybrid versions of “select” models.
Next, read more about what makes plug-in hybrids a great alternative to the combustion ban, or hear what made the Chevy Volt such a great commuter car in the video below: