GM says hybrids are over, reboots Cadillac as an electric vehicle leader

General Motors essentially put a fork in hybrids on Friday and announced that Cadillac will lead its upcoming electric vehicle charge in the United States.

GM President Mark Reuss revealed the first information about the company’s third-generation battery-electric platform, which will launch with a new Cadillac model that will be the first of many. He described it as being able to accommodate front-, rear- or all-wheel-drive and a variety of battery sizes using an “ice cube tray” design that allows for a different number of cells to be installed, depending on a particular model’s requirements.

Answering an analyst’s question about the future of hybrids in the company’s lineup, Reuss called them a countermeasure to the internal combustion engine and said that resources would be redirected toward fully-electric cars, instead. The move represents a sharp departure by the company that championed plug-in hybrids with the soon to be discontinued Chevrolet Volt.


Reuss, who was previously the automaker’s head of product development, said GM has determined that the “sweet spot” for electric cars is a range of 300 miles, which balances cost against capability, and that styling is important along with a robust charging infrastructure. GM this week began a collaboration with EVgo, ChargePoint and Greenlots to integrate a network of 31,000 charge points with its plug-in cars.

Perhaps most significant, Reuss said GM is aiming to be the first automaker to build electric cars that are both profitable and attainable and that it would be investing earnings from its strong-selling models of today, like traditional pickups and SUVs, in electrification. The profitability comment may have been a reference to Tesla, which has been struggling to bring its production costs down low enough to start selling its long-promised $35,000 model.

GM will be looking for some help from the federal government, however. CEO Mary Barra reiterated the company’s position that the federal government should extend its $7,500 electric car tax credit indefinitely. The program currently allows automakers to sell 200,000 qualifying vehicles before entering a year-long phase-out period. GM crossed that threshold at the end of 2018.

Along with the Cadillac, GM is scheduled to launch at least 20 electric cars worldwide by 2023, with a particular focus on China, which is heavily promoting the adoption of the technology.