Wednesday I got to meet up with GM exec Jim Federico, Executive Director of Engineering, Electric Vehicles at the L.A. Auto Show. I got to ask some of my own questions as well as those you readers posed as part of the ticket contest I was able to run. It was an interesting visit, certainly a lot of information with some answers as well. Where to start with the questions and answers is my big dilemma.
Al Pavangkanan posed the question regarding new battery technology. Jim couldn’t give specifics of what they have in store but did say that they are working with the battery suppliers to develop new technologies that will give us more power for the size compared to what we have now. The problem all the manufacturers have run into is that there isn’t a rush to develop batteries as there isn’t really a market demand for them yet in quantities to offset their costs. Those costs affect what we pay for an EV now, but as demand increases, production increases there will be more incentive to develop new battery technology and help lower costs.
GM has several Electric vehicles coming our way. In answer to reader Gzank6 I got multiple answers regarding the sticker shock of an EV. Short term, yes we will see more affordable EV’s as well as more expensive luxurious ones coming our way from GM. Short term we will be seeing the Spark EV due this spring in Los Angeles that will be priced “much less” than the Volt. The Spark EV will be an all electric auto. It will be followed by a much more luxurious Cadillac ELR in a couple of years. The ELR will be based on the Volt plug-in gas electrification strategy and designed to fit a premium automobile. Pricing is really affected by the cost of the battery, as demand increases and production increases there will be savings in terms of volume that will enable manufacturers to price the cars lower than we see right now. He couldn’t give me the specifics on other cars coming our way in the near future but could tell me we will see several electrified vehicles in the future.
Ticket winner Buzz posed two questions. First was whether EV’s were just temporary followed by what “green technology” will GM use in the future for market sustainability. Federico stated quite clearly that GM sees Electrification as the future of the automobile. It will come in many forms. From pure EV’s to plug-in to fuel cells. Electric automobiles will be the future regardless of where the electricity comes from whether it be plugging into the power grid, fuel cells or a “1 cylinder diesel” powering an on-board generator. All of those are in GM’s current research plans and we will see it in our cars here in L.A. in the not too distant future.
Reader Doni elle raised several questions. From their being “curiosities” to the issue of infrastructure and lack of support for apartment dwellers in particular. Infrastructure is a problem for the roll out of Electric Vehicles and plug ins. Federico said that GM and the other manufacturers are working with state and local officials to address these concerns. The better the infrastructure to support an EV the better it will be for all of the manufacturers. Right now we are in the infancy of the Electric car and as the market grows we will see many more varieties of cars to suit different drivers needs. This growth is dependant on infrastructure development not just in L.A but across the country, at least here we are eager to get our hands on them.
For reader Genie, the question of carbon foot print was raised. GM addresses in how the car is made where possible and is improving on that. How the car is charged is an infrastructure issue. (My two cents on that topic is that as long as we are generating our power from the burning of fossil fuels instead of clean sources the EV’s will always have a CO2 component to them. I won’t plug another manufacturer here but at least one will offer up a solar option through the dealership selling you the EV that will give you a carbon offset enough to cover the juice needed to charge the car).