General Motors, the company that President Biden claimed is “leading the world” in electric vehicles, has successfully redefined the term, “leading.” The company announced that its total sales for Q4 2021 were 440,745 vehicles, down 43%. Of those 440,745 vehicles, only 26 were EVs. If this is leading the market, I hate to think what President Biden thinks failure is.
GM noted that it’s Chevrolet Bolt EV sales dropped 99.63% to 25 units, and that it sold one Hummer EV pickup.
— David Havasi (@daveydo2000) January 6, 2022
Steve Carlisle, GM Executive Vice President and President at GM North America, spoke of how GM’s focus was more on high-demand products.
“All year we focused on delivering as many of our high demand, capacity-constrained products as possible and the strategy worked. Our dealers and our engineering, supply chain, manufacturing and brand teams moved mountains to satisfy as many customers as possible in 2021, despite record low inventories caused by semiconductor supply chain issues during the third and fourth quarters.”
There is another valid reason as to why GM hasn’t sold that many Bolts. GM had to recall over 140,000 Bolts for battery fire risk in August of last year and has mostly kept its Orion Assembly production plant closed since then. It seems they opened it for just a couple of weeks in November to make replacement Bolts for customers who were waiting on recall repairs.
A GM spokesman told The Detroit News in December that this situation will continue in 2022.
“GM has notified employees at Orion Assembly the plant will extend downtime through February 2022 to continue prioritizing recall repairs. We will continue to inform employees at the appropriate time of any additional production schedule adjustments, as we continue to focus on battery module replacements.”
The article also added that GM has plans to transition the plant to make electric trucks based on the company’s new Ultium electric platform. GM submitted a tax-exemption request to Orion Township to invest $160 million for a new battery pack assembly line at the plant.
Tesla Owners Club of Silicon Valley tweeted that GM sold a total of 26 EVs in Q4 2021 and tagged Elon Musk, who replied, “Room to improve ….”
Room to improve …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 5, 2022
Observer reported that Elon Musk was being sarcastic in that reply and that he was laughing at GM. I don’t see his reply in that same light. If Elon was mocking GM, he would have posted a meme or made a few other tweets. However, Elon is known to congratulate both Tesla’s and SpaceX’s competitors when they make achievements.
I think Elon was being honest. GM has a lot of room to improve and despite its struggles at making an EV, has taken President Biden’s praise too literally. It’s great that the president is supporting automakers that want to make EVs, but it’s not great that the president is completely ignoring Tesla’s success and how it’s helped position America into a leadership position of next-generation clean energy vehicles. Legacy automakers from the US, Europe, and Asia are all following Tesla’s lead years after believing that bringing an EV to the mass market would be impossible. (Tesla sold more than 300,000 EVs in Q4 2021.)
While GM’s EVs are seen as competition to Tesla, they are not, which was proven by Q4’s results. However, its 440,719 ICE vehicles sold are a direct competition to Tesla and its mission, along with the millions of other ICE vehicles produced and sold.
GM EV Reality — And Why It’s Important
I think that GM did the right thing by closing its Bolt production plant down after the recall. Safety should be the first priority. And we should remember that this is the reason why its Q4 results are low. However, GM is clearly not leading the world in electric vehicles.
This has to be pointed out, especially while GM’s jumping up and down on that praise, which makes the company look like a fool. CEO Mary Barra’s presentation at CES 2022 yesterday again made reference to GM “leading” on EVs. GM should think of its shareholders, customers, and employees in this regard. You want to be seen as a leader but instead of leading, you go on TV and soak up the praise. And then at the end of the day, you haven’t led and it shows.
This is also bad for EVs and gives EVs a bad rep in the eyes of the American people. The average American doesn’t follow EVs, Tesla, GM, or these topics as closely as we do here. They go to work and in most cases and their focus is on surviving, working, paying bills, rinse and repeat. They may catch news about GM “leading” and then when they can’t go and buy an EV from GM, this cements in their minds that maybe EVs are only for the rich or maybe EVs aren’t that great. How many then end up getting an ICE vehicle instead?
Hopefully, GM will solve its problems with the Bolt. The new Chevy Silverado EV truck has many people excited. So, hopefully, the company will indeed make EVs more accessible to the average American, but it’s not there yet, and no one should pretend it is.
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.