General Motors Co. (GM)

General Motors' Mark Reuss: The electric car is not dead

Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America, defended the electric car market in his remarks to the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.

Following are his comments on the electrica car:

  • Moving on, the fourth “trending theme” also played a part in the show this week, and it’s another urban myth.
  • And that is this: The electric car is not dead.
  • That’s despite what you might hear, and despite what you might read about Americans not being ready for it, or about it being “under attack” by local governments retracting incentives for it.
  • You read about cities like Los Angeles canceling free parking for electric cars.
  • Or you read about states like Washington instituting a $100 registration fee for electric cars.
  • Funny thing about the authorities… when they think they’re missing out on lost fees and revenues from one place, they find ‘em in another place.
  • Or you hear pundits criticizing slow sales of electric vehicles and you might think, “See? The electric car is a failure… it’s dead on arrival.”
  • You might think that, but you’d be wrong.
  • We’re talking about a transformation here. And transformation takes time.
  • It takes a long time to change an industry, to change habits, and to change a way of life.
  • I believe, and we at GM believe that the public will accept and embrace electric vehicles; some people already have.
  • And the rest of them will come around when technology advances electric vehicles to the point where they offer comparable performance at comparable prices.
  • We’ll get there. We will see the day when we have an affordable electric car that offers 300 miles of range with all the comfort and utility of a conventional vehicle.
  • In the meantime, we have one that offers that kind of extended range in the Chevrolet Volt, which, by the way, tripled its sales last year vs. 2011, and whose owners continue to be the happiest customers on the planet.
  • We couldn’t be happier with that, or with the Volt itself… with what it means to this company and with what it did last year, despite the unprecedented political beat-down it took.
  • It’s going to sell even more, and the next generation will be even better.
  • And, of course, this week, we added the ELR, an extended range electric vehicle for Cadillac, the only full-line luxury marque to offer one.
  • ELR is in a class by itself, further proof of our commitment to electric vehicles and advanced technology.
  • People will instantly recognize it as a Cadillac by its distinctive, signature look and true-to-concept exterior design.
  • Inside, it will have everything you’d expect in a Cadillac: luxury, comfort, sophistication and CUE.
  • It also has features like Safety Seat Alert, adaptive cruise control, cross traffic alert, and Re-gen on Demand, which allows the driver to use steering wheel paddles to temporarily regenerate energy from the car’s momentum.
  • Production of the ELR should begin in the fourth quarter, and we expect the car to do very well because of its highly advanced technology… and because of its stunning beauty.
  • And that brings me to my fifth and final point that I’d like to mention, something also evident at Cobo this week.
  • And that is the current state of GM, the other domestics and the auto industry as a whole.
  • I think that, much like the electric vehicle, a lot of people have written obituaries far too early.
  • This industry moved almost 15 million vehicles in 2012. That’s more than most people expected, sooner than they expected.
  • And it’s great news for everyone in this room, and everyone in this country.
  • Automakers anchor an industry that supports 8 million U.S. jobs, pays $500 billion in wages, and generates $70 billion in personal tax revenue.