GM expects to spend more on EVs than gas-powered cars in next five years: CEO

Source: By Ben Klayman in Detroit and David Shepardson in Washington, Reuters • Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Motors Co expects to spend more on developing and selling electric vehicles (EVs) than gasoline-powered cars over the next five years, Chief Executive Mary Barra said on Tuesday.

Barra was responding to a question from an analyst on the No. 1 U.S. automaker’s earnings conference call when she said she believed EVs would see more of the research and development and capital spending dollars in that time period.

She also said EVs will require “somewhat less” labor than gas-powered cars. The United Auto Workers union, which just ratified a new four-year labor deal with the Detroit automaker, has expressed concern about U.S. employment levels in the future as EVs make up a larger share of the market.

Barra emphasized gas-powered vehicles will make up a large portion of U.S. sales into the 2030s. She added that the company’s engine and transmission plants will not be threatened and EVs will have needs for components as well.

Barra also said the new UAW labor deal does not limit how many EVs the company can build. GM plans to invest $3 billion in its Detroit-Hamtramck plant to build electric trucks and vans and battery modules, according to a letter it sent to the UAW this month as part of contract talks.

GM has been shifting more resources to EVs from gasoline-powered vehicles for more than a year. It restructured much of its engineering and white-collar workforce after it cut about 8,000 salaried jobs, or roughly 15% of its North American white-collar workforce.

Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president for global electrification, said in February at a national ethanol conference that at one point he led an 8,000-person global organization that was entirely focused on internal combustion engines and “then we moved to about a 70% ICE, 30% electrification split. Now are we are flipping that from 70% ICE to just 30% ICE and focusing 70% on electrification.”

Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit and David Shepardson in WashingtonEditing by Nick Zieminski and Cynthia Osterman