technology and science

Slow Battery Production Crimps G.M.’s Electric Vehicle Rollout

General Motors is investing tens of billions of dollars to produce a bevy of new electric vehicles and, it hopes, catch up to Tesla.

But the automaker appears far from achieving those ambitious goals. This year, it is struggling to produce a new type of electric car battery pack meant for the electric vehicles it plans to introduce over the next several years.

“It’s been a little bit challenging,” the company’s chief financial officer, Paul Jacobson, said in a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon.

In the first half of this year, G.M. built just 50,000 electric vehicles, and most of them used an older battery pack made by a supplier. In the United States, G.M. sold fewer than 2,800 vehicles that used its new, modular Ultium battery packs, being made at an Ohio factory that the company owns with LG Energy Solution. Two other Ultium factories are under construction, in Tennessee and Michigan.

G.M. once said it planned to make 400,000 electric vehicles in North America from 2022 to 2024, and more than one million in 2025, the vast majority of which were supposed to use Ultium technology.

Mr. Jacobson said that the company expected to make 100,000 battery-powered vehicles in the second half of 2023, and that he would provide more information on production plans on Tuesday in a conference call with financial analysts.

For now, the sluggish rollout isn’t hurting the company’s bottom line. G.M. said on Tuesday that it made a profit of $2.6 billion from April to June, an increase of 52 percent from a year earlier. Revenue totaled $44.7 billion, up 25 percent.

Mr. Jacobson said the company had benefited from higher prices and strong sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles in North America. The average price of the vehicles that G.M. sold in the second quarter was $52,000 — about $1,600 more than in the first quarter of the year.

G.M. sold 833,000 cars and trucks in North America in the second quarter, a 26 percent increase from a year earlier. In the rest of the world, it sold 147,000 vehicles, about 8,000 fewer than a year earlier.

While the strong profits are welcome, many investors are increasingly worried about the company’s electric vehicle strategy because such vehicles are the fastest-growing segment of the auto industry.

A big fear for investors is that G.M., Ford Motor and other large automakers could quickly lose customers as more drivers buy battery-powered cars. In China, Europe and California, where electric vehicles already account for a significant and growing share of new car sales, once dominant automakers like Volkswagen and Toyota have been losing market share to Tesla and Chinese automakers like BYD.

Two years ago, G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, said the company aimed to double annual revenue by 2030, to about $280 billion. Much of the increased business is supposed to come from electric vehicles, and new revenue streams from software and services linked to those cars and trucks. The company has also set a goal of phasing out production of internal-combustion models by 2035.

Right now, G.M. is “way behind where they should be,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, a consulting firm. “If they’re having trouble with the first wave of these new E.V.s, and if they can’t roll them out, that’s not good for the next wave of higher-volume models.”

G.M. currently offers only a few niche vehicles that use Ultium battery packs. They include the Cadillac Lyriq, an S.U.V.; the GMC Hummer, which has a starting price of about $90,0000; and large delivery vans made by a new division called BrightDrop.

This summer and fall, G.M. is supposed to add three electric Chevrolets — the Blazer and Equinox S.U.V.s and an electric Silverado pickup. The company had previously said the Silverado would go on sale in the spring, but the truck is now not expected until the fall.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button