General Motors Co. is working on developing an electric car that has a range of as much as 200 miles (322 kilometers), Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson said.
“There will be breakthroughs in battery technology, they’re on the horizon,” Akerson said today during a presentation at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference broadcast on CNBC.com. “We’re actually developing a car today which is really anathema to the way the auto industry works: We’re running a dual play on the technology to see which one will succeed. One will result in” a 100-mile range, “the other will be a 200-mile range.”
The CEO reiterated GM’s plans to have about 500,000 vehicles on the road by 2017 with some form of electrification, including the Chevrolet Volt, which can go 38 miles on battery power, and he also pointed to work the Detroit-based automaker is doing with diesel and compressed-natural gas, according prepared remarks.
During his speech, Akerson called on President Barack Obama to appoint a commission to develop a 30-year energy policy and said the U.S. should continue to develop all forms of energy, including renewable sources.
“Everywhere you look there are opportunities to seize the energy high ground,” Akerson said in the text of his prepared speech. “Indeed, our leaders have been presented with an historic opportunity to create a national energy policy from a position of strength and abundance. The pillars of such a plan must include energy diversity, so we do not become dependent on any one fuel or energy source.”
Automakers that reduce curb weight of their vehicles by 10 percent should be able to reduce fuel consumption by 6.5 percent, Akerson said.
“Our target is to reduce weight by up to 15 percent.”
GM is bringing out an all-electric version of the Chevrolet Spark subcompact and a diesel version of the compact Chevrolet Cruze this year as two of about 20 new vehicles the company is introducing in the U.S. Akerson is looking to boost market share in the country after it fell to an 88-year-low in 2012.
The Spark will have an electric range of 75 miles to 80 miles, he said.
The automaker’s U.S. sales of cars and light trucks rose 3.7 percent last year, less than the industrywide gain of 13 percent. As a result, GM’s share of the U.S. market slid to 17.9 percent, the lowest since 1924.
As GM lost share, Toyota Motor Corp. gained with U.S. sales of its three brands increasing 27 percent last year to 2.08 million, helped by the introduction of 19 new or refreshed vehicles.
The sales surged helped Toyota outsell GM last year by 460,000 vehicles globally to again become the best-selling automaker in the world. The U.S. automaker finished No. 2, outselling Volkswagen AG by more than 200,000 deliveries. The Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker aims to become the world’s biggest by 2018.