GM dealers demand more hybrids as EV sales lag behind

General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker, is facing pressure from some of its dealers to offer more hybrid models, as they fear losing customers who are not ready to switch to fully electric vehicles. GM has been focusing on EVs in recent years, but some dealers say they need more options to meet the demand for fuel-efficient cars.

GM has been investing heavily in EVs, aiming to launch 30 new models by 2025 and become an all-electric company by 2035. The company has also announced plans to build several battery factories and charging stations in the U.S. to support its EV ambitions.

GM dealers demand more hybrids as EV sales lag behind

However, GM’s EV sales have been lagging behind its rivals, such as Tesla, Toyota, and Hyundai, who offer more variety and lower prices. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, GM sold about 21,000 EVs in the U.S. in 2023, accounting for only 6.5% of the total EV market share. In contrast, Tesla sold about 240,000 EVs, capturing 74.4% of the market share.

One of the main challenges for GM is the high cost of EVs, which makes them less affordable for many consumers. The average price of an EV in the U.S. was $55,600 in 2023, compared to $40,200 for a conventional car, according to Kelley Blue Book. GM’s EVs are also more expensive than some of its competitors, such as the Tesla Model 3, which starts at $37,990, and the Hyundai Kona Electric, which starts at $37,390.

Another challenge for GM is the lack of consumer awareness and interest in EVs, especially in rural areas and states with low gas prices. According to a survey by Cox Automotive, only 37% of U.S. car buyers said they were considering an EV for their next purchase in 2023, down from 40% in 2022. The survey also found that 46% of car buyers said they preferred a hybrid over an EV, while 32% said they preferred a gas-powered car.

GM dealers’ plea for more hybrids

Some GM dealers, who serve on advisory committees to the company, have been urging the executives to introduce more hybrid models, which combine a gas engine with a battery and an electric motor, to boost fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Hybrids are seen as a bridge technology that can help customers transition from gas-powered cars to EVs, while offering lower prices and longer ranges.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the dealers’ plea, GM has acknowledged their concerns but has not made any commitments to future hybrid models. GM has largely bypassed hybrids in its strategy, focusing on EVs and gas-powered cars. The company currently offers only one hybrid model in the U.S., the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, which is expected to be discontinued after 2023.

Some dealers said they are worried that GM’s EV-heavy focus will cause them to lose customers to other brands that offer more hybrid options, such as Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Stellantis. Toyota, for example, sold about 560,000 hybrids in the U.S. in 2023, accounting for 25.6% of its total sales. Toyota’s hybrid lineup includes popular models such as the Prius, the RAV4, the Camry, and the Corolla.

GM’s response and outlook

GM has not commented on the dealers’ plea, but has reiterated its commitment to its EV strategy and its financial guidance. The company said that its EVs, such as the Chevrolet Bolt and the GMC Hummer, have received positive feedback from customers and critics, and that it expects to increase its EV production and sales in the coming years.

The company also said that it is working to reduce the cost and increase the range of its EVs, as well as to expand its charging network and battery supply. The company said that it is confident that its EVs will become more competitive and appealing to customers as the technology improves and the market grows.

GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, said in a statement: “We are on a path to an all-electric future, and we are not looking back. We are investing in EVs because we believe they are the future of mobility, and we are committed to delivering the best products and services to our customers. We are confident that our EV strategy will create value for our shareholders, our employees, our dealers, and our society.”

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