Sub-$40,000 EVs can’t yet be profitable, says GM CEO

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said in a conference Friday that EVs selling for less than $40,000 can’t be profitable just yet. It’s an unexpected statement from the head of an automaker that’s been fairly optimistic about affordable EVs.

As reported by Reuters, Barra told conference attendees that EV battery costs are still too high to build profitable vehicles at high volumes selling for between $30,000 and $40,000, but predicted that EV internal-combustion vehicle costs will achieve parity “sometime in the latter part of this decade … maybe a little longer.”

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Barra also said Tesla still has the lead in EV technology, profitability, and scale, but added that lead won’t be permanent. And she said GM has moved too slowly with EV launches in China—the world’s largest new car market and a strong one for EVs. New Chevrolet and Cadillac EVs launching in China over the next 18 months will help rebuild market share there, she said.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., GM already offers the sub-$40,000 Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV. It dropped the price of both variants for the 2023 model year, although they’re now slated to be discontinued.

But GM has promised a base 250-mile version of its 2024 Chevy Equinox EV with a $30,000 base price—an EV that, based on Barra’s latest statement, may not turn a profit.

Green Car Reports has reached out to Chevrolet for clarity on whether this might change any of GM’s product plans for affordable EVs.

2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV

2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV

GM has been predicting future profitability for mass-market EVs since 2017, when it announced that it would seek to make profitable, affordable EVs in big numbers. In 2018 it promised that it could make money on all-electric cars by 2021, and a year later suggested EVs could be profitable early in the decade. Just last year, GM said EVs would be profitable by 2025 thanks to anticipated federal incentives.

GM’s future EV plans center on its Ultium hardware, which GM president Mark Reuss has said will be profitable from Day One. So it’s unclear how the $30,000 Chevy Equinox EV—one of those Ultium models—fits into the seemingly conflicting statements from Barra and Reuss. Do those larger, pricier EVs like the GMC Hummer EV and Chevy Silverado EV have enough baked-in profits to offset the loss?

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