- The General Motors president spoke to Insider about electric vehicles as GM moves away from combustion.
- Mark Reuss says ICE and EV teams can coexist.
- He suggested new battery technology could solve grid congestion concerns.
When electric vehicles come to market, there are many misconceptions about the cars and how automakers can remain profitable while abandoning the internal combustion engine, says Mark Reuss, president of General Motors.
GM wants to position itself as a leader in electric vehicles, is investing billions of dollars in electrifying its fleet and promising a future without emissions from fossil fuels. But Reuss said being a long-established car company competing with Tesla, Rivian and Lucid can cause confusion for both consumers and industry experts.
Reuss recently sat down with Insider to clarify some aspects of the EV market as he sees it today.
Companies need hybrids to close the gap to fully-fledged electric vehicles
Some automakers have made the transition to electric lineups with one pit stop: hybrids. Toyota, for example, has invested in hybrids in addition to electric products and has therefore met with skepticism from the industry.
“We will not dilute our investments with hybrids,” Reuss said, adding that the automaker expects its EV business to be profitable by 2025. GM ended production of its last hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt, in 2019.
“If you look at some of the other companies that are doing or have signaled an all-electric deployment, the profitability picture is very different,” Reuss said.
EV and ICE teams need to be separated
Next to Reuss’s computer in his office at GM’s Tech Center is a blue bumper sticker that reads “coexist.”
It’s not your typical Coexist bumper sticker featuring various religious and cultural symbols — this one has internal combustion engine parts and battery parts, signaling GM’s approach to integrating its powertrain engineers.
“That’s the attitude,” said Reuss. “People go back and forth.”
GM’s crosstown rival Ford, meanwhile, recently decided to split its gas-powered and electric vehicle businesses into separate operating divisions to allow the electric vehicle business to operate independently while the gas-powered side of the business continues to feed Ford’s bottom line.
Electric vehicles overload the power grid
Many people worry that the aging electrical infrastructure will not be able to handle an influx of charging car batteries.
According to Reuss, GM and others in the industry are already working to solve this problem with energy storage and vehicle-to-grid power-sharing technology. For GM, this will be handled by a new division called GM Energy, which Reuss said would offer a product designed to send unused energy back to the grid at peak times.
“People say, ‘Oh, there’s no way the grid can support electric vehicles,'” Reuss said. “No, that is not true.”
The charging experience and the driving experience are one and the same
Reuss said it can be frustrating when drivers rate vehicles based solely on the charging experience.
While acknowledging that plug-in infrastructure still has a long way to go, he said GM has built its electric vehicles to go as far between charges as a gas-powered vehicle.
He added that GM is also working on ways to improve charging through partnerships with charging companies and other service stations so drivers can focus on the work engineers have put into the driving experience of vehicles like the Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV .
“It all comes,” said Reuss. “Is it perfect yet? No.”
The consolidation of the charging industry is bad for EV drivers
Even as the EV charging industry heats up, startups that have flooded it in recent years are facing tougher times. A wave of mergers and acquisitions is likely to reduce the number of companies, but Reuss said that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“I don’t think it’s unhealthy,” said Reuss about the campaign. “Not everyone should be able to make easy money with it.
“So I think partnerships can be very, very good,” he added. “The people who recognize this and put the money in the right places for the people will benefit.”