General Motors said it would introduce two new all-electric models within 18 months as part of a broader plan toward what the company says is its ultimate goal of an emissions-free fleet.
DETROIT — In a push to produce cars powered by batteries or fuel cells, General Motors on Monday laid out a strategy to vastly expand the number of electric models in the marketplace.
GM said it would introduce two new all-electric models within 18 months as part of a broader plan toward what the company says is its ultimate goal of an emissions-free fleet. The two models will be the first of at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that GM plans to bring out by 2023.
The announcement came a day before a long-scheduled investor presentation by Ford Motor that was also expected to emphasize electric models. After the GM news emerged, Ford let loose its own plan, saying it would add 13 electrified models in the next several years.
With governments from China to California considering stiff regulations to encourage the production of emissions-free vehicles, other major automakers are also stepping up efforts to broaden their electric offerings. German automaker Volkswagen has pledged to introduce a number of new battery-powered models in the next few years. And the electric carmaker Tesla is ramping up production of its new Model 3 sedan, which has generated huge interest in the form of $1,000 deposits from hundreds of thousands of potential buyers.
GM’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, announced in September that the company, the United States’ largest automaker, expected the industry to move aggressively toward an automotive future with zero emissions, traffic accidents and highway congestion.
The company has set no time frame for an all-electric portfolio of products and expects to continue making cars and trucks powered by gasoline engines for an indefinite time.
Mark Reuss, the company’s chief of global product development, said Monday that GM would introduce two new all-electric vehicles derived from its current battery-powered Chevrolet Bolt sedan.
“General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Reuss said at a media event at the company’s technical center in the Detroit suburb of Warren. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.”
He declined to specify what type of new models will be built off the Bolt’s underpinnings, but the chief of GM’s electrification strategy, Pam Fletcher, said the company is focusing on the development of sport-utility vehicles and car-based crossover models.
Fletcher said the Bolt, a compact hatchback that was introduced late last year and is now on sale nationwide, has helped GM “see what is possible” in a future lineup of all-electric models.
Ford said it intended to accelerate development of electric cars as part of a broader business strategy that will be laid out Tuesday by its new chief executive, Jim Hackett.
Ford already fields several slow-selling hybrid, battery-powered and plug-in models, and has said it would spend $4.5 billion during the next five years to add to its offerings. It also plans to add hybrid versions of big SUVs, like the Ford Explorer.
Now the company has formed a group it calls Team Edison to focus on pure battery-electric cars, said Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification.
By 2020, Ford plans to produce an electric car that can go 300 miles before needing a recharge, Marakby said. “That’s a big change,” he said, compared with the early electric models that could go fewer than 100 miles, making them impractical for many consumers.
Reuss, of GM, said that achieving a zero-emissions future would require more than battery technology, and stressed that his company was also moving forward with hydrogen-fuel-cell equipment that can generate electric power.
“There is a transition going on,” said Reuss, adding that GM has no set timetable to eliminate gasoline engines from its vehicles. He said that by the 2023 target date for the new electric models, GM will still be building cars, trucks and SUVs with internal-combustion engines.
The electric-vehicle news gave GM’s stock a jolt, boosting it 4.4 percent Monday.
Reuss said the company was not expecting job losses based on a shift away from gasoline engines, which currently account for a vast majority of the company’s production. And he said GM did not expect to be hurt financially by a move toward electric models, which can carry higher price tags than comparably sized gasoline-powered vehicles.
“The future will be profitable,” he said.
Behind Reuss during his presentation were nine vehicles covered with tarps that the company said were among the 20 to be unveiled by 2023, The Associated Press reported. GM pulled away the tarps on three of them, clay models of low-slung Buick and Cadillac SUVs and a futuristic version of the Bolt that looked like half of an airport control tower glued to the top of a car body. The rest remained covered.
The company wouldn’t allow photographs of the vehicles, and it wouldn’t say if any of the vehicles it showed were the ones coming in the next 18 months.