GM: Seeing as all y'all like our electric cars, we'll double output next year

EV sales still barely more than fringe in USA

General Motors has had such a good third quarter, CEO Mary Barra told shareholders Tuesday, that the automaker is planning to nearly double the number of Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUVs it makes next year, from 44,000 to 70,000.

That's electric vehicles and electric utility vehicles.

Affirming GM's earnings guidance for the rest of the year, Barra said [PDF] the company had a three months in which it set a third-quarter revenue record of $41.9 billion (£36.6b).

It's also a stark and surprising reversal from the prior quarter, when GM missed Wall Street estimates due to underproduction of vehicles, which it blamed on continuing supply chain issues.

The sea change this quarter was due not only to easing shortages among said supply chains, but also to the company's growing influence in the US electric vehicle market, Barra said. 

"We also earned more than 8 percent of the US electric vehicle market in the third quarter thanks to record sales of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV," Barra said, adding that combined sales of the Bolt vehicles outperformed Ford's rival Mach-E by more than two to one in September.

A mere eight percent may not seem like much, but it's significant. According to Kelly Blue Book's quarterly EV sales report for Q3 [PDF], Chevrolet was the second-largest EV seller for the quarter behind Tesla, which sold tens of thousands more EVs in Q3 than GM. 

EV sales in the US market totaled 6.1 percent of vehicle purchases in Q3, continuing quarterly positive growth in electric vehicle sales.

Barra said the newly revealed Chevrolet Equinox, Silverado and Blazer EVs, as well as the GMC Sierra EV, were the "cornerstones of our strategy to rapidly grow EV volumes by winning in high-volume segments." The Bolt's role in the equation, Barra said, would be to serve as an EV entry point for consumers who GM could later convert to higher-value EVs for future purchases. 

GM may have been planning all along to increase the volume of Bolt production in 2023, as Barra reaffirmed comments from last quarter that GM still had all the raw battery material commitments it needed to reach "more than 1 million units of annual EV capacity in North America in 2025."

The car maker has leaned hard into becoming an EV manufacturer, and it's been gaining steam in 2022. In July, its new EV battery partnership with LG, Ultium Cells LLC, was awarded $2.5 billion in DoE subsidies to build three new battery plants in the American midwest. Earlier this month, GM also announced plans to compete directly with Tesla in the stationary battery market, but revealed little of what its products would be capable of. In her letter to investors, Barra said a fourth plant was being planned as well.

Despite the good quarter and the rise in EV market share, GM's overall US sales slumped from Q2 to Q3. Many of the gains leading to the record Q3 were made in the Asia-Pacific and South American markets, leading to a global increase in units sold from 1.4 million in Q2 to 1.53 million in Q3, and those record-setting profits.

It's worth pointing out that, even with unimpressive US sales, GM still sold the most cars in the US for the quarter. ®

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