NEW YORK, Oct 7 ― General Motors (GM) unveiled plans yesterday to double revenues by 2030 as it ramps up electric vehicle production, and in 2023 launch an automobile that can be operated hands-free in most situations.

Building on a series of earlier electric vehicle investment announcements, the big US automaker said it was on track to rapidly scale up its EV business, which will include a vehicle priced at US$30,000 (RM125,541), cheaper than offerings from Tesla and other rivals.

Executives also described a series of new or expanded businesses in car insurance, digital subscriptions and government sales that will bolster the business.

“The vehicle has become a software platform,” Chief Executive Mary Barra said at a briefing with reporters ahead of a two-day investor presentation. “There are so many growth opportunities we have.”

GM announced that its “Ultra Cruise” programme, set to launch in 2023 on a premium vehicle, would enable hands-free operation in 95 percent of driving scenarios.

It also said it plans to unveil an all-electric Silverado pickup truck at the CES technology event in January.

Earlier yesterday, GM said it signed a memorandum of understanding with General Electric to collaborate on the sourcing of rare materials used to manufacture electric vehicles and renewable energy equipment.

Barra reiterated the goal of a “world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion” and said the company has transformed itself from “automaker to platform innovator, with customers at the centre.” 

In June, GM pledged to boost spending on EV and autonomous technology by 30 per cent to US$35 billion through 2025, part of a strategy to launch 30 new electric models by that year.

Using US$140 billion as a baseline, GM said it would double annual revenues by the end of the decade, with EV revenues jumping from US$10 billion to about US$90 billion annually by 2030.

The company's outlook also incorporates some US$50 billion in annual revenues from the commercialization of its Cruise business and another US$20-US$25 billion in annual software and services revenue.

But GM's push into EVs has not been without challenges. The company announced in August a second recall of its Chevrolet Bolt to address a battery defect blamed for car fires.

GM also withdrew from a planned investment in Nikola, an EV startup formerly led by Trevor Milton, who was indicted by the Department of Justice in July on three counts of fraud.

Hands-free driving

GM executives touted the company's latest offerings in driver assistance technology, with Ultra Cruise set to debut on premium vehicles for the 2023 season, which will be introduced in late 2022. They declined to name models that would have this function.

Barra said Ultra Cruise would operate effectively in “most” urban and rural scenarios, except for cases such as “very complex” intersections.

“Customers will be able to travel truly hands free with Ultra Cruise across nearly every road including city streets and subdivision streets and paved rural roads in addition to highways,” GM said in a statement.

The programme has 360-degree perception around the vehicle and employs cameras, radars and sensors to enable a vehicle to follow speed limits, automatically change lanes and avoid close objects.

GM said the new programme builds on its Super Cruise driver-assistance feature, which is currently available on the Cadillac and will be expanded to six models in 2022 and to 22 by 2023.

The Cadillac website describes Super Cruise as “the first true hands-free driving-assistance feature for compatible roads,” adding, “Always pay attention while driving and when using Super Cruise. Do not use a handheld device.”

HM shares fell 0.8 per cent to US$53.93. They have risen more than 75 per cent over the last year. ― AFP