Mary Barra outlines GM’s road map for safer, better and more sustainable transportation solutions
GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra discussed GM’s road map for the future of personal mobility at a press conference in Shanghai on Friday. The company’s goal is to address challenges such as crashes, pollution, and congestion that have come with growing urbanization. According to Barra, “By working together, we can solve these challenges and deliver safer, better, and more sustainable transportation solutions for all of our customers.”
GM believes the future of personal mobility will be driven by the convergence of electrification, autonomous vehicles, and connectivity and shared mobility services. China is playing a key role in the company’s strategy.
Electrification is an important element of GM’s global strategy to reduce CO2 emissions, reduce petroleum use, and help customers save money. “Our modern-day leadership in electrification is not new,” said Barra. “Our engineers have continually built upon our experience.”
An example is the Chevrolet Bolt EV introduced in the U.S. late last year. It achieves approximately 383 km (238 mi) of range per charge and has already logged 45 million km (28 million mi) on the road, according to GM.
Like the U.S., GM says China is a key market for its electrification solutions. Between 2016 and 2020, GM is rolling out at least 10 new energy vehicles (NEVs) in China. They include the Cadillac CT6 Plug-In, the Buick Velite 5 extended-range electric vehicle, and the Baojun E100 electric vehicle, which have all been introduced locally within the past 12 months.
By 2025, GM says nearly all models from its global brands in China—Buick, Cadillac, and Chevrolet—will offer electrification technology. To support the company’s growing NEV fleet planned for China, its SAIC-GM joint venture is opening a new battery assembly plant in Shanghai this year.
According to GM, self-driving cars can significantly avoid accidents and crashes caused by human behavior, and eventually lead to safer transportation. To get to this future, GM says it is pursuing both an evolutionary path with technologies such as Super Cruise, and a revolutionary path with autonomous vehicles.
In June, GM reportedly became the first automaker to use mass-production methods for autonomous vehicles. One hundred-thirty autonomous test vehicles equipped with GM’s next generation of self-driving technology were produced at the Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan and joined the more than 50 autonomous vehicles already deployed in testing fleets in San Francisco; Scottsdale, Arizona; and metro Detroit.
In the meantime, GM is developing advanced driver assist systems that will form the foundation for self-driving vehicles. GM has been testing and validating Super Cruise hand-free driving assistance technology in the U.S. and China. It will first be rolled out this fall in the U.S. in the Cadillac CT6 and introduced in a future Cadillac product in China.
According to Barra, customers do not just appreciate connected vehicles, they demand them. Shared, autonomous vehicles have the potential to greatly reduce congestion in large cities such as Shanghai while still providing on-demand transportation.
GM has been involved in the connectivity space for more than 20 years through OnStar. In China, OnStar already has more than a million customers. GM’s goal is to have all of its Cadillac, Buick, and Chevrolet models in China connected by 2020. This is setting the stage for deploying connected vehicle technology to improve safety and relieve congestion by allowing vehicles to communicate with one another and the infrastructure.
GM says Vehicle to Everything (V2X) represents one of its most promising solutions. GM has been helping lead the development of China’s V2X application layer standard. It is also one of the authors of the China Intelligent and Connected Vehicle Road Map, which provides a guideline for the R&D activities of manufacturers and future policy development by the government.
GM’s investment in China’s leading car-sharing technology provider Yi Wei Xing and a vehicle sharing pilot program with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which completed in May, are helping GM to better understand how customers in China can use urban mobility vehicles in a real-world setting and a vehicle-sharing arrangement.
“GM and our joint ventures are committed to providing world-class products for our customers in China, as well as the technical and business expertise to lead in the future of personal mobility,” said Barra. “No single company or organization has all the answers to the challenges we currently face or expect to face in the future.”
Barra participated in the International Business Leaders Advisory Council for the Mayor of Shanghai (IBLAC) on September 17 to share GM’s global perspectives with the Shanghai government.