This week General Motors outlined its accomplishments and commitments to electrified vehicles, carsharing, mobility, and autonomous vehicles in its annual Sustainability Report.
In a letter to stakeholders, GM’s chairman and CEO Mary Barra said she believes the auto industry will be changing more in the next five years than it has in the last 50. Consumers will have more options and modes of transportation.
“This gives us an unprecedented opportunity to develop cleaner, safer, smarter and more environmentally friendly vehicles for our customers,” Barra wrote in the letter.
GM says it is making strides forward in “alternative propulsion,” a category that covers hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery electric vehicles. Last year, the second-generation Chevrolet Volt was introduced, which is more capable and efficient than the first-generation Volt, Barra said. The automaker is building on the technology that enables the Volt to start production of the Chevrolet Bolt this year.
“By putting truly cutting-edge technology within the reach of so many customers, Bolt EV cracks the code of affordability and long range,” Barra said.
Barra cited the all-new new Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, which gets combined city-highway fuel economy of 46 miles per gallon, as an accomplishment for the company. GM will be launching an all-new Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid in 2017. In China, GM plans to introduce 10 alternative-propulsion vehicles in the next five years, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery electric vehicles. GM also expects to be the first foreign automaker to open a battery assembly plant in China.
In a separate company statement, GM reported that nine of its vehicle models have achieved an EPA-estimated 40 mpg on the highway or better, up from six last year. GM’s electrified vehicles sold and out on the roads increased nine percent to 196,861 vehicles. That was up nearly 9 percent from 180,834 in 2014, and 153,034 in 2013.
On the carsharing front, GM launched program in Germany, China, and New York City. New programs in Chicago and Ann Arbor, Mich., were combined under the new Maven brand this year. Maven offers users to customized on-demand mobility services by bringing into their vehicles digital services like OnStar, 4G LTE wireless, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM.
Maven was announced soon after GM’s strategic alliance investment in ridesharing service Lyft in early 2016. GM says Lyft is the “fastest-growing ridesharing company in the U.S.,” and will lead to creating an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the U.S. In the meantime, Lyft drivers can tap into short-term-use GM vehicles through a number of U.S. rental hubs.
This year in February, created a new Autonomous and Technology Vehicle Development team. That was established to capitalize on GM’s deep engineering talent and speed the arrival of self-driving cars, Barra said. This move ties into the pending acquisition of San Francisco–based Cruise Automation, which GM describes as a leading startup in autonomous technology. Another step forward will be introducing “Super Cruise” technology on the Cadillac CT6 in 2017. Super Cruise is a highway driving automation technology that will enable hands-free driving, even in stop-and-go traffic.
Barra’s letter to stakeholders ended with a summary of accomplishments on the vehicle manufacturing side of the business. GM used less energy and water, generated less waste, and emitted less carbon while manufacturing vehicles during 2015 than had ever been accomplished in previous years. Barra said that GM’s focus on efficiency also extended to materials and logistics, where the company saved approximately $2 billion during 2015.
GM is also one of the largest users on renewable energy in the world through its solar, landfill gas, hydro, and waste-to-energy applications, according to Barra. The company has used renewable energy to reduce the overall carbon footprint of its facilities and save more than $80 million. In 2016, GM expects to add 64 megawatts of wind power to its renewable energy portfolio.