Nearly every automaker has electric cars in the works, but a top General Motors executive said today it will be the first to sell them profitably.

“We know the customers would like to drive electric cars but are unwilling to pay any more for them,” said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president for product development. “That’s why we’re going to be the first company to sell electric vehicles that people can afford at a profit.”

Reuss’ remarks followed similar sentiment from CEO Mary Barra to reporters in Flint, Mich., but they did not specify how soon the profitability would happen.

The key all-electric product GM now has is the 238-mile-range Chevy Bolt EV priced from $37,495. It is still rolling out across the entire U.S. through this summer, but as a global company, GM is planning more, including 10 plug-in vehicles in its biggest market in China.

According to the Detroit Bureau, Reuss said its plan to cut costs is relatively comprehensive and includes the components that have set back automakers until now from turning plug-in cars into a profit center.

“What we’ve been working to do is taking mass out. What that sets us up to do is have more efficient batteries because it doesn’t take as much power to [move] the vehicle,” Reuss said. “We own our own battery chemistry. We integrate the pack and we have our own electric motors. We own all that design.

“The integration piece of that is something no one else has,” he added, “You have to integrate the whole car. We feel really good about that.”


Another way in which battery costs would come down is by expansion of all-electric autonomous vehicles.

“if you can increase [usage] drive the operating cost you can open the door to ride sharing,” said Reuss.

Last month Chevrolet sold 1,229 Bolt EVs; a healthy number above March’s 978 that yet lags the sales rate of its extended-range electric Volt which is thoroughly rolled out to the U.S. The Volt sold 1,807, itself down from 2,132 in March.

Calendar year to date, the Bolt has sold 4,384 units, and the Volt has sold 7,370.

The Detroit Bureau