GM Bringing Back Plug-In Hybrids With SUVs and Pickups as Possibilities
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GM Bringing Back Plug-In Hybrids With SUVs and Pickups as Possibilities

GM plug-in hybrid Chevy Silverado on open highway in Nevada
  • After problems with the Ultium EV platform, GM is looking to offer more electrified options. 
  • The last PHEV GM vehicle in the U.S. was the 2019 Chevrolet Volt, but the automaker sells the Buick Velite 6 PHEV in China. 
  • CEO Mary Barra claims that EV price is a barrier to adoption, and the best price point is in the $40,000 range. 

While the Chevy Bolt continues to be a best-seller from General Motors, the automaker is struggling to get a foothold with other electric vehicles. Recently, CEO Mary Barra has announced that GM will begin offering plug-in hybrids, possibly starting with the Chevy Equinox or Chevy Silverado.


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GM planned to release several electric vehicles in 2023 and 2024, but the automaker halted production thanks to issues with the infotainment and charging systems. After stopping sales of the Chevy Blazer EV, the automaker is expected to lower the prices when sales restart soon. 


Steady Sales for Cadillac and GMC EVs

With the discontinued Chevy Bolt and the halted Blazer EV sales, GM has only a few EVs on dealership lots: the Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV Pickup and SUV.

The Lyriq has been selling steadily, with 3,820 units delivered in the fourth quarter of 2023. The luxury EV outperformed the competition, other than the Tesla Model Y, according to GM Authority.

GMC Hummer EV sales numbers were low in 2023, as GM Authority reports a total of 3,244 models sold all year. The low Hummer EV sales make sense as the MSRP is well over $100,000. 


Shifting from EVs to PHEVs

Prior to the problems with the Ultium platform, GM had a goal of selling 400,000 EVs between 2022 and 2024. Needless to say, GM won’t reach the goal. Now, the automaker is turning its focus to PHEV powertrains on some models. Many expect a full-size PHEV truck or SUV will be the first model, but some expect that GM will use a plug-in hybrid model already for sale in another market. 

General Motors already sells PHEVs in China. 


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The Chevy Volt and the Buick Velite 6

Image care of Chevrolet

Five years ago, Chevy stopped manufacturing the Chevy Volt. This plug-in hybrid had seating for five and was available in two trims. The Chevy Volt’s PHEV powertrain included a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors and an 18.4-kWh battery pack. The Volt got up to 53 miles of all-electric range, which is outstanding for a plug-in hybrid EV. 

General Motors sells the Buick Velite 6 in China. This PHEV — which resembles the Volt — is outfitted with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder, two electric motors, a continuously-variety automatic transmission, and a 9.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It delivers 181 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. An Equinox PHEV is on the horizon in the Chinese market. 


Upping the Battery Range

Image care of Jeep

A 9.5-kWh battery pack is small compared to options in the U.S. market. For example, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe (the top-selling PHEV in the U.S. market) has a 17.3-kWh battery pack, while the popular Hyundai Tucson PHEV has a 13.8-kWh battery pack.


Image care of Hyundai

With a Level 2 charger, these battery packs need about 2.5 hours to reach a full charge, and they deliver around 25 miles of all-electric range. 


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Benefits of PHEVs

Adding plug-in hybrid options to the GM lineup could be good for sales. Drivers appreciate having electrified mobility around town and gasoline-powered engines for road trips. PHEVs offer the best of both worlds.

If GM were to assemble PHEVs with American-sourced battery components, shoppers could potentially take advantage of federal tax credits


Image care of Chevrolet

In a recent interview on Linkedin, Barra commented on EV barriers — especially price. She commented that the most popular EV price segment is the $40,000 range and that few EVs are actually priced in that range. Hopefully, she’ll take her own advice and offer the new GM plug-in hybrid models at $40,000 or less.

According to Chevrolet, the MSRP for the top Equinox Premier AWD begins at $34,795. A PHEV version will most likely have a slightly higher sticker price because of the complicated engineering under the hood.


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IMAGES: GENERAL MOTORS

FTC: We use income-earning auto affiliate links. Learn more.

AUTHOR: 

KRISTEN BENTLEY

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