By Pete Brissette
At the Automotive News World Congress event in Detroit on Wednesday, General Motor’s North American operations, Mark Reuss made a staunch case in favor of the future of electric automobiles.
Reuss took considerable time to praise not only the new Corvette, which is GM’s star this week at the also on-going Detroit Auto Show, but also to throw down a gauntlet of continuing support for technologies that this star may in time have to give way to.
Attempting to dispel a modern day myth about alternative fuels vehicles, Reuss said flatly, “The electric car is not dead.”
Citing criticisms of slow electric vehicles (EV) sales and a pulling back on incentives for EV infrastructure by local governments, and state governments like that in Washington saying that EV drivers seemingly haven’t paid their fair share to maintain state roadways, Reuss says that these actions aren’t not harbingers of doom for the EV.
“Funny thing about the authorities… when they think they’re missing out on lost fees and revenues from one place, they find ‘em in another place,” Reuss said. “Or you hear pundits criticizing slow sales of electric vehicles and you might think, ‘See? The electric car is a failure… it’s dead on arrival.’ You might think that, but you’d be wrong. “We’re talking about a transformation here. “And transformation takes time.”
As evidence of the strength of his and GM’s convictions of a positive future for the electrified vehicle, Reuss highlighted tripling of annual sales in 2012 over 2011 for the Chevy Volt, and that the new Cadillac ELR, an extended-range EV, represents a combination of recognizable luxury and GM’s “commitment to electric vehicles.”
“People will instantly recognize it as a Cadillac by its distinctive, signature look and true-to-concept exterior design,” said Reuss.
The GM executive’s commentary effectively says that he, and the company, expects that not only will technology need to continue to advance, but also a paradigm shift is yet to happen in consumers’ minds.
“It takes a long time to change an industry, to change habits, and to change a way of life. I believe, and we at GM believe that the public will accept and embrace electric vehicles; some people already have. And the rest of them will come around when technology advances electric vehicles to the point where they offer comparable performance at comparable prices,” Reuss said.
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