General Motors Co. has set a goal that by 2017, it will have the annual capacity to produce as many as 500,000 units, which include some type of electric power in the engine like the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, according to global product development chief Mary Barra. She told reporters that GM has a central part of its global strategy is being able to build cars with electrical technology such as its eAssist system that raises fuel efficiency in gasoline-powered cars.
She added that this target is slightly higher than 5% of GM's worldwide sales in 2011 of around 9 million. This estimate includes plug-in hybrids; pure electric vehicles such as the Chevy Spark EV that will start selling next summer; and eAssist system, which is offered in several GM models.
The Volt was presented by GM in the fall of 2010. So far in 2012, GM has reported U.S. sales of over 50,000 units for models that use electrification technologies. The eAssist technology was seen in slightly higher than half of this figure. Barra didn’t indicate what percentage of the target would be cars that don’t have a gasoline engine. However, she said that plug-in technology will stay at the center of GM's strategy.
She added that the plug-in is the “major focus” for GM's electrification strategy. She emphasized that GM fully intends to keep its dominance in plug-in vehicles. But then, this doesn’t mean that GM has forgotten about the traditional hybrid or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. She said that under GM’s plans, its eAssist system, which improves fuel efficiency by up to 25% in some gasoline-powered vehicles, will be used by "hundreds of thousands" of vehicles each year by 2017.