General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra told investors on Wednesday that the automaker plans to double revenue by 2030, expanding profits from combustion vehicles even as it rolls out new electric vehicles and new digitally powered services to catch up with Tesla Inc.
GM said if it succeeds, annual revenue by 2030 would be about US$280-billion, and the automaker would be the leader in U.S. electric vehicle sales. Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson said GM expects pre-tax profit margins of 12 to 14 per cent, which could beat current levels. That would imply annual pre-tax profits of as much as $39-billion.
Jacobson said GM can fund US$9-billion to US$10-billion in annual capital spending for electric vehicles and other initiatives while returning money to shareholders.
“This won’t all happen at once,” Jacobson said.
GM projects its combustion vehicle business can grow even as annual electric vehicle revenues rise to US$90-billion by 2030 from US$10 billion projected in 2023, Jacobson told investors after markets closed. The company also plans to add US$80-billion from new businesses such as the Cruise autonomous vehicle ride service by 2030.
Barra has been campaigning to convince investors that General Motors can top Tesla in technology development and profitability as the auto industry navigates the most profound technology revolution since the mass-produced Ford Model T. She and other GM executives began a two-day series of presentations to investors at the automaker’s Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.
They said GM can transform itself “from automaker to platform innovator” – a reference to Silicon Valley digital platform companies such as Apple Inc that have far higher stock valuations than GM and other incumbent auto manufacturers.
Barra took the helm at GM in 2014 and at one point almost doubled the share price from a narrow band around its 2010 initial public offering price of $33. The shares rose after hours on Wednesday after closing at $53.93.
Still, GM’s market capitalization of about US$78-billion remains far behind Tesla’s US$773-billion market cap, reflecting investor skepticism that GM can match Tesla’s battery and software prowess.
Barra and GM President Mark Reuss outlined a plan for a transition to an all-electric fleet by 2035 that starts gradually, then accelerates after 2030, by which time more than half of GM’s factories in China and North America will be “capable of EV production.”
GM has said it aspires to produce nothing but electric vehicles by 2035. Reuss said that will depend on the “agility” of GM’s factories, which will build both combustion and electric vehicles.
“We want to take the entire workforce along with us,” Barra said. She and Reuss insisted that GM’s current workforce and factories are assets, not liabilities. Electric vehicle startups are building new factories at great expense, she noted, while GM already has plants and people it can repurpose.
In 2022, GM plans to launch an electric version of its best-selling North American model, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. Barra will unveil it at the CES technology show on Jan. 5, GM said. Suppliers have said that vehicle will be launched in late 2022.
“No one will be able to touch us in the electric truck space,” Reuss said.
Ford Motor Co, which is on track to beat GM to market with the battery-electric Ford F-150 Lightning early next year, recently said it will double capacity for the Lightning at its Dearborn, Michigan, factory. Ford plans even more electric F-150 production at a complex planned for Tennessee. Startup Rivian began production of its electric pickup last month.
Tesla has delayed the launch of its futuristic Cybertruck.
GM executives have been careful not to make a hard commitment to abandon internal combustion vehicles by 2035, saying that will depend on market demand and government policy.
Still, GM’s embrace of electrification has won over investors increasingly concerned about climate change. On Monday, hedge fund Engine No. 1 said GM had carved a leadership position on battery technology and had a lot of growth ahead.
GM also aims to expand profits from internal combustion vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Silverado large SUVs such as the Cadillac Escalade.
Barra has expressed confidence GM can build profitable, higher-margin software-driven services and capture new customers with electric vehicles, such as a $30,000 electric Chevrolet crossover wagon.
GM is majority owner of autonomous vehicle services company Cruise, and projects that company should deliver $50-billion in annual revenues by 2030. Last week, Cruise received licenses in California to begin accepting passengers, though it cannot yet charge for rides.
GM is also investing in the BrightDrop e-commerce delivery unit and insurance offered through its Onstar telematics brand. In all, GM said it is managing 20 startups to develop new lines of business.
Tesla’s impact was evident. GM said that by 2023 it will offer a new version of its Ultra Cruise hands-free driving system using sensors to enable hands-free driving in “95 per cent of all driving scenarios.”
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has made similar claims for future versions of the electric automaker’s Autopilot technology.
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