GM announces goal of "all-electric future," but declines to set a date

2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric car
Promo image GM

Two new models next year. Eighteen by 2023. Oil majors may start worrying.

Nissan isn't the only automaker signaling a major shift to electric vehicles. As the Washington Post reports, GM is now signaling that the end of its cars running on gas or diesel is rapidly approaching.

While the announcement—made at GM’s technical campus in Michigan on Monday—declines to set a date for the transition, it's probably the clearest signal yet from General Motors that the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered. Specifically, the auto giant is planning two new fully electric models in the next two years, and an additional 18 by 2023.

As with Nissan's latest efforts, I'm sure there will be those who say this is too little, and too slow. Indeed, it's disappointing to hear a bold announcement of a laudable goal, and yet not have it accompanied by a timeframe for execution. But I'm a big believer in the power of momentum. As automakers from Volvo to Jaguar Land Rover announce significant commitments to electrification, it sends market signals to investors that tend to take on a life of their own.

The point at which oil companies' values plummet won't be when oil demand actually starts falling, but rather when the perception of future profitability is undermined. Talk of stranded assets and the carbon bubble have already permeated the mainstream of economic discourse. Announcements like these will only hasten the point at which they are acted upon.

Meanwhile, Cleantechnica reports that 51% of British motorists expect to be driving electric in the next five years. That should focus the mind of auto industry executives...

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