GM planning car to rival Tesla's Model S

General Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson speaks with the media before addressing the 2012 GM annual meeting of stockholders at GM headquarters on June 12, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. 

Automaker General Motors announced that it is joining its competitors in the pursuit of an all-electric car with long-range and a low price. GM’s goal is to develop a car that can travel 200 miles on a single charge, priced around $30,000. If GM can pull that off its electric vehicle would cost less than half the price of Tesla’s Model S, the only electric car on the market with a range of 200 miles.

GM doesn’t just want to sell an affordable long range electric vehicle. It wants that vehicle to run on in-house technology.  

“It’s much like developing your own gasoline engine,” says Edmunds senior auto analyst Michelle Krebs. “That is the heart and soul of the vehicle and they believe that it’s important that it be their own.”

Unlike Toyota which owns an stock in Tesla and uses Tesla’s technology in its RAV-4, GM and its competitors are in a race to develop a breakthrough technology that delivers affordable long rage electrics.

“Nobody has really been able to claim that -- put their stake in the ground yet,” says David Sullivan with Auto Pacific.

GM Global Development VP Doug Parks did not give a timeline on when consumers could expect a long range vehicle. The company does offer the Chevy Volt priced at $35,000 but with a range of 38 miles it relies on a gasoline generator to go further. 

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.
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I was expecting something like an electric Corvette. But Akerson said they would probably go with a Cadillac, which has some logic to it.

If GM comes out with a car for $30,000 that has a 200 mile range, I will be first in line to buy one and I'll encourage all of my friends and family to do so also

The Union of Concerned Scientist did a Well-to-Wheel Analysis about electric vehicles and emission. The CO2 savings depends on how the electricity is generated. I live in Michigan which is a high CO2 emitting state because of its dependence on coal. About 17% of people in the US also live in high emitting states. The report estimates driving a leaf in Michigan would be like driving a car that gets 30 – 35 MPG. An assumption in the report is a leaf will get about 3 miles to the kWh. However, after 5 months of driving I’m getting about 6 mile per kwh. So the CO2 may be about at same as a car getting 50 MPG. About 1/2 of people live in low emitting state, i.e. about 1/3 CO2 per kWh as in Michigan so for most people the benefits are much greater.

Additionally, I just got my DTE electric bill for August 3 through September 4. The cost of charging my Leaf was $16.82. In August I drove 720 mile. So my cost is about $16.68 / 720 miles or $0.023/ mile and no maintenance charges, i.e. oil changes.

The Subaru outback I was driving before the leaf got about 24 mile / gal. I estimate gas at about $3.70 /gal so the cost per mile is $3.70/24 miles or $0.154/mile. Also in these 5 months I would have gotten on oil change but that cost is not included but will underestimate the cost of driving the Subaru.

So the difference between driving a Leaf and a Subaru outback is 0.023/0.154 or about 1/7 the cost of driving the Leaf verses the Subaru.

I'm always fascinated by the fact that people percieve plug-in electric vehicles to have a smaller Carbon footprint than hybrids. When you plug into a charging station, or any source of power other than a solar or wind farm, the electricity comes from the grid. That means that the true carbon footprintof the electric vehicle should include a percentage of the generation and transmission losses of commercial power generation. Including that consideration, pure electric is probably better than the traditional combustion engine, but will come up much closer to hybrids. Once you get to a hybrid, the range issue goes away.

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