GM Dealers Want Hybrids For Customers Who Aren’t Ready For EVs

GM Dealers Want Hybrids For Customers Who Aren’t Ready For EVs

GM is all in on electric vehicles. Through 2025, the company plans to spend some $35 billion on bringing more EVs to market. While that plan has had a bit of a rough start, GM’s dealers are thinking about a segment GM has essentially abandoned: hybrids.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that dealer advisory committees are trying to convince GM executives that the company needs to offer hybrid models. GM has had a touch-and-go relationship with hybrids. Aside from the plug-in hybrid Volt (which owners loved) and some mild hybrid models, the automaker has largely left hybrid tech alone.

Dealers now think the automaker needs hybrid vehicles for customers as the company’s EV push isn’t turning out as expected. They want something for customers who aren’t ready to make the full EV transition but don’t necessarily want a gas-powered vehicle either. But to get a company as large as The General is going to take some convincing, especially with GM CEO Mary Barra at the helm. She didn’t rule out hybrid models but still believes in the EV plan as The Journal pointed out.

Last month, Barra didn’t rule out the prospect of introducing hybrid models in the U.S. when asked about it during an event in Detroit, noting that GM sells them in China.

“I still believe in the endgame, that you want to move to EVs as quickly as you can,” she said. “But we have the technology, and we’ll continue to look at where the market is.”

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But historically, Barra hasn’t seemed to be interested in hybrids and is all in on EVs. The Journal points out that, at an investors conference in 2019, Barra made a blanketed statement about customers and hybrids. “Customers generally aren’t interested in hybrids, the value proposition there. We believe moving to electric vehicles as quickly as possible is the right thing to do.”

Dealers though are seeing a customer demand for hybrids in real time. One Salt Lake City dealer group owner who spoke with The Journal talked about how he’s seeing hybrid and PHEV models from his other brands sell fast, but is worried about the lack of offerings at his GM stores.

“Hybrids are what’s hot right now,” said Chris Hemmersmeier, a Salt Lake City-area car dealer who has GM stores as well as other brands, including Kia and Jeep.

He said hybrid models at those non-GM stores—including the Kia Sportage compact SUV and Stellantis’ Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee plug-in-hybrid SUVs, sold under the 4xe name—have been selling briskly, and he’s worried GM’s EV-heavy focus will cause his stores to lose customers. “I’d like to see GM prioritize hybrids,” said Hemmersmeier, who operates Chevrolet and Buick-GMC stores and hasn’t been involved in the dealer-committee meetings with company executives.

These dealers are perhaps taking a note from GM’s rival, Toyota. It’s well known that Toyota is in no rush to jump on the EV train and for good reason; Toyota sold over 657,000 hybrids in 2023, nearly 30 percent of its total sales. If GM sees those sales and doesn’t think that’s reason enough to get in on hybrids, maybe the company is just too proud to admit its EV plans aren’t working as hoped.

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