Photos courtesy of GM
THE VEHICLES your vehicle, so you can let the utility have control. So OnStar can work with the utility as the conduit to the vehicle, and set the timing of when charging starts and stops, as well as providing data on how long it’s going to take for the vehicle to charge, and when the customer wanted that charge to be complete.” Smart Grade is in a chicken-and-egg situation at the moment. GM has been working with several utility companies, and there is “certainly” interest, but no programs have been activated yet. The system can be retrofitted to the Volt in the future, and will eventually be enabled in every plug-in model with OnStar. Considering the ELR’s place in the plug-in market, Gesse notes that each of the current vehicles targets a different electrified niche: GM’s sedan-looking hatchback Volt, Tesla’s fully electric midsize sedan, Ford’s compact monocab C-MAX, BMW’s i8 high-performance sport coupé. “None of us are competing directly head-on with each other. We’re all asking where this market is going.” GM is watching all of these market entries closely, and will keep a close eye on how customers respond.
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None of us are competing directly head-on with each other.
As the ELR joins the versatile Volt and the tiny Spark EV in GM’s plug-in lineup, the company certainly seems committed to electrification. “Knowing what we know from the EV1, we think this tech is here to stay, and we’re going to stand behind it,” says Gesse. “We’re going to learn from our competitors (or, call them partners). We’re all in the same boat, we all want to see the market expand, and see where the market can help push that tech further. We’re all doing our own individual plays, but all watching each other.” The gentlemen from GM declined to predict any precise production figures for the ELR, but they expect volume to be limited. “We’ll capitalize on success if it’s there, but for a luxury vehicle there is some aspect of exclusivity.”