It’s intoxicating time to be a car executive. Lawmakers around the world are pushing the auto industry to electrify, and fast. American companies are under pressure to do so without giving a boost to rival nations, mainly China. Re-engineering decades of internal combustion-focused technology, business models and supply chains should be easy, right?
Meanwhile, another revolutionary technology is also on the way: autonomous vehicles. Automakers and tech companies have invested hundreds of billions in research into robot cars. That spending has yet to bear commercial fruit, but is expected to reshape everything from the car business to city streets and the job market.
Mark Reuss, the president of General Motors, has worked at the Detroit automaker for decades and feels the ground shifting beneath his feet. The company is ramping up production of new electric models like the Cadillac Lyriq and Chevrolet Silverado EV, making its own battery packs in a joint venture with LG and trying to boost self-driving subsidiary Cruise, whose operations have interrupted in San Francisco. for a serious accident and incidents of frozen cars on the road. In an interview that has been edited for length and clarity, Reuss tells WIRED that he is optimistic about the reinvention of the automobile and the future of the automaker.
WIRED: I wanted to start off by asking you about the Inflation reduction lawwhich links the new tax credits for electric vehicles with tough requirements battery components in the USA. How has this changed your thinking about the supply chain?
Mark Reuss: This started, unfortunately, with the pandemic and looking at our semiconductor supply chains. The whole industry goes to Taiwan, or that part of the world, to get them. And that’s not healthy. We really went for electric vehicle supply lines so that we weren’t leveraging things around the world, but rather in our own country. It also led to many decisions about the vertical integration of our battery platforms and cell chemistry. That was really good. We’re using 70 percent less cobalt in the chemistries we’re launching with now, relative to the Chevrolet Bolt.
How bad is he chip shortage now? I’m listening to people who are driving around in their new electric vehicles for more than they paid because vehicles are scarce. When do you expect things to return to normal?
I don’t know exactly what the new normal will be. We are in very good shape until the end of the year. We had about 95,000 vehicles on the ground waiting for supply which we are now clearing. We are addressing pricing as best we can. I see it all on the internet too, you know, and it makes me sad.
If we look at the data from our dealer network and all our vehicles, we are slightly above our suggested retail price. Really good dealers don’t raise prices because it destroys their brand, it destroys our brand. We’re also rolling out something called our digital retail platform, where customers will be able to buy a vehicle any way they want, whether that’s online, at a dealership or through the manufacturing process.