Barra said GM aims to be selling 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2026, many of them in China, which has set strict production quotas on such vehicles. On Monday, GM's China chief said the automaker and its joint-venture partners will be able to meet the country's 2019 electric vehicle requirements without purchasing credits from other companies.
GM's cost reduction efforts on electric vehicles centre on a new battery system that will be more than 30 percent cheaper than the one that powers the Chevrolet Bolt.
The company aims to cut the cost of its lithium-ion batteries to less than $100 per kilowatt-hour from $145 per kilowatt-hour by 2021, which would bring the overall cost of electric vehicles much closer to comparable gasoline-engine models.
GM said the new batteries would hold more energy and charge quicker. The company is aiming to boost electric vehicle range to more than 300 miles (483 km) with the new batteries. The current Bolt is rated at 238 miles between charges.
Barra said GM will have the ability to manufacture high volumes of the new batteries at plants in the United States and China. She said GM projects sales of 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2026. So far, the company has sold about 17,000 Bolts.
GM's new electric vehicle platform in 2021 will serve as a base for at least nine derivatives, ranging from a compact crossover to a large seven-passenger luxury sports utility vehicle and a large commercial van. It will also provide the underpinning for a shared autonomous vehicle (AV) that GM plans to put into commercial service.
Before the new platform arrives, GM plans to introduce three new electric vehicles by 2020, including two crossovers, that will share basic components with the Bolt, Barra said. She described GM as "the only fully integrated developer of AVs with true scale capability."
"We are not capital constrained in our EV or AV development," she added.
GM is generating strong profit from selling trucks and sport utility vehicles in the United States, and Barra reaffirmed a promise to investors that GM's core North American vehicle business should achieve 10 percent pre-tax profit margins.