Dubai: General Motors is taking the high ground pushing its electric claims in the Gulf. If that means a slow and steady approach to gaining sales numbers, then so be it.
“We serve a vital role in educating the markets as to where the electrification process is going,” said John Roth, President and Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa markets. “You look at the overall government directions and all the talk about things like climate change — it’s clear what we need to do to participate in that dialogue.”
For now, that participation takes the form of the Bolt EV, the latest iteration of which caught a lot of attention at the Dubai International Motor Show. Currently, the all-electric model is available only in Dubai, and it’s a status GM wants to change at the earliest. Priced at Dh174,000, which includes a Type-2 charger, it means only the affluent, an ardent environmentalist, or a combination of the two would be convinced to pick up a Bolt.
GM is hoping there would be a few of those around as it makes the Bolt available in more Gulf cities. In Dubai, over the last two years, it has sold more than 100 units, including six vehicles on a ride-sharing basis at the Dubai Sustainable City development.
“As recently as 30 days ago, we’ve had conversations with authorities in Saudi Arabia to get the right approvals,” Roth said. “We are showing the merchandise in other Gulf markets. As for us, down the road, we are fully committed to a fully electric future.”
More to come?
What GM could do with for now is an addition model or two, preferably one attached to its Cadillac marque. The medium-term target is for 20 new EVs by 2023. (Currently, it is putting the pieces together for a battery electric vehicle architecture, and it will be Cadillac that will be the first to deploy it.) But until such time those models get off the design boards and into showrooms, it does leave the field open for Tesla. Recent months have seen more vehicles on UAE roads, easily picking up the first converts from fuel to electric.
Roth insists he will not get into crystal ball gazing as to which models GM will launch next in these markets. “I’m not here today to make additional product announcements,” he added. “We will not rule out anything with what we can do further with Bolt or any other model. In these last two years, we have made significant investments to increase the range of Bolt EV — the 2020 version does 565 kilometres of range and that’s 45 kilometres higher than the prior one.
“In other words, a Bolt owner can use it for seven days at a stretch without actually having to plug in. It’s value proposition is no different from filling petrol in a fuel car once a week.
“And it’s proof-positive that we are committed to the idea of zero crashes, zero congestions and zero emissions. A vehicle like Bolt EV is a great opportunity to educate first responders.”