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GM president: Electric cars won’t go mainstream until we fix these problems

buildings-1851246_1920Question: What kind of car do you have? Would you like to buy an electric car?

The automotive industry is hurtling toward a future that will change transportation the same way electricity changed how we light the world. Electric and self-driving vehicles will alter the automotive landscape forever — it’s only a question of how soon.

Like any revolution, this one will be created by market demand.

Beyond the environmental benefit, electric vehicle owners enjoy the performance, quiet operation, robust acceleration, style and interior space. And EV owners like not having to buy gasoline. We believe the majority of these customers will stay loyal to electric cars.

But what about non-EV owners? Will they want to buy electric? About 25 years ago, when we first considered getting into the electric vehicle business with a small car that had about 70 miles of range, the answer was no. But today, the results are far more encouraging.

We recently held consumer clinics in Los Angeles and Chicago and presented people with six SUV choices: three gasoline and three electric. When we asked for their first choice to purchase, 40% of the Chicago respondents chose an electric SUV, and 45% in LA did the same.

This is despite a several thousand-dollar premium on the price of the electric models (but also before crucial government tax credits that we believe will continue to drive people toward electric vehicles and help fuel market demand).

They had concerns, to be sure. Most people said they want vehicles that can match gasoline-powered vehicles in range, ease of ownership and cost. The sooner we can break down these three critical barriers, the sooner electric cars will become mainstream.

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