Two months after thousands of US auto dealers warned President Biden to reconsider the pace of electric vehicle mandates, citing waning demand for those vehicles, a new report from The Wall Street Journal reveals dealers are pressing one major automaker to include a broader range of hybrid models, over fears of losing customers.
General Motors' top auto dealers have voiced concern about the automaker's aggressive push into the EV space while mostly bypassing hybrids, according to people familiar with the matter. They said customers are hesitant to buy EVs and search for a "middle ground between conventional gas-engine cars and EVs."
The people said that GM executives have acknowledged dealers' pleas but have yet to decide on adding future hybrid lineups. This could complicate Chief Executive Mary Barra's foray into the EV space.
Unlike its competitors, GM went all-in on EVs and skipped the hybrid market.
Last month, Barra told reporters at an event in Detroit:
"I still believe in the endgame that you want to move to EVs as quickly as you can."
With the EV market slowing, Toyota's chairman and former CEO, Akio Toyoda, recently offered a dose of reality that EVs aren't the future but instead hybrid vehicles.
Toyoda has noted time after time that EVs aren't the silver bullet against the supposed ills of carbon emissions they're often made out to be.
Toyota has a history of being at the forefront of adopting new technologies. However, its slow EV adoption is because it mistrusts lithium-ion batteries and has positioned itself as a leader in hybrid vehicles.
Earlier this month, Ford Motor announced plans to slash production of its all-electric F-150 Lightning in April "to achieve the optimal balance of production, sales growth, and profitability." This is yet more evidence that EV demand is going the wrong way.
"With EV adoption slower, hybrids are going to be a bigger part" of the business, Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler admitted at a Barclays investor conference in November.
And in late November, 3,900 auto dealers penned a letter to Biden, telling the president to "tap the brakes on the unrealistic government electric vehicle mandate."
"Hybrids are what's hot right now," said Chris Hemmersmeier, a Salt Lake City-area car dealer with GM stores.
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