GM is going to rely on hybrids to meet emissions regulations.
This could be the first domino to fall in a big year for hybrids.
A new crop of electric car shoppers is showing interest for plug-in hybrids.
GM will sell hybrids in North America after all, CEO Mary Barra said Tuesday.
On the company's fourth-quarter earnings call, Barra reversed course from GM's "all-in" electric vehicle strategy, saying that plug-in hybrids will play a role in helping the company meet more stringent tailpipe emission regulations in the coming years.
"GM remains committed to eliminating tailpipe emissions from our light-duty vehicles by 2035," Barra said. "But in the interim, deploying plug-in technology in strategic segments will deliver some of the environmental benefits of EVs as the nation continues to build its charging infrastructure."
This about-face for GM, which has loudly touted its commitment to an all-electric future, is a good sign for dealers and shoppers heading into this year. Dealers have reportedly pressured GM to provide more hybrid options as EV shopping habits change.
It may also be the first domino to fall as demand for hybrid vehicles reaches new highs. A new wave of electric car shoppers are more willing to consider hybrids as an option and might even pay a premium for that technology over a gas-powered car.
Pure EVs, on the other hand, are suffering from a softness in demand as more practical shoppers are less willing to change their lifestyle to conform to a fully electric car. High price points aren't helping things either.
While companies like GM and rival Ford pull back on their EV expectations, hybrids can serve as a good bridge technology for shoppers who still want a more environmentally friendly vehicle. And it appears that companies with more hybrid focus are catching the attention of consumers.
A recent study from GBK Collective, a consulting firm, found that Toyota – which has heavily prioritized hybrids over electric cars – was the most frequently considered brand among shoppers interested in buying an EV or hybrid, reflecting a turn away from EV giant Tesla.
More hybrids on dealer lots are a good thing for shoppers, as the lack of supply has put a price premium on the few models in the market. More options are likely to ease some of this pricing pressure and open up the hybrid market to more shoppers.
"We believe that the market is ripe for much greater adoption for battery-powered vehicles should the industry do the work to listen to consumers and better understand the market," GBK President Jeremy Korst previously told Business Insider.
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