stock jumped Tuesday, after CEO Mary Barra and other company executives presented at the all-digital 2021 Consumer Electronics Show. Barra laid out some major goals related to electric vehicles—and General Motors (ticker: GM) raised the possibility of flying cars.
That’s right, flying cars.
The auto maker’s virtual CES booth is titled “Exhibit Zero,” reflecting GM’s goals for there to be zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion. “The key to [this vision] is electrification,” Barra said.
It’s easy to understand the link between EVs and zero emissions: no carbon dioxide—the greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming—is emitted when EVs are charged with renewably-generated electricity. Tying EVs to GM’s other two goals is less obvious: Zero accidents and zero congestion appear to be more about the company’s focus on autonomous driving technology.
EVs, however, go hand-in-hand with the concept. Elon Musk, the CEO of EV maker
(TSLA), is a vocal proponent of self-driving technology and its potential to create new opportunities for the car business, such as self-driving taxis.
“EV platforms are measured against Tesla,” Glen De Vos, chief technology officer for
(APTV), an auto supplier that integrates autonomous driving sensor data, tells Barron’s. “You launch an EV today and don’t have all that [self-driving tech], you get killed.”
But De Vos notes that EVs tend to have higher levels of software control and computing power—both of which are needed for autonomous driving to work.
GM also offered an update on its advanced driver assistance system, dubbed Super Cruise: Executives said that more than 20 GM vehicles will feature the program by 2023. GM can update Super Cruise with over-the-air software updates, just like Tesla’s autopilot mode.
The presentation included two other big announcements—including that Cadillac vehicles will soon feature “suspended particle device smart glass,” allowing occupants to set the level of transparency. The auto giant also said it is planning electric, autonomous vans for taxi and commercial applications.
Then there are the flying cars: GM presented a digital version of a personal aircraft flying through a city.
“Advances in electric and autonomous make personal air travel possible,” said Michael Simcoe, GM vice president of design. While flying cars may help alleviate road congestion, executives didn’t give a time frame for making them a reality.
On the whole, investors appear impressed: GM stock closed up 6.2% at $47.82 on Tuesday, and has gained another 3.4% in premarket trading Wednesday. The
closed Tuesday up .04%, while the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
Some on Wall Street were impressed, too. “We give GM credit for showing how, in a more electrified world, they can increase their [total addressable market] moving into new areas,” RBC analyst Joseph Spak wrote in a Tuesday research note. He rates GM shares the equivalent of Buy, with a $52 price target.
Write to Al Root at firstname.lastname@example.org