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GM Expects Promising Future for Electric Cars in Middle East | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Journalists look over the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV after it is
unveiled during a General Motors keynote address at the 2016 CES trade
show in Las Vegas. Photo: Reuters

London- Anthony Riemann, director of Corporate Strategy & Planning in General Motors Group, expected the car industry to see drastic changes within the coming decade.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Riemann said electric cars will soon hit the region. He stated that General Motors is ready to cooperate with the local authorities in equipping the services’ networks needed for the future electric cars.

Riemann considered that the “Bolt”, the newest electric car from General Motors, has changed the rules of the game in the automotive industry, after it crossed a distance of 380 km before needing a battery recharge.

On the other hand, Riemann said the future will be totally different from what we see on the roads today. In the future cities, the user will prefer to share the car and not to own it. The company made its efforts in this project.

Here is the text of the interview:

*How do you see the future of electric cars in the region?

– We see a promising future for electric cars in the Middle East. We will be delighted to cooperate with the concerned authorities to make sure that the needed restrictions and infrastructure are available to operate an electric car and support the consumer.

* How do you see the GCC cities’ transportation in the future?

– In some of the GCC areas, we see some urban citizens who really care about modern technologies. Those people are considered the core of the future transportation means.

* What are the trends adopted by General Motors in choosing the future engines among electric, hybrid, or fuel?

– We have an inclusive program that covers different types of alternative engines like the hybrid and electric systems. We had unveiled a trial car that works with hydrogen; we are actually selling hybrid cars, and we recently unveiled the “Bolt Chevrolet”, an electric car that received many awards due to the long service it provides before it needs a battery recharge. In the past six years, we invested over two billion dollars on research of electric engines.

* What are GM’s innovations in the field of future cars?

– Over a decade, the concept of car ownership didn’t change, but communities changed and people now make an integral part of the economy. General Motors looks at the future of transportation and admits the need for a change so it can be part of this development.

People do not care about possessing a car. Rather, they need the car to respond to their needs even for a short term. Therefore, we have adopted many techniques to launch the concept of “car-sharing” known as “Maven” in the United States. According to this concept, the user can book a car and pay for his booking through a smartphone app, drive the vehicle for the time he needs, and then return it. This concept responds to the needs of different categories and provides cars from all types and sizes. “Maven” achieved a great success in US cities, and GM has participated in it with 37 million hours of use till date. The company seeks to expand this concept in more areas and with different techniques.

* Do you think that driverless cars are a good idea for the near future, despite some incidents, including the last fatal accident in Florida?

– There are many levels of autonomous driving. A 100 percent driverless car is still far reach. However, driverless cars will hit the markets before the time we set. Currently, the company is testing a fleet of the “Chevrolet Bolt” driverless electric car in the United States. Our top priority is safety, therefore, we are studying all the aspects of this trial before promoting this car in the market. At the same time, we will continue in developing the driver-support techniques we apply in many of our cars and their communication techniques till we reach the final phase of autonomous driving.

* The unification of standards concerning charging, systems of autonomous driving, and communication among cars are aspects that need agreement among different companies. Does General Motors make any effort to support such cooperation with other companies?

– The industry is currently witnessing a drastic change. We have agreed with other companies on the joint goals concerning the techniques that suit the region. We are proud to cooperate with the local authorities on the future of transportation, and we are fully ready to use the knowledge we acquired over the years to help in setting a regulative frame that suits consumer interests.