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GM’s vision ‘is to have everybody in an EV,’ VP says

General Motors Vice President of EV Ecosystem Hoss Hassani joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the outlook for EV adoption and building out a charging network.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, let's now turn to the race for EV adoption. A lack of charging infrastructure has been one of the main obstacles. This according to a study from San Jose University-- San Jose State University. General Motors hoping to boost charger availability by leveraging its dealer network to choose charging locations in their communities and subsidizing the deployment cost.

Joining us to explain is Hoss Hassani, General Motors vice president, EV Ecosystem. Good to have you on today. I'm going to start with a stat I know GM always likes to mention, which is that 90% of Americans are within 10 miles of a GM dealership. So you've got that in place. Now you're allowing or actually offering up these charging stations to dealers to deploy. To what extent is that likely to accelerate EV adoption?

HOSS HASSANI: Well, Akiko, great to be with you. And one of GM's visions, ambitions is to have everybody in an EV, not just to see EV in the markets where we're currently seeing a lot of adoption. And that means in the heartland of the country, in the middle of the country, in exurban and rural communities, as well as communities that are currently underserved by EV infrastructure.

So for us, getting 40,000 chargers deployed across the US and Canada in those communities, those thousands of communities that don't have a single charger there today, is hugely consequential, in our view, for accelerating EV adoption.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: So, Hoss, talk about the decision to have them deployed in the community versus the actual GM dealers themselves.

HOSS HASSANI: Yeah, I mean, listen, it's obvious and predictable that we would deploy them at dealerships. And in fact, our dealerships are installing EV infrastructure on their properties as a condition of selling and servicing our EVs. But we thought the opportunity was to go farther than that, and not just to get charging more accessible, but also to start supporting local businesses, small businesses, communities, popular community destinations, and so forth.

Since we announced the program last year, we had a number of businesses reach out to us and say, hey, I want to be a host for one of these locations. And we think bringing everybody in, which is not just the driver of the vehicle, but letting the communities participate, that is something that's very core to General Motors' identity and fabric in this community in this economy. And we just think it makes a lot of sense.

AKIKO FUJITA: Hoss, a majority of these being deployed are level two chargers. And while it's on the faster end, we're still talking about, what, roughly three hours to get to 80% charge. I mean, what do you think is the tipping point? For those who are kind of on the edge saying, well, should I get an EV or not, that's still a long time to charge up if you don't have a charging system at home.

HOSS HASSANI: For sure, and today, we are saying that 90%-- 80% to 90% of charging is happening at home and a little bit at the workplace. DC fast charging makes up about 15% to 20% of the infrastructure. That's where you see those really quick top-ups, half an hour to 80% and so forth.

But 80% of the charging infrastructure in the US and Canada today is that level two charging. And it serves a different use case. When you think about locations that people hang out at and spend a lot of time at, a couple hours at a library, at campus at school, and the employer and so forth, that's really where level two charging makes sense. It's more affordable to charge on level two charging.

And in fact, a lot of level two chargers across the continent are, in fact, free. And so we see level two charging really complementary to the investments that we're also making in DC fast charging as part of our $750 million commitment to expand EV infrastructure across North America.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And what sort of headwinds could you also be looking at as you try and expand this?

HOSS HASSANI: I really think the only headwinds are our own ambition, frankly. And what we're doing here, we just-- you know, the immediately preceding segment talking about continued challenges with the supply chain and so forth, we've, of course, partnered with companies. And we've got a good view here that those 40,000 charges that we're looking to deploy, we will deploy in the time frame that we're looking to do it.

One of the other advantages of level two charging infrastructure versus DC fast charging, you require less upgrades and utilities and so forth. It's much quicker to install. And in fact, we've had our first installations through this program in Wisconsin and in Michigan and are looking to build on that with hundreds and thousands more installations in the months ahead.

AKIKO FUJITA: Hoss, how much of this is about trying to get drivers to warm up to the GM EV brand? I mean, we heard from your president, Mark Reuss several weeks ago, saying that GM's actually serviced about 11,000 Teslas. And while you've been open to that, there's got to be a bit of a wooing game that's happening, right?

HOSS HASSANI: Well, without a doubt, listen, I mean, up until now, with gasoline powered vehicles, it's always been about brand reputation. And the product itself that is made really inform people's decisions, which vehicle they were going to purchase. When you get into electric vehicles that is, of course, there, having stellar product with excellent range reliability and features and amenities, and the brand's reputation really matters.

But one thing that is fundamentally different about an EV is the fact that charging is, in most cases, a daily ritual for folks-- at home, whether they're plugging it in overnight, like they do their phone, whether they're going on a road trip. That is an experience that they're going to be having much more frequently than a gas fill-up in a very good way.

And for us, we know that General Motors is absolutely going to lead in that charging experience that people are going to have every single day. And that's going to be hugely consequential to the decision of which EV people want to choose. And so combine that with the exceptional vehicles that we're going to have, electric vehicles in every category from Equinox up to Celestiq, and that world class charging experience, powered by the app, powered by the in-vehicle experience, we know that that is going to catapult General Motors to the leadership category in EVs.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: We know more charging stations certainly sweetens the deal for people on the fence thinking about EVs. Hoss Hassani, General Motors vice president, EV Ecosystem, thank you so much for joining us this morning.