First of 20 new GM electric cars by 2023 due within next 18 months

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Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car with future GM electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, Oct 2017

Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car with future GM electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, Oct 2017

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While Europe’s major automakers have been quick to jump on the electric car bandwagon, automakers in other regions have so far been more reserved.

The tide is slowly changing, though, as evidenced by General Motors’ announcement on Monday it will launch 20 electric cars by 2023.

And the good news is we won’t have to wait years to see the first examples as GM said two of its new electric cars will be launched within the next 18 months. They are being developed using lessons learned from the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt EV.

The 20-strong fleet will include both battery- and hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars, GM said. Recall, fuel cell cars are essentially electric cars that draw their electrical energy from a fuel cell instead of a battery.

Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle

Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle

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GM sees fuel cells being more suited to commercial applications where long ranges and quick refueling times are a must. That’s why the automaker is developing a modular fuel cell platform for heavy-duty trucks with 4-wheel drive, a taste of which we got in the form of the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Concept developed for the U.S. Army.

Dubbed the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure, or SURUS for short, the modular platform could be used for existing heavy-duty truck applications such as delivery or construction vehicles or even fire and ambulance vehicles. More details on the platform will be announced later this year.

Automakers have little choice on whether to electrify their lineups due to government mandates in major markets calling for the reduction and eventual elimination of emissions from cars. The list includes China, France, India and the United Kingdom. Even California is looking to introduce its own ban on cars powered by internal combustion engines.

But for GM the plans are also part of an overarching strategy to eliminate not only emissions but also congestion and crashes. For dealing with the other matters, GM is developing new mobility services, self-driving cars, and cars that communicate with each other and surrounding infrastructure.

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