The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed H.R. 547, which would force automakers to build an affordable, fuel-efficient electric car.
General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra said investors will support the company’s long-term electric-vehicle (EV) investment plan because there’s a “strong demand” for them.
Barra told investors in an earnings call Tuesday that production of the plug-in Chevrolet Bolt EV is on track to increase to more than 200,000 units by the end of this year and that the automaker will deliver to customers at least 90,000 examples of the EV by the end of this year.
“We’re confident that our all-electric plans will benefit from a strong demand,” she said.
Barra declined to say whether GM plans to produce an affordable EV in the future. She added that the company is constantly re-evaluating its products to find the best fit.
GM’s EV plans come at a crucial time for the company. The company, along with Ford Motor (F) and Toyota Motor (TM) , is slated to unveil all-electric vehicles in the coming years that will compete against Tesla (TSLA) and its Model 3 sedan.
Investors were buoyed by the auto chief’s remarks, sending shares up 1.6% to $33.14 in premarket trading.
Automakers are increasingly interested in producing more affordable EVs, despite the financial challenges that come with low gas prices.
GM said last year that its $6.5 billion EV investment would cut internal costs by $300 million a year and would create 11,000 jobs by 2023.
The Bolt debuted in 2016, when the federal government mandated that automakers produce a minimum of half a million electric cars a year by 2025. The Trump administration partially lifted the mandate last month.
GM is also targeting autonomous cars for the future. It recently bought Cruise Automation, a California-based startup that makes technology to enable self-driving vehicles.
Many analysts have said the market for self-driving cars will be massive. But GM warned in October that it would hurt its profits by investing in them too aggressively.
Barra said GM is “committed to developing and deploying technology to enable autonomous vehicle capabilities.” But she stressed that the company’s self-driving vehicles have to meet “safety expectations and regulatory criteria” before getting the green light.
GM expects to roll out autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EVs in 2021 and said the cars would be tested in highway driving conditions.
Barra also said GM’s self-driving vehicle program won’t violate President Donald Trump’s ban on public testing on public roads. Trump’s order was issued last month.
H.R. 547, which has 218 co-sponsors, has yet to pass through the Senate.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.