General Motors emphasizing faster electric vehicle launches after positive 2021 earnings

General Motors (NYSE: GM) is gearing up for a major shift in 2022 thanks to its evolving electric vehicle program, planning for record profit levels that could surge the company into a more well-rounded placement in an increasingly competitive sector. The automaker is preparing for faster vehicle launches, according to CEO Mary Barra, who said more models would come to the market at a quicker pace. GM reported its Earnings for Q4 and its guidance for 2022 last night, sharing expansive details for the coming years, including new models, production plans and start dates, and more information regarding GM’s Cruise investment.

In general terms, General Motors reported a strong Q4 and Full Year 2021 in terms of financials. GM’s 2021 full-year earnings included a net income of $10.019 billion, a net income margin of 7.9 percent, and revenue of over $127 billion, a $4.5 billion increase from 2020. For Q4, GM had a weaker quarter than it did in the same period in 2020. The company reported $33.584 billion in revenue for Q4 ’21, which is nearly $4 billion less than Q4 ’20. Net income also decreased, but the full-year figures and profits undoubtedly outshine the losses for the quarter.

“For the full year, we generated $127 billion in revenue, $14.3 billion in EBIT-adjusted, 11.3% EBIT-adjusted margin, $7.07 in EPS diluted adjusted, and $2.6 billion in adjusted automotive free cash flow,” GM CFO Paul Jacobson said. “In the fourth quarter, we generated $34 billion in revenue, $2.8 billion in EBIT-adjusted, 8.5% EBIT-adjusted margin, $1.35 in EPS diluted adjusted, and $6.4 billion in adjusted automotive free cash flow. Free cash flow in the quarter was largely driven by working capital rewind as we were able to complete and wholesale over 80,000 vehicles that had previously been built without certain components, as well as dividends from GM Financial.”

GM’s Earnings Call was the highlight of the evening as it shed new light on the automaker’s planned expansion of its electric vehicle lineup. “We also recognize that we need to launch more EVs faster,” CEO Mary Barra said during the call. GM plans to launch deliveries of the Cadillac LYRIQ in “less than 60 days.” The LYRIQ will join the GMC Hummer EV, which recently started deliveries, as GM’s two newest electric vehicles for consumer use. In the commercial sector, GM said that production of the BrightDrop EV600 will begin late this year at the company’s CAMI Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada. The automaker said that the site currently has a production capacity of 30,000 vehicles and should be doubled by mid-decade.

GMC Hummer EV sports its massive size alongside full-size SUV

GM said that the Silverado, Equinox, and Blazer EVs will all begin deliveries in 2023. The three vehicles will contribute to GM’s plan to deliver 400,000 EVs in North America in 2022 and 2023. These plans are supplemented by battery cell and assembly capacity investments in Michigan, which were recently announced. These new facilities “will give [GM] more than 1 million units of EV capacity in North America by the end of 2025, and this includes 600,000 full-size trucks,” Barra added.

Interestingly, Barra held high regard for Cruise, a fully-autonomous ride-sharing company with investors such as GM, Honda, Softbank, Microsoft, and Walmart. Barra said that riding in a Cruise vehicle a couple of weeks ago was “the highlight of my career as an engineer and as the leader of General Motors.”

“It’s like having an experienced and attentive driver behind the wheel,” Barra said. “Now, as Cruise announced this morning, it is inviting members of the public to sign up for their own driverless rides through a waitlist on the Cruise website. This is the first truly driverless ride-hail service offered to members of the public in a dense urban environment. To maximize its learnings, Cruise will prioritize use cases that are a natural fit for autonomous ride-sharing.”

Barra believes that the first paid rides for Cruise could generate $50 billion by the end of the 2020s.

Semiconductor Forecast

“We saw improved semiconductor availability in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, which enabled us to increase our wholesale sequentially while substantially reducing our inventory of vehicles built without certain components,” Jacobson added. GM expects semiconductor availability to improve throughout 2022, reporting that the company has seen stabilization in the semiconductor environment. This leads GM to believe that it can reach a “normalized run rate toward the beginning of the third quarter [2022] with a target of around 800,000 units in North America on a quarterly basis.” This figure includes GM’s combustion engine vehicles.

Questions from Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner prompted Barra and other GM executives to give more information regarding their opinions of the semiconductor shortage and when it could begin to subside. Barra believes that, by the time Q3 and Q4 2022 roll around, “we’re going to be really starting to see the semiconductor constraints diminish.”

Analyst synopsis

GM’s Earnings Call was strong, giving investors more to be excited about in the way of its EV project and ability to avoid semiconductor issues. “We are big believers in the GM EV strategy as it’s all about converting 10%-15% of its customers to EVs by 2025 with 30 new EV models,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told us. “There are clear challenges, however, with massive resources dedicated towards EVs, we view this as the right move at the right time for Barra & Co.” In terms of keeping up with competitors, namely industry leader Tesla, Ives believes battery tech and GM’s exclusive Ultium platform is the roadmap to success for the Detroit company. “Ultium is the foundational piece of GM’s battery strategy and key to keep up in this EV arms race with Tesla leading the charge,” Ives added.

Ives has a “Buy” rating on GM stock with an $85 price target. Ives is ranked 59 out of 7,776 analysts on TipRanks.

GM shares were down 3.43 percent at the time of writing, trading at $52.22 per share.

Disclosure: Joey Klender is not a GM Shareholder.

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Quotes provided by the Motley Fool.

General Motors emphasizing faster electric vehicle launches after positive 2021 earnings

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