GM's Mary Barra, senior vice president of Global Product Development.

GM's Mary Barra, senior vice president of Global Product Development.

SAN FRANCISCO – General Motors plans to have up to a half-million vehicles equipped with electrification technology on the road by 2017, the company’s Mary Barra, senior vice president of global product development, told media attending the GM Electrification Experience in San Francisco on Wednesday. She said one focus of this effort will be plug-in electric technology.

“The plug-in offers a unique opportunity to change the way people commute,” Barra said. “Plug-based solutions will play a significant role in our technology portfolio going forward.” She added that the company "has every intention of maintaining our leadership position in plugged-in vehicles."

She also announced how the new Chevrolet Spark EV, set to debut at the LA Auto Show, will fit into this plan, saying that the vehicle will "play a vital role for our customers in selectr markets around the world." She went on to say that the company isn't building the Spark EV to "check a regulatory box," but that it will be a "spirited, fun-to-drive car that happens to be pure electric."

She used the Volt as an example of the direction GM intends to take their products.

“What started out as a technology proof point… has turned into a real-world starting point to push EV technology further and faster than we thought possible five years ago,” she said. “The unique propulsion technology pioneered in the Volt – the same technology that will be featured in the Cadillac ELR – will be a core piece of our electrification strategy going forward.”

In 2012, GM's Barra  said the company will sell more than 50,000 electrified vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt and the eAssist-equipped Buick LaCrosse, Regal, and Chevrolet Malibu. Through the month of October, GM's Barra said the automaker had sold more than 26,000 vehicles equipped with eAssist technology.

"When we introduced the Chevy Volt in late 2010, we put a stake in the ground that said GM is in the electrification game in a very big way," she said. "Incidentally, Volt enjoyed its best sales month ever in October, selling nearly 3,000 units in the U.S. alone. In fact, we’re on track to sell more than 50,000 vehicles equipped with GM electrification technology in the US this year. That puts us on track to lead some of our major competitors where it counts most – with the customer."

The automaker added that it plans to offer eAssist on the 2014-MY Chevrolet Impala when it debuts.