DETROIT — In a push to produce cars powered by batteries or fuel cells, General Motors on Monday laid out a strategy to vastly expand the number of electric models in the marketplace.
GM said it would introduce two new all-electric models within 18 months as part of a broader plan toward what the company says is the ultimate goal of an emissions-free fleet. The two models will be the first of at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that GM plans to bring out by 2023.
GM’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, announced in September that the company, the United States’ largest automaker, expected the industry to move aggressively toward an automotive future with zero emissions, traffic accidents, and highway congestion.
The company has set no time frame for an all-electric portfolio of products, and expects to continue making cars and trucks powered by gasoline engines for an indefinite time.
But with governments from China to California considering stiff regulations to encourage the production of emissions-free vehicles, GM is responding with big promises to shift its business more toward cars propelled by batteries and fuel cells.
Mark Reuss, the company’s chief of global product development, said Monday that GM would introduce two new all-electric vehicles derived from its current battery-powered Chevrolet Bolt sedan.
“General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Reuss said at a media event at the company’s technical center in the Detroit suburb of Warren. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.”
He declined to specify what type of new models will be built off the Bolt’s underpinnings, but the chief of GM’s electrification strategy, Pam Fletcher, said the company is focusing on the development of sport utility vehicles and car-based crossover models.
Fletcher said the Bolt, a compact hatchback that was introduced late last year and is now on sale nationwide, has helped GM “see what is possible” in a future lineup of all-electric models.
Major automakers besides GM are also stepping up efforts to broaden their electric offerings. The German automaker Volkswagen has pledged to introduce a number of new battery-powered models in the next few years, and Ford Motor is expected on Tuesday to specify its plans for battery-powered models.
Meanwhile, electric carmaker Tesla said Monday that it delivered a record number of vehicles in the third quarter — but fewer of its new Model 3 sedans than anticipated.
Tesla delivered 26,150 vehicles in the July-September period, up 4.5 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Most were Model S sedans and Model X SUVs.
Tesla delivered only 220 Model 3 cars.
Production of the hotly anticipated Model 3 — which is half the cost of Tesla’s previous models — began in July. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the time he hoped to make 1,500 Model 3 sedans in September.
On Monday, Tesla blamed ‘‘production bottlenecks’’ for the slow rollout, but said it’s confident it can fix those issues.
Reuss said that achieving a zero-emissions future would require more than battery technology, and stressed that GM is also moving forward with hydrogen fuel-cell equipment that can generate electric power.
“There is a transition going on,” said Reuss, adding that GM has no set timetable to eliminate gasoline engines from its vehicles. He said that by the 2023 target date for the new electric models, GM will still be building cars, trucks and SUVs with internal combustion engines.
GM stock opened sharply higher — after the company’s event had been scheduled but before its announcement had been made — and was up almost 4 percent in afternoon trading.
Reuss said the company was not expecting job losses based on a shift away from gasoline engines, which currently account for a vast majority of the company’s production. And he said GM did not expect to be hurt financially by a move toward electric models, which can carry higher price tags than comparably sized gasoline-powered vehicles.
“The future will be profitable,” he said.