GM Makes Massive EV Investment in EV Pickup Production, Factories01/25/2022
General Motors today confirmed it is investing $7 billion in new and updated Michigan plants to build electric trucks, including the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV fullsize electric pickup as well as the electric GMC Sierra fullsize truck, starting in 2024. The electric trucks will be made at GM’s Orion assembly plant (which will get a $4 billion retooling and expansion) and Factory Zero in Detroit-Hamtramck. Orion will be the second plant to make electric pickups in Michigan, augmenting production of the 2022 GMC Hummer EV fullsize pickup truck at Factory Zero.
When both truck plants are ramped up and running three shifts, they will be capable of making 600,000 electric trucks a year, GM CEO Mary Barra said at a press conference in Lansing. The truck capacity will contribute to GM’s ability to make more than 1 million EVs a year in North America by the end of 2025.
“We know the demand is here,” Barra said, given the customer response to the EVs GM has announced as part of its growing portfolio. GM will have the broadest EV portfolio of any automaker, Barra said of the wide range of vehicles in the works, mostly SUVs and trucks, but also including a limo-like Cadillac. GM continues to say it will achieve EV leadership by mid-decade, which means toppling Tesla. It also means beating Ford, which has equally lofty EV ambitions and which sold more EVs in 2021 than GM. GM is working towards an all-electric lineup by 2035 and plans to convert half of its North American assembly capacity to EV production by 2030.
The $7 billion is the largest single investment announcement in GM history, Barra said, adding 4,000 new jobs and reflects GM’s commitment to making Michigan the epicenter of the electric vehicle industry.
Making Electric Trucks in Orion in 2024
In Orion, GM’s investment will go to converting it to a dedicated electric truck plant slated to start production in 2024. Orion currently has about 1,200 employees who make the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the larger Chevrolet Bolt EUV small electric crossovers. The plant has been down since last summer because of a recall on 2017-2022 Bolts that may have defective batteries that can cause a fire. When production resumes, the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV will continue to be produced at the plant during the construction and retooling, meaning their lifespan at Orion ends in 2024 when truck production takes over.
The expectation is the Bolts, which use GM’s older BEV2 electric vehicle architecture, will be replaced by new small electric crossovers which will migrate over to the Ultium platform that will underpin every new GM EV going forward.
GM is spending $35 billion on electric and autonomous vehicles. The product plans call for 30 new EVs to be launched globally by 2025, and all will come from the Ultium platform and be new from the ground up—no existing platforms will be retrofitted, GM President Mark Reuss said.
Separate Plant for Electric Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra
The Silverado EV does not need to be made in the same plant as the conventional Silverado with a combustion engine because the two share next to nothing. But the Silverado EV will ride the same assembly line at Factory Zero as the Hummer pickup. The two trucks ride on the same Ultium platform, even though they do not share any body panels or glass.
GM has said the work truck or commercial-fleet version of the Silverado EV will hit streets in spring of 2023 but retail customers must wait until fall 2023 for their orders for a fully loaded $105,000 RST to be filled. It seems the early builds will come from Factory Zero, given that Orion will not be in production until 2024.
GM’s roster of plants that make electric vehicles includes Factory Zero in Detroit-Hamtramck, which makes the 2022 GMC Hummer EV fullsize pickup truck and will add the Silverado as well as the 2024 GMC Hummer SUV fullsize electric SUV and the Cruise Origin autonomous rideshare vehicle. The assembly plant underwent a $2.2 billion renovation to make vehicles that use GM’s new Ultium battery management system and BEV3 electrical vehicle architecture.
GM is also spending $2 billion to make its plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, a dedicated electric vehicle facility. The first vehicle off the line will be the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq midsize crossover that is due in a few months.
The CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, will make electric commercial vehicles, mostly delivery vans, for GM’s BrightDrop division. CAMI currently makes the Chevrolet Equinox and there is an electric version coming: a $30,000 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV that is due in the fall of 2023, but it is unclear if it will be added to the Canadian plant. GM’s fifth EV plant is the Ramos Arizpe plant in Coahuila, Mexico. GM has not said what it will build in Mexico.
Third GM Battery Cell Plant in Lansing
In Lansing, GM will build a $2.6 billion battery cell manufacturing plant adjacent to the Delta Township assembly plant west of Lansing, creating 1,700 jobs when it goes online in late 2024.
GM previously announced plans to make battery cells in four joint venture plants with LG Energy Solution. The first Ultium Cell plant will open this year in Lordstown, Ohio. The second joint plant will start production next year in Spring Hill. Lansing makes three, with one more location still to be announced.
In addition to the EV announcements, Barra said $510 million will be used to upgrade two other Michigan plants. The Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant will be updated to make the next-generation Chevrolet Traverse and the sister Buick Enclave family crossovers. The Lansing Grand River Assembly plant will be updated for unspecified near-term products.
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