Jan 27, 2020

GM to invest $2.2 billion to revamp Detroit plant for electric production

GM CEO Mary Barra. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

GM will detail plans Monday to invest $2.2 billion to retool its Detroit-Hamtramck plant for production of electric and autonomous vehicles, per multiple reports.

Driving the news: The vehicles include the Cruise Origin, which is the 6-passenger, driverless electric van unveiled last week.

  • The plant's lineup after a 12–18 month overhaul is also "said to include the return of Hummer vehicles branded under GMC, and possibly an electric GMC Sierra and Cadillac Escalade," the Detroit News reports.
  • The paper notes that a senior GM exec, in a letter to employees Friday, said the plan includes "electric pickups, SUVs and AVs."

Why it matters: It signals that GM plans to make Detroit a key hub for those technologies in the years ahead.

  • "The investment brings with it 2,200 jobs at a plant targeted for closure before it found new life during tense negotiations over the course of a six-week strike by the United Auto Workers union last fall," per the Detroit News.

Go deeper: Cruise says new self-driving van will save passengers $5,000 a year

Go deeper

GM is eating Tesla's exhaust

Tesla Model 3. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

While Tesla shares went into Ludicrous Mode this week, GM executives were on Wall Street pitching investors on their own vision of an electric, self-driving future. But as Bloomberg notes, the market isn't buying.

Why it matters: GM may be investing billions to transform its business for the future, but to many investors, Tesla's lead in the fledgling electric vehicle market is seen as insurmountable.

The great electric pickup production race

GMC Hummer's grille and the Tesla cybertruck. Photos courtesy of General Motors and Tesla

Automakers are competing to make the buzziest, strongest, fastest electric truck that would fare well in a dystopian future — albeit one with a reliable grid and eco-conscious drivers.

Driving the news: OK I'm being flip (it's Friday!), but yesterday brought news that GM is indeed reviving the gas-guzzling Hummer as a fully electric and powerful "super truck" with seriously gaudy specs.

Corporate clients could provide a lower-cost path to electric vehicles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Carmakers are compelled to introduce electric vehicles to meet rising emissions standards, but the transition is expensive and fraught with risk, and consumers aren't yet on board.

The state of play: There's another potentially faster and cheaper path to electric vehicle adoption: electric delivery fleets. They could catch on faster, especially with new approaches to design and production, and provide a large-scale proof of concept for consumers.