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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

GM appears to be serious about their zero-emissions vision: the company is shifting 75% of its powertrain engineers from internal-combustion engines to electric vehicle development as it prepares to unleash of wave of EVs under the Cadillac brand.

The big picture: GM CEO Mary Barra has laid out a blueprint for shifting to electric, self-driving cars — a world, she says, with "zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion." That will require shifting resources to AV and EV development — at a time when GM is closing factories and laying off 15,000 workers, triggering the wrath of President Trump.

What's happening: In a meeting with investors this morning, GM is expected to share more details about its next-generation of electric vehicles — 20 EV or fuel cell powered models to be released by 2023.

  • They'll be based on a flexible EV architecture, enabling many body styles in front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations.
  • Most of the EVs will be introduced as Cadillacs, a chance to position the iconic-but-tarnished luxury brand once again as a tech leader.
  • The first model, a Cadillac crossover utility, will debut in 2021.
  • A big focus will be on China, Cadillac's top-selling market.
  • Eventually, Buick, GMC and Chevrolet will share the electric vehicle architecture.

What we're hearing: GM President Mark Reuss is doubling the resources dedicated to EVs and AVs — not dollars, but brainpower.

  • Its Cruise Automation self-driving unit is reporting progress on the AV front: CTO Kyle Vogt tweeted video of its driverless cars easily handling complex traffic in San Francisco ahead of this year's launch of a commercial robo-taxi service.

The bottom line: Today 75% of GM's 4,000 powertrain engineers work on internal combustion engine technology, and 25% work on EVs. Soon, those numbers will be reversed.

Go deeper

U.S. ambassador to Russia will return home briefly: State Department

John Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, during a briefing in Moscow in 2015. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The State Department said Monday that the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, will now be returning to the United States this week before returning to Moscow "in the coming weeks."

Why this matters: The statement, from a State Department spokesperson, comes just hours after Axios reported that Sullivan had indicated he intended to stand his ground and stay in Russia after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home to talk with his team.

Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, in Jan. 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy, according to an internal document from Ukraine's ministry of defense reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: With the eyes of the world on the massive buildup of troops in eastern Ukraine, the leaked memo shows Russian forces escalating their presence on all sides of the Ukrainian border.

Elon Musk: Autopilot feature wasn't enabled in fatal Texas crash

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Monday that "data logs recovered so far" show the car's Autopilot feature was not enabled — and it did not have access to "full self-driving mode" — in the deadly crash in Texas involving the company's electric vehicle.

Background: Local investigators said they believed the car was operating without anyone in the driver's seat. At the time of death, one man was in the passenger seat, while another was in the rear seat, KPRC 2 reports.