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Thousands of GM engineers reassigned to work on EVs

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.