GM Investing $2.2 Billion To Build To Only Electric Vehicles At Detroit Factory

GM Investing $2.2 Billion To Build To Only Electric Vehicles At Detroit Factory

General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant has a 35-year history of being on the cutting edge for the automaker, often with mixed results. GM hopes to break that streak late next year when the factory officially becomes the company’s first electric vehicle only facility. Detroit-Hamtramck will be the home of electric pickup trucks, SUVs and the just announced Cruise Origin automated vehicle. 

Word that Detroit-Hamtramck would build the electric pickup truck first came out last fall after GM settled a six-week strike with the United Auto Workers. Earlier in 2019, GM had announced that the products currently being built in Detroit including the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac CT6 would be discontinued and no new products had been assigned. In the new union contract, GM agreed to produce electric pickups in Detroit. That has now been extended to include SUVs and Origin.

When the plant opened in its current form in 1985, then GM CEO Roger Smith hailed it as a showcase for the future of the company. It was designed as one of the most highly automated car factories in the world with automated guided vehicles silently sliding around delivering vehicles and parts to assembly stations. Just as when Elon Musk tried to over-automate Model 3 assembly at Tesla’s factory a couple of years ago, things didn’t work out so well. 

Much has been learned in the decades since and GM hopes that the $2.2 billion investment in the plant known within the company as DHAM will have a better return. The plant is currently down to just one shift of production with 900 employees building the CT6 and Chevrolet Impala. Both of those are scheduled to end in the coming weeks. Once the plant has been re-tooled for assembly of electric vehicles and battery packs, the hope is to employ 2,200 people on multiple shifts. 

The new electric pickup trucks are scheduled to begin production at DHAM in the second half of next year followed by SUVs and the purpose built automated vehicle for Cruise. There has been considerable speculation recently that GM would revive the dormant Hummer brand for the electric trucks and utilities. 

Regardless of what nameplates are applied to the new EVs they will be coming into a crowded and as yet unproven market for electric trucks with entries from Ford, Rivian and Tesla due to be in production. Eventually the plant will be supplied with lithium ion cells produced at another recently announced factory in Ohio. That plant is a joint-venture between LG Chem and GM located near the now idle Lordstown assembly plant. 

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