General Motors revealed today it plans to double the number of battery-electric vehicles produced at Factory Zero, the assembly plant anchoring its transition to all-electric products.
The 35-year-old facility, which straddles Detroit’s border with the suburb of Hamtramck, will begin rolling out the new GMC Hummer EV SUV, as well as a new line of all-electric pickups for the Chevrolet brand. The automaker previously announced that Factory Zero will produce both the GMC Hummer EV pickup, as well as the battery-power Cruise Origin, a completely driverless shuttle vehicle.
They’re among 30 all-electric models GM promised to roll out by 2025. The automaker plans to invest $27 billion in BEV and AI development by mid-decade, $7 billion of that this year alone, “investments that demonstrate we’re willing to change the world right now,” said GM President Mark Reuss during a ceremony at Factory Zero Tuesday afternoon.
From gas-guzzling Cadillacs to all-electric Hummers
The facility was originally opened in 1986 as a Cadillac plant. Throughout the years, it has gone through a series of updates, launching one of GM’s first electrified vehicles, the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, a decade ago.
Declining sales of other models produced at the facility led GM to announce three years ago that it would be shut down, along with two other North American assembly plants. Instead, the automaker worked with the United Auto Workers union to come up with a plan to save what was then called the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.
The company announced it would save the factory in January 2020, dedicating it to electric vehicle production. The transformation will cost $2.2 billion and see the already cavernous workspace expand from 2.5 million to 3.5 million square feet.
The future is (almost) now
“This is where the future will be made,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said during the Tuesday ceremony at Factory Zero.
Production is scheduled to begin later this year with the pickup version of the Hummer due in GMC showrooms by late 2021.
That will be followed next year by the Cruise Origin, a ride-share shuttle. The all-electric vehicle was developed by GM’s San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise. It will be entirely driverless and not even come equipped with pedals or steering wheel.
The GMC Hummer EV SUV will follow by early 2023. GM has not said precisely when the Chevrolet Silverado EV will debut but it is expected to launch around the time of the Hummer SUV. A number of versions will be offered, Reuss said Tuesday, with an emphasis on “models designed specifically for fleet and commercial customers.”
Commercial EV market expected to grow exponentially
Commercials buyers were slow to embrace EVs, initially, but demand is rapidly growing as new offerings are introduced and operating costs plunge. Sales have rapidly accelerated among delivery fleets, such as those operated by Amazon, UPS and others.
GM CEO Mary Barra in January of this year announced that the automaker intends to stop selling gas and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035. To meet that goal it will have to upgrade or replace its entire manufacturing network. So far, it has announced that three other plants will go all-electric. The factory in Orion Township, Michigan began producing BEVs with the launch of the 2016 Chevrolet Bolt EV. It just added a second model, the Chevy Bolt EUV.
GM confirms three other battery plants — with more coming
The GM plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee will launch BEV production next year with the Cadillac Lyriq. And GM’s Oshawa, Ontario assembly line will handle production of the new BrightDrop electric delivery vehicle.
The Oshawa plant originally was slated to close, along with the Detroit-Hamtramck factory. The Motor City factory was renamed Factory Zero last October. The name represents GM’s goal of producing electric, autonomous vehicles that are involved in zero crashes, create zero pollution and result in zero traffic congestion.
The third of the plants GM said it was closing has also come back to life, and also has a future in the emerging electric vehicle market. The Ohio facility was sold to EV startup Lordstown Motors and is scheduled to beginning rolling out the battery-powered Endurance pickup late this year.