Though some believe the jury is still out on the future of autonomous and electric vehicles, automotive giant General Motors is bullish on the technology. According to a company statement, the automaker announced Monday it would spend $2.2 billion to refurbish an underused Detroit factory to build several electric and autonomous vehicles, eventually employing 2,200 people.
General Motors said the first vehicle produced at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant would be the company’s first all-electric pickup truck, with production scheduled to begin in late 2021. This will be followed soon after by the Cruise Origin, a shared, electric, self-driving vehicle unveiled by Cruise in San Francisco last week. Detroit-Hamtramck will be GM’s first fully dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant.
“Through this investment, GM is taking a big step forward in making our vision of an all-electric future a reality,” said Mark Reuss, GM president, during a press event at the plant with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other local and state officials. “Our electric pickup will be the first of multiple electric truck variants we will build at Detroit-Hamtramck over the next few years.”
Once the plant is fully operational, it is expected to create more than 2,200 U.S. manufacturing jobs, according to General Motors. The manufacturer will also invest an additional $800 million in supplier tooling and other projects related to launching the new electric trucks.
The announcement confirms GM’s non-wavering commitment to electric vehicles. Since Fall 2018, GM has committed to invest more than $2.5 billion in Michigan to produce electric vehicles through investments at Orion assembly, GM battery lab in Warren, Brownstown and the announced direct investment in Detroit-Hamtramck.
The work involves comprehensive upgrades to the plant’s paint and body shops and general assembly area, including new machines, conveyors, controls and tooling.
The battery cells for these vehicles will be produced through GM’s joint venture with LG Chem, who is investing $2.3 billion to manufacture battery cells in Lordstown, Ohio.
Detroit-Hamtramck currently operates on a single production shift and builds the Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Impala. Approximately 900 people are employed at the plant, which has built more than 4 million vehicles since opening in 1985. The plant will be idled for several months beginning at the end of February as the renovations begin.