General Motors has announced plans to invest US$2.2 billion in its Detroit-Hamtramck plant to produce all-electric trucks and sport utility vehicles, as well as a new-model self-driving taxi.
The investment is part of a $3-billion commitment the company made during negotiations that ended a 40-day United Auto Workers strike last fall, the New York Times reported last month. GM will spend another $800 million on “supplier tooling and related projects,” the paper says.
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“Through this investment, GM is taking a big step forward in making our vision of an all-electric future a reality,” said GM President Mark Reuss, during a media event alongside Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and other state and local 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 in full operation, the plant will employ more than 2,200 people,” the Times writes, citing a GM release. “Production is scheduled to begin in late 2021 on an all-electric pickup truck, followed by the Cruise Origin, a six-passenger vehicle that was unveiled last week and is intended for use as a self-driving taxi.”
The Times says legacy automakers like GM “are in a race with one another and a slew of start-ups and technology companies to capture growing demand for electric vehicles while also preparing for the advent of autonomous vehicles.” The article identifies Uber and Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, as competition for the Cruise Origin.
That competitive pressure has “helped to reinvigorate the American automotive industry,” the Times says, with Ford opening a new urban campus in Detroit, Fiat Chrysler planning plant upgrades worth $4.5 billion, and GM teaming up with Seoul, South Korea-based LG Chem on a $2.3-billion battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio.
The Michigan Economic Growth Authority promoted the process with state tax credits, driving more than $10 billion in investment by GM alone, company spokesperson Dan Flores said.
“The support from the state of Michigan was a key element in making this investment possible,” Reuss said. “This investment helps ensure that Michigan will remain at the epicentre of the global automotive industry as we continue our journey to an electrified future.”
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