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GM Canada Announces $1-Billion Electric Van Investment in Ingersoll, Ontario

Results of a ratification vote were to be released today after GM Canada and Unifor reached a tentative deal that will see the giant automaker invest C$1 billion to build electric vans at its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.

The plant currently makes Chevrolet Equinox SUVs, The Canadian Press says.

But now, “a GM spokesperson said in a statement the plan is to build BrightDrop EV 600s—an all-new GM business announced [last] week at the Consumer Electronics Show that will offer a cleaner way for delivery and logistics companies to move goods more efficiently,” CP writes. “BrightDrop’s first customer is FedEx, which will begin receiving GM’s EV600 electric vans later this year,” driven in part by rising demand from the increase in online shopping.

“Unifor national president Jerry Dias said along with the significant investment, the agreement between the company and union will mean new products, new jobs, and job security for workers,” CP states. “Unifor said the contract would bring total investment negotiated by the union to nearly $6 billion after new agreements were ratified with General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler in 2020 that included support from the federal and Ontario governments.”

With details due to be presented to Unifor Local 88 members at an online ratification meeting yesterday, the Ontario government praised the “good news” in Friday’s announcement. “Unifor and General Motors have worked together to reach a tentative deal that will further strengthen Ontario’s world-class auto sector for its workers, their families, and the communities they live in,” Premier Doug Ford and Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli said in a joint statement.

The news lands barely a week after GM announced it is “changing its corporate logo and launching an electric vehicle marketing campaign to reshape its image as clean vehicle company, rather than a builder of gas-powered pickups and SUVs,” CP reports.

The 112-year-old Detroit automaker has promised to roll out 30 new battery-powered vehicles globally by the end of 2025. In an announcement January 8, it said the new campaign will highlight its progressive vision for the future, with the industry at a history-changing inflection point for mass adoption of electric vehicles. 

The company “is scrapping its old square blue logo and replacing it with a lower case gm surrounded by rounded corners. The company says it’s the biggest change to its logo since 1964. The ‘m’ in the logo is underlined to look more like an electrical plug,” CP says.

“We felt it was just such a transformative moment that this is the time that we would change again,” said Deborah Wahl, GM global chief marketing officer. “Our message here is that we believe there should be an EV for everyone.”

GM is hoping the “Everybody In” campaign prepares buyers for a new era of vehicle propulsion.

Wahl said the marketing campaign behind the new brand will be “very significant,” but she wouldn’t say how much money would be spent or where it will show up. “You will see it in many places throughout the year,” she told media, adding that the campaign will start in the United States but eventually become global.

The new logo will go wherever GM now has a logo, including websites and buildings, but not in brand ads for vehicles, Wahl said. The company’s marketing will feature celebrities like author Malcolm Gladwell.

A campaign of “Everyone In” conflicts a bit with GM’s announced plans for electric vehicles such as a GMC Hummer pickup and Cadillac Lyriq SUV, both higher-priced vehicles CP adds. But Wahl said lower-priced vehicles are among the 30 new EVs that are coming.

The campaign comes as stock market investors are enthralled with companies that make electric vehicles, CP writes. Shares of global EV leader Tesla Inc. have skyrocketed more than 800% in the past year, and the company’s market value has passed US$800 billion. GM’s shares are only up slightly in the past year and its value is around $61 billion.

GM officials have said previously that they will have a small electric SUV that will cost less than $30,000 within five years.

Late last year, the company said it was nearing a battery chemistry breakthrough that will make electric vehicles as affordable as those with internal combustion engines in less than five years. Some will be able to go up to 450 miles per charge and from zero to 60 miles/97 kilometres per hour in as quickly as three seconds.

The company has promised to spend $27 billion on battery vehicles through 2025.