General Motors (GM) is speeding toward electrifying Motor City. Earlier this year, the Detroit-based company revealed that it would be investing $2.2 billion into converting its 4.1 million-square-foot Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant into the company’s first 100 percent electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing plant. GM had previously considered closing the plant, but kept it open to continue manufacturing vehicles into early 2020. The transformation began in March, and vehicle production is slated to begin in late 2021.
GM says that when the upgraded plant is fully operational it will create over 2,200 manufacturing jobs and credits the state of Michigan for playing a major role in making the investment possible. “This investment helps ensure that Michigan will remain at the epicenter of the global automotive industry as we continue our journey to an electrified future,” said GM President Mark Reuss. The plant will “receive comprehensive upgrades” to its paint and body shops and general assembly area, including new conveyors, tooling, controls, and machines, according to GM.
Since opening in 1985, the Detroit-Hamtramck plant has produced more than 4 million vehicles, according to GM. Before March, the facility was manufacturing two vehicles: the Cadillac CT6 and the Chevrolet Impala and employed around 900 people. GM says that the upgraded plant will produce “a variety of all-electric trucks and SUVs” including the company’s first, all-electric pickup truck, and the Cruise Origin–a “shared, electric, self-driving vehicle.” “Our electric pickup will be the first of multiple electric truck variants we will build at Detroit-Hamtramck over the next few years,” said Reuss. The GMC Hummer EV, slated for a fall 2021 release, will also be produced at the plant. GM has confirmed that it will invest an additional $800 million in projects related to the launch of its new electric trucks.
GM has recently embarked on a bold path toward an all-electric future. In March, CEO Mary Barra announced that GM would be investing $20 billion in electric and automated vehicles by 2025. Just weeks ago, the automaker revealed that it would be partnering with fast EV charging industry leader EVgo to bring more than 2,700 new fast chargers to convenient locations across the country. Not long after that announcement, GM’s luxury brand Cadillac unveiled its first all-electric vehicle LYRIQ. “We believe climate change is real, and we have the ability and responsibility to create a cleaner, healthier planet,” said Barra. “We want to get as many E.V.s on the road as possible.”
During the early twentieth century, Detroit gained its Motor City namesake as the global center of the automotive industry; a place where the “Big Three” automakers, General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford once flourished. By 1950, Detroit was the fourth most populated city in the U.S.–booming with manufacturing jobs, according to The Week. But by the late 2000s, due to a variety of factors like its sole reliance on the auto industry, the city’s population had dramatically declined, and in 2013 Detroit filed for bankruptcy. Not long before that in 2009, after a few years of declining sales, GM also filed for bankruptcy. However, since Mary Barra took over as CEO in 2014, GM has seen a remarkable recovery. The company has been able to maintain its position as the top-selling automaker in the U.S., and is now hoping to electrify Motor City’s once-bustling auto industry for the next generation.