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GM Makes Empty EV Promises As Strike Talks Continue

The United Auto Workers decided to strike General Motors this week after contract negotiations failed to achieve a new contract acceptable to the union. The next day, the company issued a statement saying it intends to invest $7 billion in its US manufacturing facilities over the next 4 years.

The United Auto Workers decided to strike General Motors this week after contract negotiations failed to achieve a new contract acceptable to the union. The next day, the company issued a statement saying it intends to invest $7 billion in its US manufacturing facilities over the next 4 years. According to Reuters, some of that money will go toward funding the production of electric vehicles in Michigan and battery cells in Ohio.

UAW GM strike

Credit: UAW

The roots of the strike go back to 2007, when GM went bankrupt and the union members agreed to a number of concessions in order to keep their jobs. Since then, the new GM has reaped record profits and the workers want their share of them. But more than anything else, NBC reports they want job security at a time when the Lordstown plant in Ohio is sitting idle, the Hamtramk plant in Detroit is scheduled to close, and the company has decided to build its new Chevy Blazer in Mexico instead of the US.

GM says it plans to introduce a line of electric vehicles by 2023 but has provided no details. Sources tell Reuters those vehicles will feature an advanced battery system and a new vehicle structure that is flexible and modular to accommodate different vehicle types and sizes. There is talk of an electric pickup being built in Michigan and a battery cell plant somewhere in Ohio sometime in the future, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

That’s a stretch, don’t you think? Up to this point, nothing has been written about GM spending 10 cents on advanced battery systems. Everything in the EV end of things has been farmed out to LG Chem, which makes the batteries for the Chevy Bolt and manufactures many of the components for that car including the dashboard.

Tesla has been working for years with Jeff Dahn and his team of battery research wizards at Dalhousie University. And now GM is going to wave a magic wand and create advanced battery systems on demand? There’s more than a bit of magic realism involved in that claim.

Are you waiting for the other shoe to drop? Here it is. Over the past three years, GM has spent an average of $8.45 billion a year on capital expenditures, most of it in the US. Now it wants us to get all weak in the knees because it plans to spend $7 billion more spread over 4 years? Get real.

Buried in the details of the announcement from GM is the news that much of that $7 billion will be used to update its existing lineup of SUVs and trucks. Oh. So it’s same old, same old at GM. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. The company says it is going to build a lineup of electric cars real soon. “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.

 
 
 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?

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