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General Motors Will Convert Hamtramck Factory To Autonomous & Electric Vehicle Production

GM’s Detroit/Hamtramck factory will close at the end of February and will be reconfigured to produce electric vehicles, including the Cruise Origin electric shuttle.

There has been an auto manufacturing facility straddling the border between the cities of Detroit and Hamtramck since the Dodge brothers built a factory there in 1911. In 1980, the site was acquired by General Motors by eminent domain after a bitter battle with the local community. GM demolished the original building and replaced it with a new factory. GM builds Chevrolet and Cadillac sedans there, but times have changed and the factory was scheduled to close in June of 2019 as sales of sedans plummeted. It was added to a list of 5 factories the company designated as surplus.

Cruise Origin

One of the results of the 6-week strike against GM by the UAW last year is that GM will keep the Hamtramck factory open, according to a report by the Detroit News. The company says it will invest $2.2 billion to reconfigure the facility to manufacture electric vehicles and the Cruise Origin, an autonomous electric shuttle unveiled last week. That’s according to a letter sent to employees at the factory last Friday by Gerald Johnson, executive vice president of global manufacturing for General Motors.

Production of an electric pickup truck, which will likely be sold as a Hummer, is scheduled to begin in late 2021 according to Johnson’s letter. An electric SUV is expected to follow soon after the electric pickup truck launches and will most likely be marketed as a Cadillac when it arrives. In all, GM says it will offer 20 electric vehicles by 2030, according to The Verge. But whether that means battery electrics or plug-in hybrids or mild hybrids is unclear at this time. Update: We had a man on the ground in Michigan for this announcement, Loren McDonald, who got to talk with President Mark Reuss and other executives about this news. The 20 electric vehicles will be fully electric, as the company has decided it’s time to go beyond hybrids. More info will be coming in a story right here later today.

The Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 sedans are scheduled to cease production at the Hamtramck factory at the end of February. After that, the factory will be closed for a number of months so the work of reconfiguring it to build electric vehicles can begin, a process that could take up to 18 months to complete. One part of the factory may be dedicated to assembling battery packs.

The new iteration of the factory is supposed to employ 2,200 workers, which is about a quarter of the number of people who worked there at its peak, but far better than the zero number of employees the company had in mind when it was thinking about shutting down the plant.

No start date for the Cruise Origin has been announced. “I think there is going to be quite a bit of work involved before they are ready to deploy,” Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Navigant Research, tells the Detroit News.

In addition to new investments in the Hamtramck factory, General Motors has recently entered into a partnership with LG Chem that will see the two companies invest $2.3 billion to remake the GM factory in Lordstown, Ohio into a battery manufacturing facility. That factory has also been on GM’s list of surplus factories until now. The new facility will employ 1,100 workers.

Look for the new electric pickup truck from GM to debut in an ad starring LeBron James that will air during the Stupor Bowl game this Sunday.

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