General Motors has just placed a big bet on the expected growth of the electric vehicles market, investing $300 million in its Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan, USA. This is the same location where the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Chevrolet Sonic, and the autonomous Cruise AV cars are made, but the fresh investment will add new lines that will produce the EV platforms of the future.
Originally, GM was planning to materialize this new line in China, as the ever-precious cobalt that is needed for the batteries of the cars is produced right there anyway, but the pressure from the Trump administration and the increasingly dire environment for the trade between the two companies have led them to change their minds. As the CEO of the company, Mary Barra stated characteristically:
“It makes sense because the Chevrolet Bolt EV is built at Orion and this is a great workforce. There is capacity here to be able to do that, and there are synergies as well. We are excited to bring these jobs and this investment to the U.S. This new Chevrolet electric vehicle is another positive step toward our commitment to an all-electric future. GM will continue to invest in our U.S. operations where we see opportunities for growth.”
GM is gradually shifting its focus towards electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and combinations of both. Their take is that by 2030, the market will only support players who had prepared for this transition. The new Michigan plant line is expected to begin rolling out its first EVs by 2023, while by 2020, GM will have allocated significantly more engineering resources to the R&D for the new EV platform. Their goal is to derive a platform that will be versatile enough to be used in a wide range of different models, body styles, and transmission layouts. Rumors suggest that Bolt’s architecture will be used as the basis for the next-gen platform, as it was proven very successful in terms of car handling and road behavior.