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Monday, January 27, 2020

G.M. Making Detroit Plant a Hub of Electric and A.V. Efforts [feedly]

G.M. Making Detroit Plant a Hub of Electric and A.V. Efforts

General Motors said Monday that it was investing $2.2 billion in a Detroit plant where it will produce all-electric trucks and sport utility vehicles, fulfilling a key promise made during last year's union negotiations.

The investment will fund upgrades like new machines and tools at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant's paint shop, body shop and general assembly area. The plant had been scheduled to close this month, but was spared in the October deal that ended the longest G.M. strike in half a century.

As part of that agreement, G.M. vowed to commit $3 billion to the plant's overhaul. The company says that promise is met by the investment in upgrades and an additional $800 million for supplier tooling and related projects.

Once in full operation, the plant will employ more than 2,200 people, the company said. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2021 on an all-electric pickup truck, followed by the Cruise Origin, a six-passenger vehicle that was unveiled last week and is intended for use as a self-driving taxi.


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Legacy automakers are in a race with one another and a slew of start-ups and technology companies to capture growing demand for electric vehicles while also preparing for the advent of autonomous vehicles. G.M.'s Cruise Origin, for example, faces competition from Uber and Waymo, which is a subsidiary of Google's parent company, Alphabet.

At the same time, that fight over an electric future has helped to reinvigorate the American automotive industry.

In 2018, Ford Motor announced that it had bought Michigan Central Station in Detroit, and would convert the abandoned office tower and train station — a symbol of the city's decline — into an urban campus focused on developing businesses that use self-driving cars.

Last year, Fiat Chrysler said it planned to spend $4.5 billion to update several Detroit plants, an investment that it said would create 6,500 jobs and allow the company to start making electric versions of its Jeep models if customer demand increased.

As part of an existing joint venture, G.M. and South Korea's LG Chem have invested $2.3 billion in a separate plant near Lordstown, Ohio, which will make the battery cells that will power the electric vehicles made at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, the company said. Executives have said that the venture, in the same area where G.M. shut down a plant last year, would create more than 1,100 jobs, with a groundbreaking expected later this year.

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In a statement, a G.M. spokesman said the investments announced on Monday were made possible by a state tax credit from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority.

"Over the past decade, the Michigan MEGA has helped enable G.M. to invest more than $10 billion in its Michigan facilities," the spokesman, Dan Flores, said.

Last week, the Michigan Strategic Fund, an economic development organization, approved changes to that tax credit, which it said had a remaining value of $2.27 billion. The revisions require G.M. to invest at least $3.5 billion in the state over the next decade, including at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

G.M. has built more than four million vehicles at Detroit-Hamtramck since it opened in 1985, the company said. The Cadillac CT6 and the Chevrolet Impala are produced at the factory, which will be idled at the end of February for several months for renovations.

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