General Motors is seeking a tax abatement from Michigan’s Orion Township on a proposed $1.3 billion investment to expand its assembly plant in an effort to build electric trucks. Currently, the GM Orion Assembly plant is responsible for the construction of the troubled Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, the automaker’s first mass-produced battery electric vehicles.
According to The Detroit News, the $1.3 billion plan is a significant increase from the previously proposed $160 million investment. The original abatement application stated GM was seeking to build a new battery pack assembly line at the facility, but the automaker canceled that application and submitted a new one earlier this month. The new plan now seeks to add several structural additions and land improvements to support electric vehicle production.
Sources told the outlet that GM plans to use the plant to build electric trucks based on its new Ultium battery electric platform. Currently, Ultium underpins electric trucks like the GMC Hummer EV pickup and SUV, along with the recently unveiled Chevrolet Silverado EV. GM also recently announced plans to debut a line of electric HD trucks sometime before 2035.
GM already announced the Silverado EV would be built alongside the GMC Hummer EV at Factory Zero in Detroit-Hamtramck. The plant is also a likely destination for the upcoming GMC Sierra EV. Moving forward we can also expect the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV full-size SUVs to transition onto the Ultium platform. GM currently builds its full-size SUVs at Arlington Assembly in Texas.
In its application to the township, GM said the investment would lead to the creation or retention of 2,000 jobs. GM invested more than $2.2 billion in transitioning the former Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center to build EVs. Orion assembly is already set up for EV production and won’t require as large a revamp.
GM is also rumored to be looking at investing billions in Delta Township for a battery cell manufacturing plant with battery partner LG Energy Solution. GM’s proposed investments rival Ford’s $11.4 billion investments in west Tennessee to build an assembly and battery plant, along with a further battery complex in Kentucky.
GM Factory Zero Currently The Only Earmarked Plant For Electric Trucks
Looking at surprising demand for the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck, Ford Motor Company has announced multiple production volume increases, from 40,000 units, to 80,000 units to 150,000 units annually. The Lightning will be built at the Rouge Manufacturing Complex, where the top-selling Ford F-150 is currently built.
General Motors may be observing this strategy, and is looking to parlay its own with the renovation of the underused Orion Assembly Plant to build its soon-to-be portfolio of electric trucks and SUVs. Because as it stands, the GM Factory Zero plant has been officially earmarked to build the GMC Hummer EV pickup truck and SUV, as well as the Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV; all of which ride on the GM BT1 Platform. Factory Zero is also tasked with building the Cruise Origin autonomous vehicle. Earlier reports cited that GM is also working on electric versions of its popular Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, as well as the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. These vehicles will also ride on the GM BT1 architecture and utilize the modular Ultium battery technology.
By our basic math, that would be eight vehicles under one roof being built at GM Factory Zero. And that’s not counting the electric GM HD trucks expected in a few years. A bit overwhelming, no?
The GM Orion Plant – which will likely get a rename (Factory One? Two? Factory Zero.2?) – would likely split the duties of building these GM BT1 platform vehicles with Factory Zero. Stay tuned to MC&T as we await the official announcement from General Motors, and any inkling as to what sort of vehicles are set to be built at Orion Assembly.