GM is expected to convert a Mexico assembly plant over to EV production.
General Motors remains as committed as ever to its vision of a future with "zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion," but the second prong in that vision might pose significant difficulties when it comes to manufacturing.
Currently, GM's Lake Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan handles production of the automaker's only current battery-electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and the plant is expected to pick up the Bolt's utility vehicle cousin, as well as the Cadillac Lyriq crossover. The automaker's Detroit-Hamtramck plant was shuttered in March to undergo roughly a year of retooling to prepare to make the GMC Hummer electric pickup and SUV, the hand-built Cadillac Celestiq halo car, and a couple of other EVs.
But as Automotive News correctly points out, that still leaves several confirmed EV model lines unaccounted for.
In its annual Sustainability Report issued earlier in July, General Motors made specific mention of no fewer than twelve forthcoming EVs, including five from Cadillac, three from Chevrolet, two from GMC, and two from Buick. GM's Lake Orion Assembly and Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly are expected to produce seven of them, but the matter of where the other five will be built is the subject of some debate.
Some industry forecasters that Automotive News has spoken to are of the opinion that some or all of that production could be shifted to Mexico with GM's assembly plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico being retooled for EV production come 2023. The plant currently builds the Chevrolet Blazer and Equinox crossover models. Alternatively, some say GM's Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant, which currently builds the Chevrolet Camaro pony car and the Cadillac CT4 and CT5 sedans, could make the switch in 2024.
Either way, it means billions of dollars in investments, and taking production capacity away from internal combustion vehicles and committing it to EVs, at a time when the math is perhaps a bit shaky. While most pundits agree that electric propulsion will some day represent the bulk of new car sales, it's uncertain when that will be, and the market has been slow to adopt EVs.
Still, Cadillac Chief Steve Carlisle, who's set to become GM's President in North America in September, told Automotive News that "now is the time to really start moving forward" with creating conditions favorable to EV success.
"We are pretty convinced that we need to be launching [EVs] sooner versus later," Carlisle says. "I think the question will be more of what does the transition look like? How long does the transition take?"