General Motors said that on Tuesday it would invest about $ 2 billion in its Spring Hill, Tennessee, assembly plant.
The announcement comes on the same day that the automaker will officially unveil another long-range battery-electric vehicle, the GMC Hummer. GM plans to have “20 or more” battery-electric vehicles or BEVs in production by 2023.
“We are committed to investing in America, our employees and our communities,” said Mary Barra, GM’s president and CEO. “These investments underline the success of our vehicles today, and our vision of an all-electric future.”
The Spring Hill plant was originally intended to push manufacturing boundaries as home to GM’s Saturn brand. However, Saturn was abandoned when GM emerged from bankruptcy a decade ago. It currently produces a mix of crossover-utility vehicles including the Cadillac XT5 and XT6, as well as models for the GMC and Australian Holden brands.
The Tennessee complex, which covers 7.9 million sq ft and currently employs approximately 3,400 hourly employees, will become the third assembly plant dedicated to GM BEV production. Others include a factory in Orion Township, Michigan, now assembling the automaker’s first long-range model, the Chevrolet Bolt. The third was recently named Plant Zero and Squats on Detroit’s border and in the hamlet’s enclave.
While the Spring Hill plant will continue to produce gas-fired products like the Cadillac crossover, other factories will be dedicated exclusively to electric vehicles. Although specific plans for Plant Zero have not yet been announced, it is widely expected to handle the production of the new Hummer, which will be offered as both SUV and pickup, as well as an all-electric Chevrolet pickup – and possibly raising Nikola bagger.
GM was previously one of the first automakers to bring an all-electric vehicle to the EV1 market, but it is now taking serious targets only in the segment – and market leader, Tesla. By 2023, it expects widespread offerings for all four North American brands, as well as other brands offered overseas, especially in China where its new Wuling micro battery-car is currently outsourcing to Tesla is.
The automaker has confirmed that it will offer American buyers an existing version called the Bolt EUV, along with the current Chevy Bolt. Next year it will launch two versions of the Hammer, with Limera to follow in early 2022.
“Nobody is finding that this former gas-gazler (hammer) is coming back as an electric vehicle,” said Evan Drury, senior manager of Insights for Edmunds. “With that, demonstrating that ‘big’ is not necessarily disqualifying, the Hummer EV represents a monumental paradigm shift that not only benefits GM, but also in pushing consumer acceptance of EVs into a new realm will help.”
Critically, GM expects its new Ultium battery to cost $ 100 per kilowatt-hour, down from $ 145 per kWh with the current Chevrolet Bolt. For a vehicle like the Hummer, which is expected to have a packet of at least 100 kilowatt-hours, the savings will be considerable. And GM officials have told NBC that their long-term goal is to be below $ 70 per kWh. According to the Boston Consulting Group, it will essentially impose BEVs on parity with comparable gas-driven products.
With so many new BEVs in the works, industry analysts question whether GM has confirmed that three electric vehicle plants will be sufficient. Some, such as the Wuling Micro, are produced and sold only overseas.
The automaker’s Tuesday announcement also included another $ 153 million invested in five Michigan plants for future products.