General Motors Co. said yesterday it will pour more resources into electric vehicles, in the form of $8 billion and two new factories to build batteries.
The news comes amid a busy week for electrification at GM. On Monday, the company announced new support for electric autonomous vehicles and said it would furnish batteries and fuel cells for electric trains.
The new money demonstrates how America’s largest automaker is quickening its move toward EVs. In the last 15 months, GM has upped its investment from $20 billion to $27 billion and now to $35 billion, an overall increase of 75%.
Paul Jacobson, GM’s chief financial officer, said yesterday that channeling the new $8 billion was a relatively easy call based on the response to the new EVs it has unveiled recently, including the Hummer SUV and the Cadillac Lyriq.
“It’s a much stronger environment than we thought going into the year,” he said at Deutsche Bank’s Global Auto Industry Conference.
He added, “Vehicles in preproduction and early versions of production are selling out in minutes. You start to get really excited about what the forward calendar is.”
GM’s latest bout of EV spending comes a month after Ford Motor Co., its crosstown rival, increased its spending on EVs from $22 billion to $30 billion. However, Ford’s schedule is more leisurely — its spending is through 2030 while GM’s is to 2025.
Among traditional automakers, GM’s electrification campaign trails only Volkswagen AG, which by 2025 plans to spend $86 billion.
GM’s goals haven’t changed. As before, it plans to introduce 30 new electric models and sell 1 million EVs globally by 2025.
But the new funds will accelerate the production of electric SUVs and bankroll new electric commercial vehicles, according to a news release. That last part may fall under BrightDrop, a new commercial-trucking platform that GM teased early this year (Energywire, Jan. 13, 2021).
GM offered scant details about its new battery factories. The two new plants will join others that the automaker is now building at locations in Ohio and Tennessee.
Asked where the factories will be and whether these new factories will have the same production partner — LG Chem Ltd. — Jacobson declined to answer.
Underpinning all of these investments is GM’s battery platform, called Ultium. On Monday, GM made clear that the batteries will appear not just on roads, but on rails.
GM signed a memorandum of understanding this week with Wabtec Corp., a maker of train equipment, on electric locomotives. The intent is to use either Ultium batteries or GM’s Hydrotec hydrogen fuel-cell batteries, or perhaps both.
The locomotives “can accelerate the rail industry’s path to decarbonization and pathway to zero-emission locomotives by leveraging these two important propulsion technologies,” Wabtec’s CEO, Rafael Santana, said in a statement.
Also this week, GM announced that Cruise, its autonomous-vehicle spinoff, will get a $5 billion umbrella loan.
The money will enable Cruise, based in San Francisco, to purchase models of the Origin, an electric and autonomous shuttle that GM intends to roll off Detroit production lines by 2023.
Other automakers, meanwhile, made announcements yesterday.
Volvo AB, the Swedish-Chinese automaker, said it would make an electric SUV at its plant in Charleston, S.C. The vehicle is the Polestar 3, the flagship of a new subbrand.
And Ford announced electrification plans for its luxury Lincoln brand. It will have four battery-electric models, with the first available next year, and will have some form of electrification for all models by 2030.
Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2021. E&E News provides essential news for energy and environment professionals.