Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly: GM's first 'fully dedicated' EV plant
Detroit — General Motors Co.'s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, targeted last year for closure, will instead become the automaker's first fully dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant.
GM President Mark Reuss said Monday the automaker will invest $2.2 billion for the all-electric future at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, showing the Detroit automaker's commitment to making sure the city and the state remain at "the epicenter of the global automotive industry as we continue our journey together to an electrified future."
"We are truly building the future today," Reuss said, "and we are doing it here in our hometown and home state, just up the road from our world headquarters."
Starting in late 2021, the plant will build a variety of all-electric trucks and SUVs, but GM only confirmed that it would build its new self-driving, all-electric Cruise Origin shuttle at the Detroit plant. The automaker didn't confirm whether the truck built at the plant would be based on the Hummer, as has been reported previously.
GM is expected to air a commercial during the Super Bowl Sunday that features LeBron James and the electric Hummer branded under GMC. Reuss teased that more news could be coming during the Super Bowl: "I can definitely tell you this, the Super Bowl match-up Sunday between the Chiefs and the 49ers shapes up to a be a classic and you should all tune in."
The automaker plans to offer more than one type of electric pickup to be produced at GM's "D-Ham" plant. GM expects to field entries that range from a basic truck package to one with off-road and towing capabilities.
"Like those two teams, the electric pickups we will build here will be the best players on the field. This is architected to be scalable and used for multiple brands, multiple variants with multiple customers," Reuss said. "We will offer different ranges of performance at different price points to meet customers wherever they are."
Production will begin for the Cruise Origin soon after the electric pickup, though a specific date wasn't mentioned. The all-electric, self-driving shuttle developed by Cruise LLC, the autonomous-vehicle unit of GM, and partner Honda Motor Co. was unveiled last Tuesday in San Francisco. A boxy vehicle with no steering wheel or gas pedal, it is intended to be used in a ride-sharing fleet. It is powered by a new all-electric platform built by GM.
The 4.1 million-square-foot Detroit-Hamtramck plant first opened in 1985. It's built more than 4 million vehicles including the Cadillac Eldorado, Seville, DeVille, Pontiac Bonneville, Chevrolet Volt, Buick LeSabre and Oldsmobile Toronado/Trofeo.
The Detroit-Hamtramck plant was headed for closure until GM agreed to keep it open during intense negotiations last fall with the United Auto Workers. But plants in Warren, Lordstown, Ohio, and Baltimore, Maryland, closed last year as planned.
When Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan learned in November 2018 the Detroit-Hamtramck plant was on the list to close, he called GM CEO Mary Barra and said: "Mary, I'm not asking you to extend the production of the vehicles of the past. That doesn't do anybody any good. But you've been headquartered in the city of Detroit for 100 years; we have a special relationship. If you're going to build the vehicles of the future somewhere, why wouldn't you build the future of the vehicles in the city?"
Saving the plant was dependent on the cost of the contract GM reached with the UAW during negotiations that led to a six-week national strike against the automaker, Duggan said: "The UAW leadership made the investment in this plant a huge priority at the bargaining table. They never wavered in their commitment to get the reinvestment in Detroit."
The investment brings with it 2,200 jobs. About 800 work there now with the plant operating on one shift.
After production of the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 ceases at the end of February, employees will be offered transfer packages to other plants with one of the packages offering less transfer money but recall rights back to Detroit-Hamtramck. The plant's 12- to 18-month retooling will include comprehensive upgrades to the paint and body shops.
"Over 2,200 jobs and a new technology product will deliver job security and a bright economic future for UAW members for decades to come at Hamtramck," UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, director of the union's GM department, said in a statement.
GM said the state's support for the project was a key driver in keeping the Detroit-Hamtramck plant open. No financial incentives were offered by the state for the Detroit-Hamtramck investment, said Otie McKinley, media and communications manager for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Last week, GM agreed to reduce and cap state tax breaks as part of a deal that will require the automaker to invest $3.5 billion in the state in the next 10 years, including at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. Under the agreement, the value of the GM's maximum tax credit will be reduced by $325 million to about $2.28 billion. The new agreement also adds annual caps for the remaining decade of its 20-year Michigan Economic Growth Authority tax credit agreement that ends in 2029.
In return, the automaker can be more flexible with staffing. The original terms of the 2009 agreement allowed the automaker to claim only 6,750 jobs at the GM Technical Center in Warren and did not allow it to claim credit at its Renaissance Center headquarters.