GM ramps up investment proposal for EV production at Orion to $1.3 billion

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is seeking a tax abatement from Orion Township on a proposed $1.3 billion investment to build electric vehicles at its assembly plant there, according to the application obtained by The Detroit News, a sharp increase from the automaker's earlier $160 million request. 

The investment would lead to the creation or retention of 2,000 jobs, GM said in its application, with property improvements to start in July. Sources previously told The News GM plans to use the plant to build electric trucks based on its new Ultium battery-electric platform. The recalled Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV are the products currently housed there, but production is down through February as GM works through the recall.

The GM Orion Assembly sign in Orion Twp., Wednesday afternoon, November 3, 2021.

In a statement, GM spokesman Dan Flores said: "GM is developing a business case for a potential future investment at Orion Township.  As part of developing a competitive business case, we have had discussions with the appropriate local officials on potential incentive opportunities. We have recently resubmitted our tax abatement application with Orion Township.  We are not going to speculate or disclose the details of the projects under consideration beyond the information included in our public filings."

The proposed investments by GM follow rival Ford Motor Co.'s $11.4 billion investments with partner SK Innovation of South Korea to build an assembly and battery plant in west Tennessee and battery plants in Kentucky — a surprise move that spurred state lawmakers in Lansing and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to push through a hefty business incentive package to attract similar investment in Michigan.

In its application GM wrote the "proposed investment is primarily for the construction of several additions and land improvements to support electric vehicle production."

GM previously filed to receive an abatement for a $160 million investment to build a new battery pack assembly line at the plant, but the automaker asked the township to pull that application and resubmitted a new one in early January. 

The total investment at Orion is likely to be significantly more than $1 billion. GM invested more than $2.2 billion to transition its Factory Zero Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center to build EVs. 

And GM is also looking to invest billions in Delta Township near Lansing for a battery cell manufacturing plant it's proposing to build there with battery partner LG Energy Solution. GM also applied to receive local and state tax breaks for that project. 

In Orion, GM is requesting the maximum years permitted for the tax abatement: 12 years, plus three years during the construction phase. A public hearing on the abatement is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 18.