The conversion of General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant into the all-electric ‘Factory ZERO’ is now complete, the grand opening having taken place yesterday before the facility’s employees and GM officials, as well as United States President Joe Biden.
The refurbished Detroit facility will be the production hub of electric GM trucks and SUVs, specifically the new Chevrolet Silverado EV, the Cruise Origin, and SUV and pick-up variants of the newly-electrified GMC Hummer EV. Production of the latter, first unveiled in 2020, is already underway.
Production is now set to begin at the former Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, less than two years after GM announced the massive US$2.2 billion investment to fully renovate the facility to build a variety of all-electric trucks and SUVs. Pre-production of the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV pickups began at Factory ZERO this fall and GMC HUMMER EV is on track to deliver the first vehicles to customers by the end of the year. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)
The aforementioned models will all share GM’s new Ultium platform, an architecture that incorporates not just the battery packs but also the associated EV motors and electronics. Significantly, the added flexibility of Ultium – termed the “heart of the company’s EV product strategy” – compared with that of GM’s internal combustion platforms is set to be more streamlined, and thus financially more efficient, across all of its assembly plants.
Factory ZERO is also a significant step in General Motors’ green initiative, which looks to reduce tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035, and to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040. To help its sustainability goals, GM has already committed US$35 billion towards the production of electric and autonomous vehicles, with more than 30 models set to introduced before 2025.
“This is a monumental day for the entire GM team,” GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra explained in an official statement. “We retooled Factory ZERO with the best, most advanced technology in the world to build the highest quality electric vehicles for our customers.
“GM’s U.S. manufacturing expertise is key to achieving our all-electric future.”
Revamping the Detroit plant was completed for just two-thirds of the cost of a brand-new ‘greenfield’ facility, a move that, if introduced across GM’s existing manufacturing facilities, could produce a net saving of $20 billion and up. Reduced construction times was also a factor: production at Factory ZERO is ready to begin less than two years after GM announced the US$2.2 billion investment into its renovation.
Interestingly, ‘Factory ZERO’ references not just zero emissions from the electric vehicles set to be manufactured there, but also GM’s vision of a world “with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”