GM pumps extra billions in EVs and autonomous driving
America’s number one carmaker, GM, is pumping another 8 billion dollars into EV development and autonomous driving. In November, CEO Mary Barra announced a $27 billion investment in an ‘all-out pursuit of global EV leadership’. Now the counter is set to $35 billion.
According to sources quoted by several media, GM will use the money to speed up some EV investments, build two additional battery factories in the US, and get the Cruise Origin autonomous vehicle on the road, of which 100 pre-production models are currently built.
Developed for 1,6 million km
The assembly of these pre-production shuttles began last month at GM’s Factory ZERO assembly plant, the former Detroit-Hamtramck factory that has been renovated. The Cruise Origin is developed from the ground up as an electric autonomous shuttle for carrying up to six people in a really spacy cockpit where no driver, no steering wheel, and no dashboard can be found.
The vehicle, which is no longer than a traditional car, is developed to operate at the lowest cost and last six times longer, or up to a million miles (1,6 million km). Cruise wants to start intensive testing its new fleet of shuttles for validation. Currently, Cruise operates a fleet of 160 autonomous cars – converted electric Chevrolet Bolts from GM – in San Fransico.
General Motors is the major shareholder of Cruise Automation, the start-up it took over in 2017. Japanese Honda and Softbank are essential partners, as is asset management company T.Rowe Price. Now Cruise gets a credit line of another €5 billion – doubling its war chest – to prepare the autonomous ride-hailing service with the Cruise Origin shuttles.
Striving for global EV leadership
In November, Mary Barra said GM wants to strive for ‘global EV leadership’ and to have 30 electric models by 2025. She already hinted at advancing the development of certain electric models, like bringing the Cadillac Lyriq forward from late 2022 to early 2022. GM wants to sell more than one million electric vehicles per year in the US and China from 2025.
GM’s new Ultium architecture and battery technology are key to the announcements. The company now claims an electric driving range of up to 450 miles on a single charge, up from 400 previously stated.
The second generation of Ultium batteries, available mid-decade, should close most of the cost gap with gasoline engines, GM global product development chief Doug Parks told reporters. That is when GM expects to double energy density while reducing costs by 60%.
Two additional battery factories
According to the AP news agency, GM President Mark Reuss said there would be two additional battery cell plants in the US, next to the two to be built with Korean battery partner LG Chem. But Reuss didn’t give any further details.
GM and LG Chem announced earlier plans for setting up factories in Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee. These battery factories should open in 2022 and 2023, respectively.