President Joe Biden’s Wednesday, November 17 visit to General Motors (GM) in Detroit brought a charge to the already-electrified atmosphere at the former Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant where electric vehicles will soon be assembled.
His tour of the revamped facility marks a major milestone in its commitment to an all-electric future as Biden, International UAW and UAW Local 22 leadership, plant employees and other officials join forces to celebrate the grand opening of the Factory ZERO EV assembly plant.
Production is now set on tap to start at the new assembly plant, less than two years after GM announced the $2.2 billion investment to fully renovate the facility to build a variety of all-electric trucks and SUVs.
Biden shared new economic insights and how Detroit will receive huge benefits from these changes.
“It’s great to be back,” Biden said during the event, adding that some great news is coming to the city. “Through the leading agencies on Wall Street confirmed today … that the economic proposals we put forward for the nation — the infrastructure law we just signed in the Build Back Better plan — are being considered this week and Congress will not add to inflationary pressures in the economy.”
Biden said the reasoning behind that is because the policies he proposed, “Help lift long-term economic growth via stronger productivity…as well as taking the edge off inflation.”
Biden, who grew up in an automobile family, said to the boisterous crowd that he was raised on cars and appreciates GM vehicles.
“I want to thank the team here at GM, especially to your chairwoman Mary Barra. Mary, you are an incredible leader.”
“GM’s U.S. manufacturing expertise is key to achieving our all-electric future,” Barra said in a press release. “This is a monumental day for the entire GM team. We retooled Factory ZERO with the best, most advanced technology in the world to build the highest quality electric vehicles for our customers.”
The name Factory ZERO reflects the significant role the facility plays in advancing GM’s vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. Factory ZERO will be home to the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV Pickup, 2024 GMC HUMMER EV SUV, Chevrolet Silverado EV and the Cruise Origin, an all-electric, self-driving, shared vehicle. When fully operational, Factory ZERO will employ more than 2,200.
All Factory ZERO EVs will be built on GM’s Ultium Platform, the heart of the company’s EV product strategy. The Ultium Platform encompasses a common vehicle architecture and propulsion components like battery cells, modules, packs, drive units, EV motors and integrated power electronics, and is fundamental at plants where EVs are produced.
GM retooled Factory ZERO for EV production for two-thirds the capital required to build a greenfield plant, making the facility a model for future GM facility renovations. As the company continues its transition for an all-electric future, GM will avoid up to $15 billion in capital costs by 2030 through the renovation of existing manufacturing facilities versus ground-up construction. The figure grows to $20 billion to $30 billion at 100 percent transition of GM’s manufacturing facilities to support EV production. That capital can be redeployed more strategically for additional customer-facing products, services and technologies.
Along with the capital advantages, GM’s commitment to renovating its existing network of manufacturing facilities during the EV transition also saves time. An accelerated launch and production start allow the company to get new, innovative EVs to customers sooner. Pre-production of the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV pickups began at Factory ZERO this fall and the first GMC HUMMER EVs are on track to be delivered to customers by the end of the year.
“To meet our ambitious EV transition, GM’s North American EV vehicle assembly capacity will reach 20 percent by 2025, and then 50 percent by 2030,” said Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Sustainability. “Factory ZERO serves as a model for transitions that will take place at other factories around the world in the coming years.”
U.S. Representative Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) said during the event that she is proud to represent the 14th District, which includes the assembly plant.
“It’s an honor to be here today as we talk with our fellow members of Congress and community leaders and UAW workers,” she said adding that no one is better qualified than Detroit to produce electric vehicles, which is a boost to the economy through job creation. “Who put the world on wheels to transform to electric vehicles. … We are living in a time in America we can tell our children we wrote history (and) believe in Joe Biden and believe in Michigan.”
Using virtual tools and working in parallel with production engineering teams, GM cut the manufacturing launch time in half – from two years to less than one – creating a competitive advantage. By comparison, greenfield assembly plant planning and construction could take up to four years, from site selection to vehicle production.
GM estimates that 80 percent of the assembly process for an EV is the same as that for conventional vehicles. This is another driver of speed for GM. The company has refined and perfected its own standardized manufacturing processes over many decades, and will launch its expanding portfolio of EVs faster, with superior quality and a lower cost.
GM’s Factory ZERO team is backed by more than 90,000 industrial problem solvers on GM’s global manufacturing team, who have 1.4 million years of collective experience. They are managing an average of 11 major launches each year, both internal combustion engine and EV. As a result, GM can produce an EV in the same number of working hours it takes to build an ICE vehicle.
“Our people are GM’s true competitive advantage — an advantage you simply can’t buy or quickly build,” said Johnson. “At Factory ZERO, we are building on that experience with the training that will deliver EV and AV launch success with safety, quality and speed while continuing to drive down cost per unit.”
As an EV assembly plant, Factory ZERO plays a direct role in GM’s commitment to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035 and become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040.
Factory ZERO highlights include:
- GM reused or recycled almost every material that came out of the facility during conversion, including crushed concrete from the old plant floor, which was repurposed for temporary roads around the facility.
- Stormwater will be recycled to reduce discharge costs and offset the cost of potable water.
- Treated stormwater will be used in cooling towers and the plant’s fire suppression system.
- The site features a 30-kilowatt solar carport and a 516-kW ground-mounted photovoltaic solar array from DTE Energy.
- Factory ZERO’s site has a 16.5-acre wildlife habitat that is home to monarchs, foxes and turkeys.
Through Factory ZERO, GM is showcasing its manufacturing leadership capability and readiness for what will be a fundamental shift in mobility as the company transitions to an all-electric future.
More information can be found at https://www.gm.com.
Watch the full video here.