Editor’s Note: Updates 6th paragraph with outcome of ratification voting
General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) will invest $800 million in a makeover of a plant in Ingersoll, Ontario to build its EV600 electric delivery vans.
BrightDrop is a new business within GM offering a first-to-last-mile ecosystem of connected and electrified products and services. GM digitally revealed BrightDrop last week at CES 2021.
Adding the EV600 along with the EP1 electric e-pallet, and a software platform for fleet and asset management, immediately makes GM a player among traditional and startup companies offering electrified commercial vehicles.
Bevy of awards
The GM Canada-owned CAMI plant had built three generations of Chevrolet Equinox crossover SUVs since 2004. It has a bevy of manufacturing efficiency awards. Converting CAMI to build electric vehicles is a big deal for CAMI as it assures its manufacturing future in a company investing $27 billion to bring 30 electric vehicles to market by 2025.
“That’s clearly where the market is heading, and we’re a vital part of it.” said Jerry Diaz, Unifor national president. The 310,000-member Unifor was founded in 2013 as a merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions.
GM and Unifor announced the deal on Friday night. The two sides reached a preliminary agreement, which members approved with 91% voting in favor. GM also said it was counting on approval of incentives from the Canadian government.
“It is good news for Ontario, for those employees in the auto sector, and for the businesses and employees in the supply chain that supports auto assembly in Ontario,” Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Dennis Darby told The Canadian Press.
GM sells the gasoline-powered Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana commercial vans made at a plant in Wentzville, Missouri near St. Louis.
Battery pack joint venture
Separately, GM plans to have 400 employees hired at a new electric vehicle battery cell-making joint venture with South Korea’s LG Chem in northeast Ohio by the end of the year, the Youngstown [Ohio] Vindicator reported.
The 3.1 million square-foot plant will have annual capacity of more than 30 gigawatt hours in cells for Ultium battery packs. Its first customer is GM’s Factory ZERO in Detroit. GM is spending $2.2 billion to retool and upgrade the former Detroit-Hamtramck plant to build electric vehicles at scale.
The GM-LG Chem facility is expected to start production in early 2022. The $2.3 billion facility is under construction east of the former GM Lordstown manufacturing complex that GM idled in March 2019. GM sold the plant to startup Lordstown Motors Corp. (NASDAQ: RIDE), which plans to build electric pickup trucks.
GM said it had no future product to assign to Lordstown. President Donald Trump pressed GM CEO Mary Barra to find work for the plant.
The United Auto Workers, which represented Lordstown hourly workers, struck GM nationally for 40 days in September and October 2019. Part of the labor action protested the lack of a new product for Lordstown.
The electric van production announcement from GM Canada and Unifor came five days before Trump leaves office.