GM has a long history of building cars, as they date back to 1908 when William Durant first started the company. Sure, they first started with horse-drawn vehicles as that was the time when the internal combustion engine was just getting started. But they soon got into their stride and moved to gas-powered cars, and their future was paved with gold. Almost…
Since Tesla entered the market, everyone has been skeptical of electric vehicles. Until 2021 that is. That year was the turning point in my eyes, and legacy automotive companies started to take EVs seriously.
GM has actually been making EVs for a while, having dabbled back in the 90s with the EV1, which no one seems to remember. And then their comeback with the Chevy Bolt in 2016. Although it has certainly been a great model for GM, it has only sold around 80k vehicles since that time.
GM Gets Serious With EVs
Mary Barra started to get more serious with EVs back in 2021, with a swathe of new vehicles on the way using their Ultium battery platform. These included the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac LYRIC, and the Silverado Truck.
Despite the fact that the Hummer has already come out, GM has been decidedly slow off the mark compared to Ford which has released the Mach E and will soon debut the new F-150 Lightning.
They do have big plans though, with their first fully EV factory called – Factory Zero!
What Is GM Factory Zero?
Factory Zero is a repurposed factory that GM has been producing vehicles at since 1985. It is located on the border of Detroit and Hamtramck and was formerly called Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant for obvious reasons. It was opened in November 2021 with the production of the first GMC Hummer EVs.
GM has transformed this former ICE vehicle factory into a modern EV factory that is the focus for their EV push in the coming decade. Although they have already started producing the GMC Hummer EV at this plant, they plan to build a range of other EVs here such as the Chevrolet Silverado and the Cruise Origin.
What Is So Different About Factory Zero?
GMs Factory Zero aims to lift their game to new levels on many fronts.
Sustainability & Renewable Energy
For starters, they plan to be as sustainable as possible by using 100% renewable energy on the site by 2023. They have a 516-kilowatt solar array from DTE to produce all of the electricity they need, as well as a 30kW solar carport. Of course, all of these are things that Tesla is already doing at their plants and many of their Superchargers where the roofs are covered with solar. But hat off to them for making the effort.
They have also made some smart moves at the site by reusing materials as they reshape the plant and making space for wildlife where they can.
This sustainability effort is part of a more general move that they plan to roll out over the coming decade.
Now is of course the time to make use of more advanced manufacturing techniques in an age where everything is connected and robotic.
GM has seized the opportunity to rethink their plant in Detroit and inject some more future-proof elements. They are the first US automotive manufacturer to install Verizon’s 5G Ultra-Wideband technology. This will help them connect and monitor their manufacturing to enable better data, faster innovation and improved quality. It also helps greatly with robotics that move parts around the floor to help speed up and automate such things.
Of course, they have also taken the chance to bring all the tooling up to scratch in areas such as the body shop and paint shop as well as adding battery pack assembly in the plant.
GM does not manufacture their own batteries at this point though.