Detroit – Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm returned to Michigan on Thursday to present the president’s Build Back Better agenda for infrastructure investments, including support for the automotive industry’s emission-free transformation.
The former governor of Michigan used General Motors Co.’s Factory Zero at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center as a backdrop for his visit as the former incinerator shifts to manufacturing fully electric vehicles, starting later this year with the GMC Hummer EV pickup truck.
Granholm toured Metro Detroit on the same day that President Joe Biden, along with leaders of the Detroit Three automakers, presented a plan to gradually raise mileage and emission standards over the next five years and set a goal of making half of all new vehicles sold to emissions 2030 -free.
Detroit automakers GM, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV said they will aim to sell 40% to 50% of emission-free vehicles annually by 2030.
“Detroit Three is in the White House and we’re here showing exactly what they’re talking about, which means we’ll have 50% of the new vehicles manufactured by GM, Ford … be completely electric,” Granholm said. “And that vehicle, the Hummer … is so debt-free. You can drive a big old car without debt without having to worry about emissions.”
Granholm added that the dedicated efforts of the Detroit Three automakers mean that “we will build the supply chains here in Michigan, we will build the vehicles here in Michigan, Michigan is the spearhead of the future of the electric car.”
The president’s best surrogates travel across the country as part of a “massive push” to unveil his $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, which includes investments in electric vehicle infrastructure. Granholm made several stops on Thursday in Metro Detroit, which began with a tour of a Magna International Inc. factory in Holly and ended with a visit to GM’s only assembly plant in Detroit.
Factory Zero at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center is one of five North American factories that GM has so far chosen to build electric vehicles. The GMC Hummer EV pickup and SUV, the self-propelled Cruise Origin shuttle and the electric Chevrolet Silverado will all come out of this factory one day. Production of Hummer EV pickups will be the first to roll off the line starting at the end of 2021.
GM placed Detroit-Hamtramck, which opened in 1985, on a potential closure list in 2018. But instead of closing the plant, GM agreed in 2019 national contract talks with United Auto Workers to keep the factory open. The Detroit carmaker is investing $ 2.2 billion to build electric vehicles there.
Construction at the plant began after the last Chevrolet Impalas were built in late February 2020, just before COVID-19 hit Michigan.
In June, GM raised its spending on electric cars and autonomous technology development to $ 35 billion by 2025. The carmaker plans to have 30 electric cars globally within the same time frame.
GM Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing Gerald Johnson, who was present throughout Thursday’s tour, said that Granholm had previously visited when the factory manufactured Chevrolet Volt hybrid vehicles. Granholm has owned a Volt and currently drives a Chevrolet Bolt EV.
“The partnership with us and the government is necessary for this transformation to take place at the pace that we have just committed to and … that President Biden has just committed to,” Johnson said, noting that infrastructure, consumer and business incentives to assist in the transition are welcome from the government to assist in the effort.
Democratic U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and Brenda Lawrence of Southfield were also on the Factory Zero tour and discussed training with GM plant leaders who joined.
“I can not imagine a young person walking through this facility and seeing how relevant this is compared to the old factories where they do not see them fit, so we have to retrain,” Lawrence said. “We need to invest in the next generation of skilled professions … I’m excited to have the next generation move this country forward.”
Factory Zero will eventually have more than 2,000 employees working with electric cars. Some of them previously worked at the factory and manufactured combustion vehicles.
UAW Local 22 Shop Chairman Mike Plater said GM’s EV sales commitment is “a big deal for this factory … we’ll build great products for customers. Local 22 will show up and show off to build those products . ”
Staff writer Riley Beggin contributed.