Preparations for the conversion of the Detroit-Hamtramck production facility into a pure electric car plant, announced by General Motors at the end of January, will begin in March. There are also reports of concrete subsidies for the planned GM battery factory in Ohio.
But first a look at Michigan: According to local media, the last combustion engine will roll off the assembly line at the plant this week. It is said to be a sedan from Chevrolet’s Impala series. The conversion work for the production of electric cars is to start as early as March. As is well known, Hamtramck will become a pure electric plant, where the GMC Hummer EV and later the self-propelled electric car Cruise Origin will be built from 2021.
General Motors is investing a total of 2.2 billion dollars in the plant, which was originally planned to be closed down completely. With its completely modernised production facilities, the Detroit plant will play a major role in the US group’s electric plans. GM already announced that the final assembly, the paint shop and the body shops would be adapted. The upgrades include new machines, conveyors, controls and tools.
However, General Motors has not released any information on whether the entire site layout will also be changed. The company already revealed that the battery cells for the electric vehicles from Hamtramck are to be manufactured in the planned battery plant of GM and LG Chem in the neighbouring state of Ohio. It remains to be seen, however, where the cells will be assembled into modules and ready-to-install battery packs. Due to the proximity of the two sites, battery assembly in Hamtramck seems like an obvious choice, but GM has not confirmed this.
Hamtramck employees worried about 1.5 year unemployment period
What still is not clear, is what will happen to the workers from Hamtramck during the 12 to 18-month conversion period. According to Detroit News, GM plans to offer the workers jobs at other plants in Michigan and Ohio. There they could displace temporary workers, according to the report, but the US-American carmaker is getting some resistance on this from the union UAW. There are also supposed to be different compensation packages for a move, some with a right of recall for Detroit-Hamtramck. Some employees are therefore afraid of sliding into unemployment for a year and a half. Allegedly GM wants to make first offers starting at the end of February. When Hamtramck is running at full capacity again, the company expects 2,200 employees.
There is also news about the battery cell factory in Lordstown, Ohio, planned by General Motors together with LG Chem: As the ‘New York Times’ reports, GM will receive a tax reduction of 75 per cent for the factory, which will extend over 15 years. This is said to have been decided by Lordstown City Council. “What we had to get done and needed to get done for General Motors, we did,” said Mayor Arno Hill.
GM closed a much larger assembly plant in Lordstown in March 2019. Although the battery factory is much smaller (1,100 jobs instead of the previous 4,500), the city sees it as an important project for the future and apparently continues to support it despite the plant closure. GM has sold the assembly plant itself to the local start-up Lordstown Motors, which plans to build electric pickups at the factory.
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany.