In the USA, the General Motors plant in Orion Township in the Detroit area in Michigan State is becoming the Group’s second to go fully electric, right after GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant. While the conversion to electric cars was planned for Detroit-Hamtramck for a long time, the transition at Orion Township has been somewhat sudden.
This October, the GM plant in Orion Township will suddenly find itself without combustion engines rolling off production lines since General Motors has decided to stop making the Chevrolet Sonic combustion engine model due to low demand. The Chevrolet Sonic is a small car that was sold in Europe as Chevrolet Aveo and withdrawn from European markets already in 2014. What remains for the Orion Township plant are only electric models, with the production of the revised Chevrolet Bolt and the new offshoot Bolt EUV. The move is rather involuntary, and it seems GM is keeping its options open at the Orion Township saying it will continue to build combustion engines there if necessary.
“We notified Chevrolet dealers of our plans to end production of the Chevrolet Sonic in October, due to declining demand,” GM spokesperson Megan Soule told Electrek. “This action also paves the way for the Orion Township Assembly Plant to prepare for the production of the refreshed Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, which will go into production in 2021. With this shift, it would make Orion an all-EV manufacturing facility, with the ability to build ICE vehicles as needed in the future.” Soule did not specify which internal combustion engine models could be built there in the future.
In March last year, General Motors announced an investment of $300 million for its assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan. The investment went into the production of a new Chevrolet electric vehicle as part of a total $1.8BN push. A year later, in March this year at GM’s EV Day for investors, General Motors CEO Mary Barra presented an overview of the Group’s electric strategy. A “new version” of the Bolt EV will arrive in late 2020, followed by the Bolt EUV in the summer of 2021. Indications suggest that the electric hatchback will receive a minor facelift.
At GM’s other Michigan plant –Detroit-Hamtramck – the last combustion engine rolled off the assembly line in February this year, and the factory has been converted for the production of electric cars since March. The GMC Hummer EV is to be built there, which will be later followed by the Cruise Origin from 2021. The Cruise Origin autonomous electric vehicle revealed in January will be the first product to use GM’s third-generation EV platform and Ultium batteries. Cruise emphasised the fact that the Origin is a production model, not a concept vehicle. At the same time, the US company gave no details on when the model will be produced.