General Motors apparently wants to produce the Ultium platform for its electric vehicles in China in the future through its joint venture with SAIC. According to local media, SAIC-GM has recently entered into a strategic partnership with the Wuhan municipal government.
According to this agreement, the Ultium platform will be manufactured in the capital of Hubei province. However, no timetable for the alleged start of production or manufacturing capacity is mentioned in the reports. There is no comment from the joint venture or General Motors in the US on the report.
The first Ultium vehicle to be launched in China is the Cadillac Lyriq SUV in early 2022, followed by Buick and Chevrolet electric cars. It is possible that these will initially be imported vehicles if only now an agreement has been signed with the responsible authorities for manufacturing. The Lyriq will be manufactured in the US at GM’s Spring Hill plant in the state of Tennessee.
The report goes on to say that SAIC-GM plans to invest more than 50 billion yuan (about 6.4 billion euros) in electrification, among other things, by 2025 and to introduce more than ten Ultium-based electric models manufactured in China. Possible models – including those of the above-mentioned Buick and Chevrolet brands – are not yet named.
According to the media report from Wuhan, a local supply chain is to be established for manufacturing, with over 95 per cent of the parts in the Ultium vehicles reportedly coming from local production. Thus, the introduction of the platform should help the auto industry in Wuhan to accelerate its transformation.
For General Motors, such a high local manufacturing rate would mean a huge transition. The battery cells, which are important for electric cars, are not purchased from a cell supplier for the Ultium models, but are produced in a joint venture with LG Energy Solution in two of its own battery factories in the USA. It is not known whether GM and LGES intend to build such a factory near Wuhan or whether GM will use cells from another supplier.
SAIC-GM has been active in Wuhan since 2015 and is already building three New Energy Vehicles there, more precisely the BEV versions of the Chevrolet Menlo and Buick Velite 6 as well as the PHEV version of the Buick model.
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