In the next five years, General Motors said it would spend $27 billion on the production of electric vehicles and autonomous technologies, a 35% rise that exceeds the investment of the automaker in gas and diesel and is an attempt to get goods to market faster.

The company said more than half of the capital investment and product development team of GM would be committed to electric and electric-autonomous vehicle programmes. The U.S. automaker is also speeding up its timetable for the go-to-market and adding more EVs to its portfolio plans. GM set out an ambitious strategy on Thursday to add 30 new electric vehicles to the global market by 2025. By 2023, the firm had previously committed to 20 EVs. More than two-thirds of those launches will be available in North America and every one of GM’s brands, including Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet and Buick, will be represented, according to the automaker.

The acceleration of GM’s plans, which include moving forward nine months to the first quarter of 2022 for the launch of its Cadillac Lyriq SUV, comes amid a whirlwind of EV activity in the automotive industry. Numerous start-ups have announced mergers to become publicly listed firms with special purpose acquisition companies, a step aimed at attracting the resources needed to scale. Legacy car manufacturers such as Ford and VW Group are ramping up their own EV plans.

In order to boost production and add more vehicles to its portfolio, Tesla, the existing electric car manufacturer in this region, is building a factory in Austin and another in Berlin. Consumers will have more EV options than ever before by the end of next year, including the Lucid Motors Air, the Rivian R1T pickup truck and the Mustang Mach-E by Ford.

“We don’t just want to participate, we want to lead,” said Doug Parks, GM’s Global Product Growth, Purchasing and Supply Chain executive vice president, during a pre-announcement call with reporters. It’s a good leap for Tesla, and they’ve done amazing things, and so they’re great competitors. There’s a lot of start-ups flooding the room, and everyone else and we’re not going to secede leadership there.

The strategy of GM is to condense the conventional 50-month growth period by scrapping traditional approaches and implementing a less hierarchical approach focused on teams, Parks said. The design to market timeline for the electric GMC Hummer, for instance, will be 26 months, he said.

As a response, Parks said GM is shifting three GMC electric vehicles and four Chevrolet EVs, including a pickup and a compact crossover, as well as four Cadillacs, all of which use its new Ultium battery. GM said two Ultium-based EVs would be included in Buick’s lineup.

In a bid to keep momentum and eventually exceed its rivalry, GM is also on a hiring spree. The company said 3,000 electrical systems, infotainment software and control engineers were recruited earlier this month, plus developers for Java, Android, iOS and other platforms.

GM also has a joint venture for the production and supply of battery cells for its modular architecture with LG Chem. This modular architecture, dubbed ‘Ultium,’ (same as the battery) would be capable of 19 different configurations of battery and drive units, 400-volt and 800-volt storage packs ranging from 50 kWh to 200 kWh, and configurations of front, rear and all-wheel drive. The large-format pouch battery cells manufactured at this new factory will be at the centre of the new modular architecture.

The two companies had previously committed to investing up to $2.3 billion in the new joint venture, as well as setting up a battery cell assembly plant that will generate more than 1,100 new jobs at a greenfield development site in the Lordstown region of Northeast Ohio.

The plant, which is already under construction, will have an annual capacity of 30 gigawatts per hour. To put that in perspective, the 35 GW-hour potential of Tesla’s factory in Sparks, Nevada, which is part of a collaboration with Panasonic.


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