GM will invest $300M in Orion plant, announces second EV to join Bolt

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Chevrolet Bolt EV and Chevrolet Sonic vehicles are assembled Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at the General Motors Orion plant in Orion Township, Michigan. GM

General Motors announced Friday that it will build a second battery electric vehicle at the Orion Township, Michigan assembly plant that produces the Bolt EV. To accommodate the new model, GM will make $300 million in upgrades to the factory and add 400 jobs to the payroll.

The news follows days of criticism of GM by President Donald Trump over the company’s decision to shutter its factory in Lordstown, Ohio. In a press release announcing its plan for the as-yet unnamed EV, GM noted that it has openings at other U.S. factories for all but 100 of the 2,800 workers at Lordstown and other factories impacted by corporate belt-tightening. About 1,100 workers already have been transferred to other jobs, the automaker says.

The new EV had been slated for assembly abroad. GM attributed the change, in part, to plans for complying with proposed rules outlined in the trade agreement being negotiated between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

There’s a technical reason for the change, as well. The new EV will use an advanced version of the BEV2 platform underpinning the Bolt, so it makes sense to assemble the two cars in the same factory. The Orion factory also produces the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic and autonomous test vehicles based on the Chevrolet Cruze. The facility employs about 1,000 people.

GM has indicated that it is developing a new EV platform, but it will be used exclusively in Cadillac models. Sharing a platform with the Chevrolet Volt may have compromised the Cadillac ELR’s success as a luxury plug-in hybrid electric, and GM appears leery of repeating that mistake. GM has allocated $1.8 billion toward manufacturing operations in the United States.

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