GM Will Say Goodbye To the Chevy Bolt EV and EUV This Year

General Motors will execute its electric vehicle strategy faster than people think, CEO Mary Barra told investors today as she outlined timelines for a number of upcoming vehicle launches and plans to build a fourth battery cell plant in North America, while announcing that the Chevrolet Bolt will cease production by the end of the year.

GM will build about 50,000 EVs in the first half of the year and double that in the second half. Barra says GM is on track to build 400,000 EVs in North America from 2022 to mid-2024. About three quarters of capital spending is going to EVs, Barra tells analysts on a call to discuss first-quarter earnings.

Bye Bye Bolt

The Orion, Michigan, plant retooling is at the point where Chevrolet Bolt production will cease at the end of the year, Barra said. While the Bolt and Bolt EUV account for most of GM’s EV sales, the small crossovers use the older BEV2 platform and battery chemistry that is being replaced across the board by GM’s Ultium vehicle and battery platform. GM will make about 70,000 Bolts this year before production ends. GM started selling the Bolt in 2016.

Barra says the workforce at the Orion plant will triple for the capacity needed to make the 2024 Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV. The electric pickups are also made at Factory Zero in Hamtramck, Michigan, with the first deliveries to about 340 fleet customers in June.

More GM EVs Launching

Other timelines include the launch of the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV this summer, followed by the 2024 Equinox EV in the fall with a $30,000 starting price. The GMC Hummer SUV is now in production, starting with the First Edition, fully loaded model.

In its slow ramp up, GM built about 2,000 Cadillac Lyriq midsize electric SUVs in the quarter. It is the first vehicle with Ultifi, GM’s new Linux-based software platform that allows for frequent updates.

The CAMI plant in Ontario has now built 500 BrightDrop Zevo 600 electric commercial vans and will be adding the smaller Zevo 400 deliver vans later this year.
Cruise, which operates autonomous vehicles, has doubled its fleet size in the last quarter and now has 242 AVs operating continuously with more than 1,000 trips with passengers every day, says CEO Kyle Vogt. Cruise is now offering driverless rides across all of San Francisco, 24 hours a day and the Cruise Origin driverless vehicle will be testing soon in Austin. Overall, Cruise is inching towards reaching profitability, Vogt says. “It is a milestone year for Cruise,” Barra says.

GM’s Fourth Battery Cell Plant

GM announced a new agreement with Samsung SDI to build prismatic battery cells at a plant whose location is still being determined. Capacity will exceed 30 gigawatt hours with construction slated to begin in early 2026.

This would be the fourth battery plant for GM which has three Ultium Cells LLC joint ventures with LG Energy Solution. Production continues to ramp up at the Ultium Cells plant in Warren, Ohio, which should reach full capacity at the end of the year. Two more plants are under construction in Spring Hill, Tennessee, which will start production at year end, and in Michigan which should be ready to launch in 2024. GM and LG cancelled plans for a fourth plant in the U.S.

Adding Samsung SDI as a battery partner helps GM diversify its supply chain to meet aggressive EV targets, giving it 160 gigawatts of capacity in total. The automaker wants enough North America capacity to build 1 million EVs a year by 2025.

ICE Not Being Ignored

Not ignoring internal combustion engine side of the business which is flourishing. Barra says more than half of all orders for Chevrolet Silverado heavy-duty trucks and a third of GMC Sierra HD pickups are the most-profitable top trims. For the midsize Chevrolet Colorado, 60 percent of orders in the first quarter of the year have been for the top trim levels and it jumps to 75 percent for the GMC Canyon. Demand is proving strong for the new GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate top trim that was introduced for the 2022 model year.

Barra says while GM is doing well at high end, it is equally focused on offering a lineup of affordable vehicles, flooding a corner of the market that other automakers are abandoning. GM will offer four new crossovers for less than $30,000: the Chevrolet Trax and Trailblazer, and the 2024 Buick Envista and 2024 Encore GX. The new Trax is launching in South Korea with more than 13,000 orders in the first week of production.

GM is reducing complexity—the Trax only has one powertrain—and the automaker is reducing screen complexity across the lineup by 60 percent. It is a tactic that will be applied across the EV portfolio, as well.

GM First-Quarter Earnings

GM reported net income of $2.4 billion which was a drop of 19 percent from a year ago, largely because of $900 million in payments to about 500 employees who took voluntary buyouts and $99 million to Buick dealers giving up their franchise as the company continued to work to cut $2 billion in structural cost over the next two years. The automaker did increase revenue by 11 percent to $39.99 billion in the first three months of the year. It meant adjusted earnings were down 6 percent to $3.8 billion. The automaker said it is raising its full-year guidance, now expecting adjusted earnings for the year to be in the $11 billion to $13 billion range, which is up by $500 million.

Barra says the situation in China remains tough. The market is operating at only 50 percent capacity with 100 companies competing for sales. But GM still sees potential in the world’s largest market and Barra says they are launching the right EVs to be successful. She says 2024 and 2025 will be key years as more Ultium-based vehicles hit showrooms.

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