Inside Factory Zero, where GM is betting big on electric vehicles - CBS News
Category: News & PoliticsVia: flynavy1 • 2 years ago • 22 comments
On the assembly line at a General Motors plant outside Detroit, Michigan, there are two things autoworkers like Mark Owens will never see again: Gas tanks and internal combustion engines.
"Completely different. I never thought I would see an all-electric vehicle where we didn't have any gas tanks in it," Owens told CBS News' Ben Tracy.
The GM plant makes the Chevy Bolt, the company's only mass-market fully electric vehicle, but that's about to change.
Mark Reuss, president of GM, said electric cars will no longer be a novelty for the rich. GM is now betting big on batteries and is planning to launch 30 new electric vehicles across a wide range of price points in the next five years.
"It's the biggest thing that the industry's seen in a long, long time," he said.
The automaker company is rebuilding their 4.5 million square foot plant in Michigan and calling it Factory Zero, as in zero emissions. The name of the street out front also got changed to Electric Avenue.
CBS News got a look inside Factory Zero, which plant manager Jim Quick said was the factory of the future.
"This body shop, when complete, will be the biggest body shop in all of General Motors," Quick said.
Factory Zero will soon produce an electric version of the once-notorious gas-guzzling Hummer and this summer GM will launch the larger version of the Bolt called a EUV.
In the United States, transportation accounts for almost one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming.
Part of President Biden's infrastructure bill would help people buy greener electric cars, which are more expensive. GM said it plans to stop making gas-powered cars by 2035. In their statement, GM said they aspire to eliminate tailpipe emissions.
"There's a little bit of wiggle room in there. The aspiration to do that is really gonna be based on the consumer and how well we solve some of the problems that people perceive around electric vehicles," Reuss said.
Reuss wants to fight back on the perception that electric vehicles are more expensive than standard cars. Batteries, which make up about 70% of an electric vehicle's cost, are now getting cheaper.
GM is building and testing them in house to further drive down costs. Automakers are also counting on the federal government.
President Biden's infrastructure plan calls for 500,000 new EV charging stations across the country by 2030. Alissa Priddle, an editor for MotorTrend, said automakers will soon offer consumers far more EV options.
"The reason that people don't buy EV's right now is they don't want some funny little pod that doesn't do what they need for their lifestyle or their family," she said.
According to the market analysis group called IHS Markit, out of the 250 million vehicles on American roads, less than 1% are electric.
IHS Markit found that last year EV's accounted for just 2% of all U.S. auto sales. Almost all of those were sold by Tesla, which is now worth more than GM, Ford, and Toyota combined.
The tailpipe is an endangered species because states such as California and Massachusetts and countries including Japan, the U.K., and the entire European Union are soon going to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles to combat climate change.
Ford just announced it will go all-electric in Europe by 2030. It's already selling a battery-powered Mustang in the U.S. and next year, it will electrify the best-selling vehicle in the country — the Ford F-150 pickup truck.
"You really cannot afford, as an automaker, to not have a full portfolio of electrified vehicles in the next five years, or you are going to be left behind," Priddle said.
Electric vehicles make up more than half of all new cars sold in Norway. In recent ads, GM is telling Americans that there is no way Norway should be king of the EV road.
As many automakers make the switch to electric vehicles, Reuss said he expects some of the companies won't survive the transition.
"That desire to win is very deep, and so I would say anybody that is making electric vehicles now or in the future is high motivation for us to win," he said.
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Yep, the future is coming fast, oil companies a better start scrambling like hell to diversify.
My wife and I just ordered a his/hers combo of VWs new all electric vehicle. Should be seeing them this summer. Goodfuckingbye $3+ gas prices.
Going to an electric vehicle is great, but there are a lot of other pieces that have to tie into that decision. What's the average distance an electric car can go? For VW's it's estimated around 250 miles. I like to go up to Vegas when i can, that's a 300 mile one way drive for me. So a single charge won't cut it, and i have no desire to spend hours at a charging station half-way thru the drive. So I would need to hang on to my gas powered car. How many people can really afford two vehicles like this?
Oh we are going to be keeping one gas vehicle just in case we have to drive somewhere several hundred miles away. But frankly the places we like to vacation flying makes more sense to begin with, and with the kids getting away on bigger trips is harder anyways.
It requires a little more planning on the front end, but the commercial charging stations will get you a decent charge in a half hour, which is just fine if you are stopping for lunch. At this point though they are definitely more suited to your daily commute. Regardless the vehicles will get better as will the infrastructure as time goes on. This is all still rather new but I see the changes coming pretty quickly.
And market competition will start driving the prices down sooner rather than later, and when you factor in fuel savings they start to make up the difference pretty quickly.
I can imagine an extender, a second battery in the trunk etc...
We are trying to fly a small helicopter that was recently delivered to Mars.
Extending the distance of EV's seems like it should be a lot easier.
What's the 'right' technology?
We don't yet know which technology will be the winner. That's the point. It's too soon for the government to pick a winner. If the government chooses the wrong technology to support with infrastructure then GM will be stuck trying to compete with the wrong technology.
Government should NEVER pick winners in the private sector.
The Federal government choosing a winner means we are stuck with that winner. And the size of the government's investment could stunt innovation and development of other solutions that may be more practical or provide better results.
Government support for research and development isn't a problem. Government investment in correcting problems with established technology that has matured to the stage of incremental improvement isn't a problem.
It's possible to point to examples of large government investment in aviation and space as providing a benefit. But the example of large government investment in automobiles resulted in killing mass transit and more efficient freight transport isn't positive; we're stuck with a less efficient and more energy intensive mode of transport now. The government choosing the wrong winner has created an almost insoluble problem.
Indeed, government messing with the economy (commerce) is a horrid notion. Government is to focus on securing a civil society (including consumer/environmental protection) and protecting the peace; they should not engage in trying to moderate or control the private sector. An exception to this principle is general leadership. For example, I am not against the government leading an initiative to encourage a move towards electric vehicles. I am, however, against government working the private sector to achieve that in some specific way.
IMO a free competitive market remains the current best way to optimize resources and identify the true (long term viable) winners and losers.
I support the government offering a tax incentive for the purchase of electric vehicles, possibly even subsidies to companies working on building the infrastructure needed to make longer distance travel possible.
Aside from that and your basic vehicle safety requirements, the government needs to back off and let the free market take the wheel. That will drive down costs and increase performance faster than anything.
I am okay with government greasing the tracks to encourage a strategic direction. That would be part of the leadership I referred to. But government needs to be 'big picture' oriented and not try to manage the dynamics of an economy.
Big Oil is the most subsidized industry in the history of the world. Depending on what you put into the price - notably environmental cleanup - the unsubsidized pump price would be something between ten and fifteen dollars per gallon.
Let's let a truly free market do its thing....
Not in this country.
GM has been behind the curve for fifty years. I find it hard to believe anything positive about the company.
Mark it on the calendar we agree on GM.
Part of President Biden's infrastructure bill would help people buy greener electric cars, which are more expensive.
Biden and his tax payer money give away. GM is betting big on big government. We already know they are too damn big to fail; and will be readily bailed out again.
Having to deal with GM on a daily basis delivering parts to several of their facilities I have first hand knowledge of just how backwards and ineptly run they are.
GM is now betting big on batteries and is planning to launch 30 new electric vehicles across a wide range of price points in the next five years. "It's the biggest thing that the industry's seen in a long, long time," he said.
The automaker company is rebuilding their 4.5 million square foot plant in Michigan and calling it Factory Zero, as in zero emissions.
Likes like the world is going to need a lot of battery power.
New abundant reserves of cobalt would lower costs for manufacturing EV batteries, but ocean conservationists are up in arms, appealing to governments and United Nations agencies, including ISA, to halt the march toward ocean mining.
We've polluted the land for oil now we'll turn to the oceans for batteries.
"You really cannot afford, as an automaker, to not have a full portfolio of electrified vehicles in the next five years, or you are going to be left behind,"
And technology marches on....!