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Will GM be saved by ZERO? Commitments to an all-electric future

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Can one of the Detroit 3 really make a go at an all-electric future? Especially when that automaker gets its life’s blood from V-8-loving vehicles like the Corvette and Silverado?

Well, General Motors is certainly giving it the good ole college try.

Last week, GM announced the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant will now be called Factory ZERO, focusing solely on building electric vehicles. This is a nod to GM’s commitment to a zero-crashes, zero-emissions, zero-congestion future. It will also be the home of future production of the all-electric GMC Hummer, which is slated to be revealed tonight.

Building on this announcement, GM revealed today that the Spring Hill, Tennessee, assembly plant will also start transitioning to build EVs – namely the new Cadillac LYRIQ – along with the gasoline-powered Cadillac SUVs.

This is in addition to Orion Assembly, which already builds the Chevrolet Bolt EV. It’ll add a yet-to-be-named-but-we-can-assume-SUV Chevrolet in the (near?) future.

This is an interesting juxtaposition, however, to the parallel investments GM is making to five additional plants for future SUVs and crossovers.

“We are committed to investing in the U.S., our employees and our communities,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “These investments underscore the success of our vehicles today, and our vision of an all-electric future.”

So, SUVs and crossovers now, all-electric SUVs and crossovers later?

Whatever the outcome or intention, the fact is: GM is investing in its future. In fact, it’s invested $29 billion since 2009, and $4.5 billion will be spent to pave the way for EVs.

The bottom line on an all-electric future

The electric revolution has been a lot slower than people anticipated. But when there is an all-electric Ford Mustang and F-150 EV on the horizon, new 4xe electrified badging at Jeep and a Tesla pickup truck looming, GM has to start getting its shit together.

Yes, SUVs, crossovers and trucks are the money makers in today’s world, but with conversations continuing about banning or limiting the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles (cough, California) in the next couple decades, electrification of those vehicles is on the immediate horizon.

While LYRIQ is a taste of what that all-electric future could be, it’s coming from Cadillac, one of GM’s teetering brands. The clearer picture of that future will be on display tonight, with a very successful GM brand launching a remake of an iconic vehicle.

So, grab your popcorn, and get ready for the show.

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is a syndicated automotive writer. Jill also manages the “Drive, She Said” blog for ChicagoNow and posts reviews to DriveChicago. She is the president emeritus of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. She also serves as a judge for the Automotive Heritage Foundation Journalism Awards. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Chicago Sun-Times News Group and Pioneer Press Newspapers.

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