General Motors intends to delay the start of production of some of its all-electric pickups at the Orion Assembly plant in Michigan.
The factory currently makes the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV electric cars, which later this year will be discontinued. The plant was set for retooling to handle Ultium-based pickups and scheduled to return online in the first quarter of 2025, so after about a year.
However, Automotive News reports that a General Motors spokesperson said on Tuesday that the start of Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV production at the site will be postponed until late 2025. It means almost two years of zero production.
The company explains that the decision is not related to the ongoing UAW strike, but instead linked to a few other reasons, like "electric vehicle demand...the need for engineering upgrades" to boost profitability of the vehicles and "to better manage capital investment while aligning with evolving EV demand."
The combination of the mentioned reasons suggests to us that the demand is expected to be too low at the current prices/production costs. To increase the volume and justify the investment in the factory, prices must be lower, which leads to the necessity of cost cuts, This will require engineering improvements (and time). At least, that's a possibility of what is happening.
General Motors already produce all-electric pickups - the GMC Hummer EV Pickup (and SUV) and the Chevrolet Silverado EV at its Factory Zero in Detroit. The first 18 Silverado EVs (WT version for fleets) recently appeared in the sales stats for the third quarter. We will see how well the production progresses because so far it has been pretty low (less than 1,200 units sold in a quarter).
As we understand, over the next two years, GM's electric pickup production will rely on this particular factory. In 2024, it is expected to start production of the GMC Sierra EV and add a second shift.
Meanwhile, about 1,000 employees at Orion Assembly (Bolt EV/Bolt EUV) will have an opportunity to join other GM plants in the state.