GM is renaming its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, with the future home of its all-electric vehicle production now known as Factory ZERO. The new name – which suggests someone at General Motors may have seen a few too many superhero films – was confirmed today and is a nod to not just the zero-emission GM Ultium-based electric vehicles.
According to GM, this is also a reflection of Factory ZERO’s role in not causing crashes and congestion. Seems a little harder to get there, it seems fair to predict, although General Motors divisions like Cruise hope that fully autonomous vehicles will help on at least that front.
The Cruise Origin, an electric vehicle specially developed for driverless operation without a steering wheel or other traditional controls, will be one of the first vehicles to be produced by GM at the ZERO plant. The other notable is the GMC Hummer EV, an all-electric pickup that reboots the Hummer name with a completely different drivetrain than the original. GMC plans to officially launch the Hummer EV later this month, though production isn’t expected to begin until late 2021.
While Factory ZERO may have a new name on the sign, there is still work to be done before cars can be made. GM is currently injecting $ 2.2 billion into the facility and upgrading the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center from the former home of models like the Cadillac CT6 and the Chevrolet Impala. Electrification is no stranger either, as it was responsible for GM’s Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrids.
However, the platform will be very different for the Hummer EV, Cruise Origin, and upcoming EVs like the Cadillac Lyriq. They will use GM’s new Ultium architecture, a battery and platform combination that gives the automaker previously impossible flexibility in terms of vehicle size, shape, powertrain and range. Ultium will also allow GM to expand beyond its own nameplates, with Honda having already confirmed it will use the technology for its own electric vehicles.
As for Factory ZERO itself, GM has numerous options to reduce the environmental impact of the facility. On top of the carport there is a 516-kilowatt solar array that provides power and a second row of panels that provide an additional 30 kilowatts. GM plans to fully utilize renewable energy there by 2023.
There will be rainwater treatment that will hold water for the cooling towers and fire extinguishing system, plus 16.5 hectares of wildlife habitat. During the remodeling and modernization, waste concrete from the old facility was used to build temporary roads, GM says. When it is open, it is expected to create more than 2,200 jobs in the US.
It’s fair to say that General Motors hasn’t been the most agile automaker when it comes to electric vehicles. Although it has experimented with PHEVs like Volt and ELR, it currently only has a single all-electric model – the Chevrolet Bolt EV – in the books. As the Cadillac Lyriq anticipated, Ultium certainly has a promise. However, we still have to wait some time to see what Factory ZERO can actually deliver in the real world.