General Motors to invest nearly $800M to build Canadian EV manufacturing plant

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General Motors headquarters

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U.S. automaker General Motors is making a big investment toward electrification.

The automaker recently announced plans to invest nearly $800 million to build what it referred to as “Canada’s first large-scale commercial electric vehicle plant.”

Drive toward electrification

Much has been made of Tesla’s head start in the race toward electrification. In short, traditional automakers like GM have been making investments to catch up.

“Subject to ratification of a tentative 2021 agreement reached with Unifor and confirmation of government support, General Motors plans to bring production of its recently announced BrightDrop electric light commercial vehicle, the EV600, to its CAMI manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, Ontario,” GM said in its announcement this month.

“The nearly $800 million (1 billion Canadian dollar) investment will support GM’s timing to deliver BrightDrop EV600 in late 2021. The investment will enable GM to convert CAMI into Canada’s first large-scale electric delivery vehicles manufacturing plant.”

The BrightDrop vehicles are geared toward commercial customers. Furthermore, the vehicles will offer an “ecosystem of connected and electrified products and services designed to improve the delivery of goods and services from the first to last mile,” GM says.

“It aims to help B2B customers reduce cost of ownership, improve productivity and safety, and improve their carbon footprints and sustainability efforts,” GM added.

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Previous investments

Last year, GM announced plans to invest $2.2 billion to make its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly its first plant devoted 100% to EV manufacturing.

Meanwhile, in other Canadian investments, GM in November 2020 announced plans to invest $1.3 billion to reopen its Oshawa Assembly plant.

Electrification of GM, Ford’s lineups

GM, like other legacy automakers, is trying to catch up with Tesla in the EV space.

Back in November, GM CEO Mary Barra said the automaker would add 30 all-electric models by mid-decade.

Furthermore, 40% of GM’s U.S. entries would be battery electric vehicles by 2025, the automaker said.

“Climate change is real, and we want to be part of the solution by putting everyone in an electric vehicle,” said Barra.

Meanwhile, fellow Detroit automaker Ford Motor Co. has made its own steps toward electrification.

In 2019, Ford unveiled the first update to the Mustang in over 50 years with the all-electric Ford Mach-E.

Driving slowly

While some automakers are further along than others, the electric vehicle market remains a relatively small portion of total sales.

Of course, with that said, sales have grown significantly in recent years.

U.S. sales of electric vehicles reached just 10,100 units in 2011, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Meanwhile, EV sales reached 242,000 units in 2019.

In addition, sales of hybrid electric models reached 400,700 vehicles in 2019. Hybrid electric sales, however, reached 266,500 units in 2011.

In short, the electrification of the automotive sector also means higher demand for metals like copper, nickel and lithium.

In that vein, the global copper market posted an apparent deficit of 480,000 tonnes through the first 10 months of 2020, according to the International Copper Study Group.

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