GM must "get in the game and start the process of building the environment and conditions for success," Steve Carlisle, the Cadillac chief who will become president of GM North America on Sept. 1, told Automotive News. "Now is the time to really start moving forward on all of that."
Executives acknowledge that widespread adoption of EVs will take years, but the automaker is determined to lead the industry into the EV era. It's developing proprietary batteries through a $2.3 billion joint venture with LG Chem aimed at making EVs cheaper to build and able to drive farther between charges.
GM has said some of its upcoming battery-electric products will be built in Orion Township, Mich., where it makes its only current EV, the Chevrolet Bolt, or Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, which went down in March for at least a year of retooling.
Vehicles expected to join the Bolt in Orion include a utility version of the car and the Cadillac Lyriq, a midsize crossover. Detroit-Hamtramck will build electric trucks, including the GMC Hummer pickup and a Hummer SUV, as well as another pickup and a large SUV.
"GM is expected to continue following the strategy of coupling like-sized vehicles in a single plant that share the same parts bin where it makes sense," said Paul Waatti, an analyst at AutoPacific.
But the two plants are unlikely to have enough space for everything else in GM's plans. So GM will have to look elsewhere.
"The word is getting louder and louder about shifts to Mexico," said Sam Fiorani, vice president of AutoForecast Solutions.
Forecasters said they expect GM to retool its plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, for EV production in 2023. That plant builds the Chevy Blazer and Equinox.
GM also may shift its Chevy Camaro and Cadillac sedan plant in Lansing, Mich., to EVs around 2024. The plant's transition would have to be approved under the next UAW labor contract in 2023. Under the current contract, GM assured UAW members that they will retain the higher-skilled work associated with such technology.
With Cadillac as GM's lead EV brand, the CT4 and CT5 sedans built at the Lansing plant potentially would become battery-powered. Some analysts believe the Camaro also would go electric because it's built alongside the Cadillac sedans, though GM could instead choose to discontinue the Camaro, which is in its sixth consecutive year of declining U.S. sales.
In its 2019 Sustainability Report released this month, GM outlined plans for 12 of its upcoming EVs: the Cadillac Lyriq, Celestiq, a three-row SUV, an Escalade-like SUV and an XT4-like crossover; the GMC Hummer pickup and SUV; the Chevy Bolt utility vehicle, a pickup and a midsize SUV; and a Buick SUV and crossover.