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GM to Invest $300M in Michigan Plant for EVs and Autonomous Vehicles: Report

The automaker is reportedly working on another electric vehicle based on the popular Bolt EV.

As General Motors winds down production at multiple North American factories as part of a massive cost-cutting scheme, Reuters reports that the automaker is preparing to invest $300 million in a Michigan factory for the production of electric cars and self-driving cars.

The report, which cites two anonymous sources familiar with the matter, claims GM is preparing to launch a new compact Chevrolet electric car based on the same platform as the current Bolt EV. The car was reportedly slated for a Chinese factory, but will now be built at the same Orion Township, Michigan, plant that builds the Bolt EV.

Orion also builds autonomous Bolt EV test vehicles for GM’s Cruise division, which is expected to continue. GM previously said it would invest $100 million in the factory to support larger-scale production of autonomous Bolt EV test cars for Cruise, which is working to launch a business based around self-driving cars. GM has hinted a ride-hailing service similar to the one operated by Waymo in Arizona, and also recently struck a deal with DoorDash to use Cruise autonomous cars as delivery vehicles.

The Orion Township factory is also slated to build a new generation of electric cars based on a new platform called BEV3, but not until 2023, a third source told Reuters. GM previously said it would launch 20 new electric models by that time. Autonomous versions based on these models may also be built on the same assembly line, just as Orion currently does with the Bolt EV and Cruise vehicles. This ramp-up of electric and self-driving car production may be funded by cuts in other areas.

In November 2018, GM announced that it would close five North American factories (three in the United States, one in Canada), eliminate poor-selling models from its lineup, and cut staff. At the time, the automaker said this would help fund emerging technologies, such as electric powertrains and autonomous-driving systems. One of the factories—the Hamtramck facility in suburban Detroit—subsequently received a stay of execution. It will continue to build the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 until January 2020.

Meanwhile, GM rival Ford confirmed this week that it will build its upcoming electric crossover at a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, but that production will be shared with a factory in Cuautitlan, Mexico.