DAVE ROSS

GMs Factory Zero will show ‘electric vehicles are not glorified golf carts’

Nov 18, 2021, 10:23 AM
electric vehicles...
U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant on Nov. 17, 2021, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

As Washington state and others continue to push for more electric vehicles on the road in the coming years, a renewed plant from General Motors in Detroit will help.

Gov. Inslee seeks to move state government to all-electric fleet of vehicles

GM’s “Factory Zero” nearly didn’t exist, but this week it got a visit from President Joe Biden.

“The significance of Factory Zero is its GM’s first plant dedicated to only making electric vehicles,” explained Jeff Gilbert, an automotive reporter who spoke to KIRO Radio this week from Detroit.

Of course, the Biden administration is a big promoter of electric vehicles, Gilbert says, so the president himself came for the grand opening party.

“The building has been there for about 30-40 years. It was called the Detroit/Hamtramck plant — it’s made an abundance of vehicles, most recently big cars,” Gilbert said. “You may remember that name because in 2018, GM said it’s old, we don’t need it anymore, we’re going to close it. Well, after a lot of back and forth with the UAW, city of Detroit officials, they decided instead what they would do is gut it, spend $2 billion, and put in new equipment to make electric vehicles, so that’s what they’ve been doing the last two years.”

The whole lineup of what will be built there has yet to be announced, but the first vehicle to be made there will be a Hummer.

“Now, this isn’t the old Hummer that you remember from about a decade ago. This is a new one,” Gilbert said. “It’s electric. It’s a GMC pickup called the Hummer — 1000 horsepower, over $100,000, … and meant to be kind of a halo vehicle.”

“The mass market vehicle they’re going to make there in another year is an electric version of the Chevy Silverado pickup. They’re going to show us what that looks like at the Consumer Electronics Show in January,” he added.

The battery in the 1000 horsepower Hummer will be heavy — about 3,000 pounds.

“I had a chance to drive one, the vehicle really moves,” Gilbert said. “The 1000 horsepower is for bragging rights. You’re never going to be able to use that on the road. But off road, … that’s going to help you get over rocks, things of that nature.”

“But the reality is this is a vehicle that shows the world that electric vehicles are not glorified golf carts — you can do a lot of cool things with them,” he noted. “So from the Hummer, that technology will get into vehicles that you and I will be able to buy every day, probably a few horsepower less than 1000.”

Gilbert says Factory Zero will create about 2,000 jobs, which includes many people who worked at that same factory before, transferred to other GM plants, and transferred back.

Washington solidifies goal to end sale of new gas-powered cars by 2030

The plant is considered as part of the city of Detroit’s comeback, Gilbert explained.

“Obviously at the ceremony, you’ll see the mayor, the governor, all of those people — they’re taking credit for this because it’s a big civic event,” he said. “The plant has always been in Detroit and it’s been in Detroit for 40 years or so. It’s not a new plant, but they do like the fact that it was saved.”

“And as far as EVs go,” Gilbert says, “it’s the same argument with politicians you get in other areas — there are people who love them and people who are skeptical.”

Hear KIRO Radio host Dave Ross and traffic reporter Chris Sullivan’s questions for Gilbert about the price of these new electric vehicles, the charging process, and the environmental impacts here.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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GMs Factory Zero will show ‘electric vehicles are not glorified golf carts’