GM kills the Chevy Volt, shuts down factories, but accelerates EV investment

GM announced today a major restructuring that will involve “doubling” the company’s investment in electric and self-driving cars, but they will pay for it by shutting down factories and laying off thousands of workers.

The company has also confirmed that the Chevy Volt will be discontinued.

Similar to what Ford did earlier this year, GM says that it is moving away from sedans and it is instead focusing on “trucks, crossovers and SUVs.”

They now say that they will prioritize “investments in its next-generation battery-electric architectures”:

“GM now intends to prioritize future vehicle investments in its next-generation battery-electric architectures. As the current vehicle portfolio is optimized, it is expected that more than 75 percent of GM’s global sales volume will come from five vehicle architectures by early next decade.”

CEO Mary Barra said that it would result in doubling the company’s investment in electric vehicles and self-driving technology.

Last year, the company announced several new electric vehicles to launch in the next few years, including 5 crossovers, 2 minivans, 7 SUVs, and more.

The restructuring announced today is coming at a high cost for GM employees.

The company confirmed that they will be laying off almost 15,000 employees and closing down 5 factories (3 assembly plants and 2 powertrain plants):

  • Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
  • Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit.
  • Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio.
  • Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland.
  • Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan.

These plants will stop operation next year and several vehicles that they make, like the Chevrolet Cruze, the Cadillac CT6 and the Buick LaCrosse, will be discontinued.

A GM spokesperson also confirmed to Electrek that Chevy Volt production will be discontinued by March 2019. Past rumors have indicated that a Crossover could replace the Volt, though that was considered to be years out.

Electrek’s Take

It’s a sad day for many families out there. Good jobs are going away.

I appreciate GM increasing its investment in electric vehicles, but what they are announcing today on that front is very vague while the layoffs are very concrete.

I wish that they would have instead invested in converting those plants to electric vehicle production like Volkswagen is doing in Europe.

Though I might have an idea of who could use one or two of those factories and workforce.

I remember a little company called Tesla taking over a shuttered GM plant in California and it turned out OK. More on that later.

As for the Chevy Volt, I liked the 2019 version, but we kind of knew the end was coming. The vehicle had a good run and it certainly helped in the transition to fully electric vehicles. As with the Bolt, Chevy could have done a lot better with the Volt if it had increased its marketing and trained its dealerships better.

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