Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy


Automakers Are Quietly Slowing Down Their Plans for Electric Pickups

Did American car companies misread what EV buyers want?

The GM Orion assembly plant.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

General Motors is pushing back plans to convert its Orion assembly plant in Lake Orion, Michigan. Instead of completing its transition from producing electric cars to electric pickup trucks by 2024, the updated factory won’t be ready till late 2025. In a statement, a spokesperson for GM told me the delay was “to better manage capital investment while aligning with evolving EV demand.”

It’s another indication that there’s a mismatch between the types of electric vehicles that Americans want to buy and the types of EVs — or, really, electric trucks — that American automakers, with ample encouragement and subsidies, want to produce.

Early last year, General Motors announced that it would invest $4 billion into the plant, which was being used for the production of the soon-to-be cancelled-but-much-loved Chevy Bolt, the electric sedan. But earlier this year, GM clarified that it was going to halt Bolt construction as part of its transition to selling electric trucks. The company said it planned to have capacity to build some 600,000 trucks annually once the Orion plant was retooled for truck production. The plant currently employs over 1,200 workers, and the company’s chief executive said on an earnings call in April that eventually employment would triple as the plant reached its full potential to churn out electric Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras.

“We’ll need this capacity because our trucks more than measure up to our customers’ expectation, and we’ll demonstrate that work and EV range are not mutually exclusive terms for Chevrolet and GMC trucks. So stay tuned,” Barra said on the April earnings call.

But as Kevin Williams has detailed for Heatmap, American EV buyers might not be that interested in electric trucks — and that lack of enthusiasm seems to finally be showing up on factory floors. Yahoo Finance reported Monday that Ford was cutting a shift at the assembly plant that produces the F-150 Lightning, the electric version of its top-selling vehicle, which has seen falling demand recently.

The shutting down of Bolt production at the end of the year and the delay of truck production until late 2025 could leave workers in the lurch, but the GM spokesperson told me the move is unrelated to the ongoing strike by United Auto Workers and that Orion workers will be offered other opportunities in Michigan.

Matthew Zeitlin profile image

Matthew Zeitlin

Matthew is a correspondent at Heatmap. Previously he was an economics reporter at Grid, where he covered macroeconomics and energy, and a business reporter at BuzzFeed News, where he covered finance. He has written for The New York Times, the Guardian, Barron's, and New York Magazine.

Beryl making landfall in Texas.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Hurricane Beryl, ahem, barreled into America’s Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm, and whenever something like that happens the entire global energy industry holds its breath. The Gulf of Mexico is not just a frequent target and breeding ground for massive storms, it is also one of America’s — and the world’s — most important energy hubs. Texas and Louisiana contains giant oil and gas fields, and the region is home to about half of the United States’ refining capacity.

At least so far, the oil and refining industry appears to have largely dodged Beryl’s worst effects. The storm made landfall in Matagorda, a coastal town between Galveston and Corpus Christi, both of which are major centers for the refinery industry. Only one refinery, the Phillips 66 facility in Sweeny, Texas, was in the storm’s cone, according to TACenergy, a petroleum products distributor. Phillips 66 did not respond to a request to comment, but Reuters reported that the Sweeny facility as well as its refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana were powered and operating. Crude oil prices have seen next to no obvious volatility, rising to $83.88 a barrel on July 3 and since settling around $82.84.

Keep reading...Show less

Climate Scored Some Quasi-Victories in Europe

What parliamentary elections in France and the U.K. mean for everyone else.

A voter and wind turbines.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

While America has been distracted by its suddenly-very-real upcoming election, two other important political stories have been unfolding across the pond. The results of last week’s parliamentary votes in France and the United Kingdom have the power to sway global climate policy — and they might even contain lessons for the U.S. about the rise (or fall) of the far-right.

What happened in France?

In June, French President Emmanuel Macron called snap elections, and the far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen was widely expected to achieve a majority in the country’s 577-seat National Assembly. Instead, the New Popular Front, a hastily-formed alliance between the hard left, Greens, and Socialists, came out on top in a runoff, followed by the centrist Ensemble (which includes Macron’s Renaissance party) and the National Rally in a distant third. Because no party won the 289 seats needed to gain control of the chamber, the left and center now have to form a coalition government, which means ideological compromise — something that’s distinctly un-French. “We're not the Germans, we're not the Spanish, we're not the Italians — we don't do coalitions,” one French political commentator toldSky News.

Keep reading...Show less
President Biden.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

In an altogether distressing debate in which climate was far from a main focus, the two candidates did have one notable exchange regarding the Paris Agreement. The 2015 treaty united most countries around the world in setting a goal to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, with 1.5 degrees as the ultimate target.

After Trump initially dodged a question about whether he would take action to slow the climate crisis, he then briefly noted “I want absolutely immaculate clean water and I want absolutely clean air. And we had it. We had H2O.”

Keep reading...Show less