Sign In or Create an Account.

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

Sparks

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.

Yellow

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. Read More

Read More
Offshore wind.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Things are looking down again for New York’s embattled offshore wind industry.

The state is abandoning all three of the offshore wind projects it awarded conditional contracts to last October, after failing to secure final agreements with any of the developers, Politico reported Friday.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Sparks

Forever Chemical Enforcement Just Got Even Stronger

In addition to regulating PFAS presence in water, the EPA will now target pollution at the source.

Drinking water and the periodic table.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Last week, I reported on the Environmental Protection Agency’s monumental new restrictions on “forever chemicals” in Americans’ drinking water. At the time, I stressed that the issue doesn’t end with the water that flows out of our kitchen and bathroom taps — the government also has a responsibility to hold polluters accountable at the source.

On Friday, the EPA did just that, designating perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, a.k.a. PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, more commonly known as the Superfund law.

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow
Sparks

Sexier Heat Pumps Are Hitting the Market

The first Quilt units will be available to San Franciscans in just a few weeks.

A Quilt heat pump.
Heatmap Illustration/Quilt

Quilt, a climate tech startup banking on the appeal of sleeker, smarter electric heat pumps, announced today that its products will be available to order in the Bay Area starting May 15.

I first wrote about Quilt a year ago after the company raised a $9 million seed round. Its founders told me they wanted to create the Tesla of heat pumps — a climate-friendly product that prevails because of its superior design and performance, with sustainability as a bonus.

Keep reading...Show less
Green