GM-BG

The General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant on Nov. 26, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Anthony Lanzilote.

General Motors affirmed plans to build electric pickups and SUVs at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant and scheduled the start of production for late next year.

Output of electric Cruise Origin driverless vehicles will follow soon after the initial pickups roll off the line, GM said in a statement Monday. The automaker committed to investing $2.2 billion in the factory as part of the labor agreement reached last year with the United Auto Workers union.

GM’s investment — which will include an additional $800 million on supplier tooling and projects related to the trucks — saves a factory that was marked for closure over a year ago. Detroit-Hamtramck will become GM’s second plant in Michigan making plug-in models as Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra bets on demand for electric vehicles that only Tesla Inc. has sold in significant volume thus far.

“It’s not if, it’s when,” GM President Mark Reuss said of EVs catching on with consumers. “Nothing happens by turning on a light switch, making vehicles and seeing consumers adopt them. But the turning point is now and we have to plan for adoption.”

Once fully operational, the Detroit-Hamtramck plant will employ 2,200 workers, according to GM. The automaker plans to build a family of EVs at the factory, including a Hummer truck that will be sold by GMC dealers, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. The company also will assemble a family of electric crossovers and cars at its Orion plant north of Detroit.

For the 800 union members working at Detroit-Hamtramck, the investment is a sigh of relief, said Mike Plater, chairman of UAW Local 22, which represents employees at the plant.

“They were very serious about closing it,” Plater said of GM. “It was difficult getting this investment.”