EVs face critical week as GM, Ford make moves

Source: By David Ferris, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

This is a big week for electrification in Detroit. Ford Motor Co. unveiled a new electric delivery truck yesterday, the same day that General Motors Co. said it would build thousands of charging plugs for its factory workers. Today, GM will try to persuade skeptical stockholders that electric vehicle investments are worth the money.

Ford said that it will build an electric version of the Transit Connect, its popular delivery van, in the United States for delivery in 2022. It will join other electric cars en route from Ford including the Mustang Mach-E and the F-150. Specs of the new delivery van were not revealed.

And this morning, the company’s leaders will walk investors through a two-hour presentation that for the first time lays out an EV road map for the United States’ largest automaker.

GM has made headlines recently with its EV plans. During the Super Bowl it revealed it would resuscitate the Hummer as an electric vehicle, and it has signaled it will make an electric Cadillac. In January, GM announced that its hometown factory, the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, would undergo a $2 billion retooling to make exclusively electric and autonomous vehicles.

But GM has not yet explained how these changes, along with others, fit into a larger plan.

The investor pitch comes as GM is losing money and with its stock in a decline exacerbated by market fallout from the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

CEO Mary Barra talked up the company’s transformational plans on an earnings call a month ago, but investors were more concerned with $2.6 billion in losses late last year, mostly related to a worker strike that halted production. The company’s stock has since dropped 14%.

GM announced yesterday that it would build 3,500 new charging points for its employees at its factories in the United States and Canada.

“This is another step down the path to making EV ownership easier for everyone, especially for our own employees,” Mark Reuss, GM’s president, said in a news release. “Charging infrastructure is crucial to wider acceptance of EVs. We encourage other companies to do likewise.”

That’s a tripling of the current number of charging plugs. The charging stations will be “Level 2” stations that take up to nine hours to fill a battery from empty — the type well-suited to workplaces, where employees are typically parked all day.

The installations will start in late 2020, GM said.