There is plenty of electrification news this week, despite the brunt of consumers remaining seemingly disinterested in the automotive segment that’s entirely dependent upon batteries. General Motors recently announced that it would be increasing its EV investments through 2025 to $35 billion, noting that some amount of the funding will also be going toward autonomous vehicle development.
Meanwhile, Stellantis confirmed that it’s planning a quartet of battery-driven automobiles offering more utility than the pint-sized Fiat 500e. Those vehicles aren’t supposed to see assembly until 2024 and there are lingering questions about where the firm plans on building battery plants. But the UILM union has confirmed that the upcoming models are likely to be midsized and built at the company’s Melfi plant in Italy.
“Stellantis announced that Melfi would be the first plant in Italy to get new models, based on post-2022 business plan,” the union said in a statement after reps with the manufacturer in Rome.
According to Reuters, all future production at Melfi will be based on a single upgraded production line. Despite merging lines, the site is supposed to retain its annual production capacity of 400,000 units — though things can always change when decisions don’t need to be made right away.
UILM’s head, Rocco Palombella, said unions had not received all the answers they wanted as Stellantis was still working on its new business plan.
“But the positive element is that the company has not absolutely called for structural redundancies,” he said after the meeting.
Stellantis Chief Executive Carlos Tavares has said the group would present its business plan late this year or in early 2022.
The automaker has also reportedly not made any concrete decisions on where its third battery plant will be built. Existing sites have already been planned for France and Germany, with the manufacturer musing about whether to keep the third in Europe or opt for the United States.
Speaking of the US of A, General Motors has announced it will be increasing its initial commitment (announced in 2020) toward battery and autonomous development by around 75 percent.
“We are investing aggressively in a comprehensive and highly-integrated plan to make sure that GM leads in all aspects of the transformation to a more sustainable future,” stated GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra. “GM is targeting annual global EV sales of more than 1 million by 2025, and we are increasing our investment to scale faster because we see momentum building in the United States for electrification, along with customer demand for our product portfolio.”
The General has been signaling that it has wanted to get serious about EVs of late and has recently been petitioning the government to pass legislation giving electrically powered vehicles special treatment. In the release, it made mention that it wants to become a global leader in electrification via its Ultium battery platform. There was also mention of GM’s HYDROTEC fuel cells and the commercialization of its Cruise autonomous driving technology. Much of that was left to our imagination, however.
Every automaker wants to become the dominant name in EVs and AVs. General Motors is not different. But one wonders what might have been had the company not abandoned its EV1 pilot program in 1999.[Image: Michael Urmann/Shutterstock]