GM promises to leave no one behind in all-electric future

General Motors says it wants to make sure all of its customers and employees are included in its transition to a fully electric car business.

On Tuesday, GM CEO Mary Barra made several promises to achieve that goal, including announcing the creation of a $ 25 million Climate Equity Fund.

In fairness, this means no one is left behind as GM transforms the business. The idea is that all people have access to electrification regardless of socioeconomic status, race or other circumstances. That means electrification will benefit society, said Jessica James, a spokesperson for GM.

“Climate change does not affect all communities the same,” Barra told the Aspen Ideas festival. “As we move towards a fully electric, zero-emission future, it is up to us to lead positive change and implement inclusive solutions that bring everyone together, especially our employees and communities. “

The new fund will be used to support programs that help the people and communities most likely to be disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change.

“We know that 80% of electric vehicle owners charge at home today,” said Gerald Johnson, executive vice president of GM. But, Johnson said, GM also realizes that a lot of people don’t have a residence where they can charge a vehicle.

Johnson said GM was backing an electric vehicle tax credit incentive that would include used electric cars, “to expand access” to electric vehicles for more consumers.

“We have an imperative to leave the world a better place than where we found it,” Johnson said.

As part of his transition, Johnson also said GM will continue to retool its U.S. and global assembly plants from internal combustion vehicles to electric vehicles, although he did not provide details.

“We will be converting our ICE product sites to electric vehicles,” Johnson said. “We are also going to convert our propulsion plants into batteries” in the years to come.

GM has announced five electric vehicle assembly plants for North America, including the existing Orion Assembly plant, Factory ZERO in Detroit and Hamtramck, Spring Hill Assembly in Tennessee, one in Canada and one in Mexico.

Barra said GM wants consumers to be able to choose an electric vehicle as their only vehicle. Therefore, these consumers need to be sure that if they achieve the range of the vehicle, which for GM is typically 300 miles, there is a charging infrastructure to support them. There must also be affordable options for purchasing electric vehicles.

“When we tick all of these boxes, our research shows that people are very interested in an electric vehicle,” said Barra.

The philanthropic fund complements GM’s $ 35 billion investment in research and development of electric vehicles and self-driving cars by 2025.

Barra said GM is focused on bringing in its current workforce, while helping to create a diverse pipeline of talent, as GM moves closer to a zero-emissions future. GM will add jobs, but James said he does not share the number of new jobs that will be created.

Barra said GM strives to be “the most inclusive company” in the world. It means creating an environment where everyone feels valued, comfortable being themselves and encouraged to do their best. It also means including them in a transition to electric vehicles, Barra said.

“Whether they are an engineer or a teammate working on the assembly line in one of our factories, they need to know that they are part of our future,” said Barra. “It won’t happen overnight – it will happen over time and that time will allow us to retrain employees. Our goal is that, as we make this transition, we bring everyone in.

GM recently created GM Automotive Manufacturing Electrical College, which allows you to retrain to work on electric vehicles. When it comes to the workforce of the future, Barra said, people need to have a technological base. They don’t necessarily have to “be able to code,” but they need to know enough about software and technology to be flexible and move into a variety of jobs, she said.

GM has stated that it aspires to all light vehicles will be zero emissions by 2035.

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, April 16, 2021.

Barra said GM’s focus on “fair climate action” focuses on four areas:

  • The future of work: GM will prioritize its current salaried workforce represented by the UAW in its shift to electric vehicles. GM has publicly reiterated its support for the UAW to organize workers at the Ohio and Tennessee battery cell manufacturing plants Ultium Cells LLC. In May, the UAW told Free Press it was ready to fight GM in the new battery cell factories that GM is building in Ohio and Tennessee though the automaker doesn’t allow a simplified process, called card control, to organize workers there. But days after the Free Press article, GM and its battery cell partner, LG Energy Solution, publicly expressed support for the unions. They also recognized the right of workers to organize in a joint venture called Ultium Cells LLC battery factories. When asked on Tuesday if GM would support a card verification process at battery cell factories, Johnson said, “We support the UAW. We have been partners with the UAW for decades. That is ultimately the decision of the group of employees there, but we fully expect to work with the UAW to move forward in these factories as we do in our propulsion factories across the United States.
  • VE access: GM has announced that it will bring 30 new electric vehicles to market by the middle of the decade, offering customers a wide choice at a price range. The redesigned 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV starts at $ 31,000 and the 2022 GMC Hummer pickup, due out later this year, will start at $ 79,995. GM also announced partnerships that will use its Hydrotec fuel cells for railroad and plane applications, which could improve emissions beyond cars.
  • Infrastructure equity: GM is committed to helping set up widespread charging stations and other solutions to address any charging issues that may hamper EV ownership.
  • Climate equity: GM will help fund organizations that help find solutions to the changes that will result from climate change. GM and these groups will work at the community level examining the future of work, access to electric vehicles, electric vehicle infrastructure and other issues related to climate change.

As of Tuesday, GM is accepting proposals from outside groups for funding for its new Climate Equity Fund. Potential grantees must submit proposals aligned with the GM’s four social climate equity outcomes listed above.

Grant proposals will not go to other electric vehicle companies. Johnson said: “This is for grassroots organizations in communities – targeting awareness, understanding and engagement in climate change and an EV future.”

Barra said GM is working to make mobility safer, more accessible and more environmentally friendly and that it will work with community stakeholders to identify their needs and find solutions.

GM will advocate for inclusive and equitable climate change, renewable energy and transportation policies at federal, state and local levels to ensure a future of sustainable mobility for all, she said. It will help fund organizations that provide equitable access to electric vehicles.

“This means that 20 years from now, as we look back at our business and our $ 35 billion spending to transform the business, we can be proud of how we did it,” said James. “And we’ll know we left no one behind.”

After:UAW ready to fight GM to unionize 2 new battery factories

Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @jlareauan. Read more on General Motors and subscribe to our automotive newsletter. Become a subscriber.

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