GM, Ford, former-Chrysler jumping into electrics
After what many thought was a very slow start, all three domestic automakers are jumping into electric vehicles in a big way, with plans to open major battery plants and phase in a total switch from gasoline power. Both GM and Stellantis (the current owner of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Mopar) have assured the availability of large amounts of lithium, mined entirely (in GM’s case) or partly (Stellantis) in the United States, in relatively safe ways.
Ford has partnered with electric-car mavens Rivian, which likely jump-started the successful Mustang EV and is very likely to result in the electric F-150. Stellantis has numerous joint ventures providing access to battery and motor technologies, but is planning a full range of completely new platforms; today it announced three new families of electric propulsion systems. GM has worked on electric cars for the longest time and has devoted the most resources to the effort over time, resulting in the Volt, Bolt, and, next, the Hummer EV. While the Bolt was often dismissed in favor of the flashier Tesla, Bolts were sold at their promised price while Teslas sold for about $10,000 more. Tesla has had many quality issues, while GM’s electrics appear to have been fairly trouble-free.
GM has at least one battery plant under way and one dedicated BEV plant; Stellantis has promised several battery plants using three chemistries between now and 2026. (More on Stellantis’ plans over at Stellpower.) The GM “Ultium” battery system seems to be the result of a great deal of research and investment, and resulted in a Hummer with extremely impressive specs. Supercars, it seems, will be electric in the future, 797-horsepower Dodges notwithstanding.
With the “majors” fully in the game, and even Toyota slowly picking up its slack in the hydrogen-and-battery EV world, it’s starting to look less rosy for individual niche automakers. While there will always be a place for the Bollingers of the world, Volkswagen making electric Bugattis does not help smaller automakers like Faraday Future and Lucid.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, and lives in Farmingdale, New York.