GM boosts spending on electric vehicles, to add two new U.S. battery plants


FILE PHOTO: The new GM logo is seen on the facade of the General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook//File Photo

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co on Wednesday boosted its spending on electric and autonomous vehicles, pulled ahead plans for two U.S. battery plants and forecast stronger-than-expected second-quarter profits.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker said it will now spend $35 billion through 2025 on EVs, an increase of 75% from March 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the industry.

"EV adoption is increasing and reaching an inflection point," GM Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson told reporters on a conference call. "We want to be ready to be able to produce the capacity that we need to meet demand over time."

GM previously said it would introduce 30 new EVs globally by 2025, and on Wednesday it said that number will now rise with the higher spending, including additional electric commercial trucks. It also said additional U.S. plant capacity would be used to build electric SUVs. Specifics of the new vehicle numbers and SUV plants involved were not detailed.

As part of the spending, GM said it will build two additional U.S. battery plants by mid-decade, joining plants in northeast Ohio and Spring Hill, Tennessee. GM said details on where those plants will be built will be announced later, but those plants will account for more than half of the latest $8 billion increase in spending.

This marks the second time the Detroit carmaker has increased its EV budget since outlining its goals early last year. In November, the budget increased to $27 billion from $20 billion.

Reuters reported the increased spending plans on Tuesday.

GMT's announcement comes less than a month after rival Ford Motor Co upped its EV spending by more than a third to over $30 billion by 2030.

While automakers are pouring investment into new electric vehicles in a wide range of segments, sales of electric vehicles remain small relative to the overall global vehicle market, and particularly in the United States. Electric vehicle investments are “well ahead of natural sales demand and neutral total cost of ownership or industry profitability,” consulting firm AlixPartners cautioned in its annual outlook on the global auto industry released on Wednesday.

In January, GM set a goal to sell all its new cars, SUVs and light pickup trucks with zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, a dramatic shift away from gasoline and diesel engines.

GM also said it now expects to report better-than-expected results in the second quarter despite the impact of the global chip shortage. It now expects first-half operating earnings will be between $8.5 billion and $9.5 billion due to strong GM Financial results and improved vehicle production as it pulls forward chip supplies from the third quarter. GM previously said it would significantly beat its previous forecast for a first-half profit of $5.5 billion.

GM further said it will launch a third generation of its Hydrotec hydrogen fuel-cell systems with greater power density and lower costs by mid-decade.

Reuters also reported GM Chief Executive Mary Barra is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with key U.S. lawmakers to discuss EVs and vehicle emissions.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Additional reporting by Joseph White; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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