Electric pickup, batteries included in GM's $7 billion pledge

DETROIT (Reuters) - An all-electric pickup truck and an advanced battery system will be part of the $7 billion that General Motors Co has pledged to invest in the United States as parts of contract talks with the United Auto Workers.

FILE PHOTO: A 2019 Chevrolet Bolt plug-in electric vehicle is displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

The automaker and the union were continuing talks late on Monday to resolve a strike by 48,000 hourly workers that shut down GM’s highly profitable U.S. operations.

GM said on Saturday it would make investments in eight facilities in four states, but did not specify timing, location or products other than the electric pickup and a battery cell plant.

GM plans to invest both in advanced propulsion systems for electric vehicles and in core products such as trucks and utility vehicles that generate much of its profit, the company said on Monday.

Some of that investment is earmarked for the production of electric vehicles in Michigan and battery cells in Ohio, sources said.

GM also is expected to update plants in Michigan, Tennessee and Missouri to build redesigned versions of its midsize pickups and crossovers, according to a GM source. The company said it will invest in “additional new vehicle and propulsion programs,” but said nothing about opening new plants.

“With as much excess capacity as GM still has, the company won’t be opening any new plants for the foreseeable future,” said AutoForecast Solutions Vice President Sam Fiorani.

GM has said it plans to introduce a stable of electric vehicles by 2023, but has not provided details. Sources have said those vehicles will feature an advanced battery system and a new vehicle structure that is flexible and modular, to accommodate different vehicle types and sizes.

Over the past three years, GM has spent an average $8.45 billion a year on capital expenditures. Most of that investment was made in North America, another GM source said.

The $7 billion investment pledged to the UAW works out to less than $2 billion a year over the four-year life of the proposed contract.

Reuters last week disclosed that GM plans to introduce a full-size electric pickup in 2022, citing officials familiar with the company’s plans.

On Monday, a person familiar with GM’s offer to the UAW said the company could produce the electric truck at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant that now has no future assignment.

GM could also build an electric vehicle battery plant near its shuttered assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis