after being close to bankruptcy, where is the group going?

After being close to outright bankruptcy, General Motors has been on a long diet. The American giant seems to be regaining form and thus the road to Europe. With a completely new industrial logic…

If you like slides, you’d better go to the plains. In Detroit, Michigan. On the shores of Lake St. Clair, General Motors based its headquarters there in 1923.

The company, which dominated the automotive world until the early 2000s, has been close to bankruptcy several times, regularly rescued by the US administration.

At the head of the group, Mary Barra, a strong woman, did not go overboard when it came to saving the “Titanic”. Factory closings, job cuts and even fire sales. Pontiac, Saturn, Oldsmobile then Saab and Holden disappear, while Opel is sold to the PSA group (which later becomes Stellantis).

Of the fourteen brands that made up the General Motors galaxy, only four remain: Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick. Group sales plunge as the debt melts, but the results are no longer impressive.

General Motors is no longer the symbol of a successful America. Today, the Detroit giant ranks sixth worldwide behind Toyota, Volkswagen, Renault-Nissan, Hyundai-Kia and Stellantis.

In the Detroit Research & Development Center, at the end of the summer of 2022, the leaders of General Motors still wear a confident smile before showing the facilities, and especially the test center for the new Ultium battery.

Because General Motors has promised to become a 100% electric manufacturer by the beginning of 2035 and to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2040.

New industrial processes

Quite a challenge for a manufacturer that sells mainly V8-powered pick-ups and wants to reform a fleet that is more than ten years old now. One thing seems certain, this is not an announcement to please any administration.

The investments, estimated at 35 million dollars, should enable the various brands of General Motors to become mobility providers. So GM is investing in the network in the US by associating all dealers (concessions) to collect the charging points.

On the car side, it’s a blast. After the Chevrolet Bolt, Cadillac Lyriq (see L’AJ No. 1115) and GMC Hummer (see test p. 87), GM plans to launch a Silverado EV pick-up and an all-new 100% electric Blazer. This acceleration is achievable thanks to the new Ultium platform, which integrates a modular battery of the same name.

This allows cells and modules to be placed in different positions to achieve the best possible “packaging”. A find developed with the help of the manufacturer LG Chemical and which allows the manufacturer to offer packages with 6, 8, 10, 12 and even 24 modules (in two floors, as on the Hummer).

What restores ambitions of global hegemony to General Motors. Admittedly, the Detroit giant is aware that it will never regain the sales volumes it experienced in the last century, but the flexibility of the industrialization of 100% electric models allows it to consider returning to new markets.

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Return to Europe planned

Europe in the first place, one of the most advanced continents in terms of electrification. General Motors certainly sees it as a source of profit, but also an opportunity to verify that no one here has forgotten about Cadillac or Chevrolet. Furthermore, the group is very discreet about the makes and models that will be able to cross the Atlantic. Chevrolet Bolt or Blazer, a future Cadillac or Buick?

To Mahmoud Samara, president and CEO of GM Europe, who promises an announcement by next spring: “The period is very exciting for us because we feel that everything is open and we have the entire General Motors portfolio at our disposal.”

Everything seems to be carefully prepared. General Motors has already confirmed its presence at the next 24 Hours of Le Mans with the gorgeous GTP Hypercar, straight out of Gotham City. In the US, the adventure has already begun.

With the EVgo network, General Motors intends to gather the territory at high speed to cover the almost 3000 miles that separate New York from Los Angeles without much difficulty. A new gold rush?

Find our report dedicated to General Motors in Auto-Journal No. 1117 of 22.09.2022.

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