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General Motors: How Our Electrification Journey Impacts Your Community

October 27, 2021
In a webinar, hosted by Gerald Johnson, executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Sustainability for General Motors Co., the company previewed their growth strategy, discussed the future of their workforce, and outlined how an all-electric vehicle future will benefit manufacturing communities, like Detroit.

GM’s commitment to focus on electrification and transform their growth strategy began by engaging with investors and evaluating long-term trends in mobility. New 10-year goals have been put in place that encompass a forward-looking approach to technology and autonomous vehicles strategy.

Critical to this transformation and GM’s goals is bringing the employees and the community along with the company as it grows, especially as they work to adapt from engines to battery packs, transmissions to drive units, and converting assembly plants over to electric vehicle plants.

“Our full intent is to be completely inclusive in how we make our EV transformation as well as to make sure that our employees are a critical element of this strategy in what I call a competitive advantage for us,” said Johnson. “I’m excited about what it means for all of our people, all of our employees, and all of our communities.”

Training the Current and Next-Generation Workforce

As the company acts on their growth strategy, begins transforming assembly lines, and introduces new products, a fair amount of training will be put in place for current team members and leaders. In addition, it will be vital to bring skilled trades to the workforce as new technology and automation is added to facilities.

Noted Johnson, “We have 1.4 million years of vehicle assembly compulsion systems launch expertise amongst our employee base and that’s an advantage in it of itself…we are building on a million years of experience to tailor it for the next assignment or product program.”

Converting, Not Building New

As GM transitions to all EV future, the company plans to leverage the assets they currently have and focus on converting facilities, not building new. Whether ICE or EV, in an assembly plant 80% of the work remains the same, allowing GM to utilize the infrastructure that is already in place.

Even as the company transitions and transforms, GM will continue to be a hub for manufacturing and diverse job opportunities. The current timeline is to refurbish plant-by-plant as the company adds new EV products to its portfolio.

“We have made an aspiration and commitment that we will be 100% EV or lit-EV by 2035. That’s a lot of transformation that will take place over the next decade,” noted Johnson.

Sustainability and the Community Connection

One of GM’s primary mission statements is committing to a future of “zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” and working to become 100% EV helps accomplish that. To further that mission, GM is also committing to transitioning to using all renewable energy by 2025.

Adds Johnson, “We will be generating electricity from renewable sources and basically taking our carbon footprint to zero in our sites and in our locations. That’s good for the community, that’s good for the planet.”

Impact on Employees and the Talent Pipeline

In addition to environmental commitments, GM is committed to continuing its work inside of the communities. Work sites within the community will be carbon neutral, benefiting the communities and the planet overall. With those updated and new work sites will come an influx of jobs.

“Because we are putting on new capacities, we will also be adding jobs,” said Johnson. “All job opportunities here in the U.S., here in the communities that we have done business in for years.”

Johnson noted the role the U.S. educational system in developing the labor and talent pipeline to fill these added jobs, as the future of automotive becomes more reliant on technical skillsets.

“This is really about taking all of our stakeholders into a future of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion. We will and we can do this as we have for over a hundred years, in partnership with our communities, in partnership with our employees, and in partnership with our future employees,” said Johnson.