GM EV profit, scale to expand as Ultium plants open, CFO says

General Motors has accelerated development of its electric vehicles to get them to the market faster. Scaling production to improve EV profits comes next.

“A vehicle is coming to market much, much sooner than it otherwise would. That’s a good thing,” CFO Paul Jacobson said Tuesday at the J.P. Morgan Auto Conference. “Unfortunately, the production isn’t there because we are ramping up the supply chain and ramping up the tooling and ramping up the scale as we are producing. So that’s why you’ve seen some of the lower volumes in the Hummer and the Lyriq.”

The automaker took steps to speed the development of big-ticket EVs, such as the GMC Hummer pickup and Cadillac Lyriq, to get them to market quickly. Scaling production of those vehicles will soon speed up as Ultium Cells, a battery cell joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution, opens its first plant this month.

An opening date for the plant in Warren, Ohio, has not yet been finalized. An Ultium plant in Tennessee is scheduled to open next year, and a plant in Michigan is expected to open in 2024. GM and Ultium have not yet announced the location for a fourth plant.

“That’s where you start to see significant scale opportunities going forward,” Jacobson said.

Today, the Hummer EV pickup, Lyriq and Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV are GM’s only EVs in the market. The automaker will launch more EVs next year and aspires to have an all-electric lineup by 2035.

The ramp-ups for the Hummer and Lyriq have been slower than with traditional vehicle launches as GM transitions to the Ultium battery platform.

“Not all vehicles will be created equally in profitability as we go through an aggressive launch cycle,” Jacobson said.

Profitability will improve as production scales up, and internal combustion vehicles will continue to fund GM’s EVs until they are phased out around 2035, Jacobson said.

“Historically, we haven’t given model-level profitability,” he said. Executives are considering “do we need to do that in the future to show that juxtaposition between things that are in full production [and] things that are in startup?”

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