Electric Vehicles

General Motors pledges to add 3,500 new EV charging stations at company facilities

General Motors employees will soon have more access to chargers at work.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

When your CEO lays out a business model that includes mass electrification, it only makes that one of the first steps is employee buy-in to the plan via driving electrified vehicles. To help facilitate that model selection, General Motors is installing 3,500 new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at its company facilities in the U.S. and Canada. The infusion will triple the number of charging stations already provided.

"This is another step down the path to making EV ownership easier for everyone, especially for our own employees," said Mark Reuss, GM president. "Charging infrastructure is crucial to wider acceptance of EVs, and we'll continue to do everything we can to improve it, both for our employees and for all our customers. We encourage other companies to do likewise."

According to a release, "GM will prioritize charging installation sites based on employee need and will work with charging infrastructure companies to begin installing the charging locations starting in late 2020. GM employees will have access to Level 2 charging, ideal for efficiently charging EVs throughout a workday. Level 2 chargers can charge the current Chevrolet Bolt EV model up to a speed of 25 miles every hour."

General Motors has mostly bypassed the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle trend and gone straight to electric vehicles save for the Chevrolet Volt (may it rest in peace). But, the Bolt EV is alive and kicking. GMC will introduce the Hummer EV in May, a Cadillac EV is on the way, and there are undoubtedly numerous other electrified vehicles in the pipeline in the near future.

"Over 90 percent of EV owners charge either at home, at work or a combination of both," said Rick Spina, vice president of EV/AV commercialization and infrastructure. "We have new EVs from GMC for the 2022 model year and from Cadillac planned for the 2023 model year, and we want to make it as convenient as possible for our employees to enjoy the rewards of EV ownership."

GM recently announced changes to its myChevrolet app which allow for dynamic navigation and other features meant to make life with an EV easier.

GM recently accelerated its commitment to power 100 percent of global operations with renewable energy by 2040. In the U.S., 100 percent of facilities will be powered with renewable energy by 2030.

General Motors has stepped in and utilized its Warren transmission plant for face mask production.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors launched the project to produce face masks at scale on Friday, March 20, amid increasing pressure from the Trump administration to step up like Ford and FCA had. By next week, the automaker plans to deliver the first 20,000 masks to frontline workers.

"Our team began looking at ways we could quickly utilize our talents and resources to help in the shared fight against COVID-19," said Peter Thom, GM vice president, Global Manufacturing Engineering. "Working around the clock, our team rallied with incredible passion and focus to come up with a plan to produce masks that will help protect the women and men on the front lines of this crisis."

2020 face mask coronavirus production General Motors worked to create a clean environment for mask production. Photo courtesy of General Motors

How did it all come together? Here's a breakdown of the timeline of six days, 23 hours, 30 minutes, in GM's own words.

March 20-26, 2020

At 3 p.m. on Friday, March 20, the core team assembled for the first time, kicking off the project and starting the timer.

"Because we wanted to move fast, the team set an incredibly aggressive goal: To have the production line up and running tests within a week," said Thom.

More than 30 engineers, designers, buyers and members of the manufacturing team were asked to help with product development, sourcing materials and equipment, and planning the production process.

"The first people we called were those who work with fabric vehicle components," said Karsten Garbe, GM plant director, Global Pre-Production Operations. "In a few days, the company's seat belt and interior trim experts became experts in manufacturing face masks."

2020 face mask coronavirus production The company's interior and trim experts had to quickly pivot to working with new materials. Photo courtesy of General Motors

The team sourced the necessary raw materials by leveraging GM's existing supply chain. These materials include metal nose pieces, elastic straps and blown, non-woven fabric filter material. Simultaneously, GM collaborated with JR Automation in Holland, Michigan and Esys Automation in Auburn Hills to design and build the custom machinery needed to assemble the masks.

For the project, the team selected the ISO Class 8-equivalent cleanroom at GM's manufacturing plant in Warren. Work began at the Warren facility by removing existing equipment from the cleanroom. The team cleared approximately 31,000 square feet to accommodate the mask production lines. Crews then installed new electrical service lines to power the production equipment and assembly stations.

2020 face mask coronavirus production Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. Photo courtesy of General Motors

With the site cleared and prepped, production equipment and materials were then delivered to the Warren facility. Crews worked around the clock to install equipment and stage the production line. The team then tested each step in the production process, looking for opportunities to improve quality and production speed.

March 27, 2020

At 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 27, the project team had their first production-made mask in their hands.

"Not only did the team make their goal, but they over-delivered," said Thom. "They actually beat our deadline, running the first mask through the equipment 30 minutes ahead of target. We're excited because this means we're even closer to being able to protect the healthcare teams who are working tirelessly to save lives."

March 30, 2020

The projected production volume is just as aggressive as the project's timeline. By Monday, March 30, more than 2,000 masks were produced by teams working through the weekend. These initial test samples will be used to ensure the quality standards are met. Once these quality measures are completed, the team expects to start producing masks for delivery early next week.

2020 face mask coronavirus production Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Monday, March 30, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM and the UAW will seek more than two dozen paid volunteers from Detroit-area plants to staff mask operations. In addition, GM has implemented a series of safety measures to protect these team members through physical distancing, enhanced on-site cleaning and pre-entry health screening.

Planned: April 8, 2020

The team expects to have 20,000 masks ready for delivery on Wednesday, April 8. Once the line is running at full speed, it will be able to produce up to 50,000 masks every day – or up to 1.5 million masks a month. GM is currently developing a plan for distributing the masks, including using some of this important safety equipment to protect employees in critical GM operations.

GM is teaming up with Ventec Life Systems to help with the production of respiratory care products.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Though General Motors plants are idled by the outbreak of COVID-19, colloquially known as coronavirus, General Motors is stepping up to use their logistics, purchasing, and manufacturing knowledge to aid Ventec Life Systems with the manufacturing of respiratory car products.

The partnership is in cooperation with StopTheSpread.org, the nation's coordinated private sector response to the COVID-19.

According to a statement, "Ventec will leverage GM's logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build more of their critically important ventilators." This statement does not explicitly say that GM will manufacture ventilators, rather that they will be a resource for Ventec.

"With GM's help, Ventec will increase ventilator production," said Chris Kiple, Ventec Life Systems CEO. "By tapping their expertise, GM is enabling us to get more ventilators to more hospitals much faster. This partnership will help save lives."

StopTheSpread.org has committed to continuing to unite business leaders nationwide to collect resources to complement and support government efforts to battle the outbreak and its consequences.

"We are grateful for the partnership between GM and Ventec Life Systems, which will enable Ventec to drastically scale production of critically needed respiratory care products. This is a vital step in delivering relief to our healthcare system, which is threatened by the spread of COVID-19. As this virus continues to endanger the lives of countless Americans, StopTheSpread.org is working to unite the business community around a common threat to our economy and our way of life. We know the strength of this effort relies on urgent coordination between the public and private sectors in order to get through this crisis."