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Inside GM’s huge investments in five US facilities

$1.3 billion investment brings automaker's total spending on US manufacturing plants to $2.8 billion in 2013.


FLINT, Mich. – General Motors’ (GM) total investments in its US operations will tally $2.8 billion by year’s end after the automaker committed another $1.3 billion to five manufacturing plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, as reported by CanadianManufacturing.com.

The once-troubled automaker says the investment will be used to produce new fuel-efficient engines and transmissions, enhance vehicle quality and streamline logistics; and create or retain up to 1,000 jobs. The investment brings the automaker’s total investment in its US operations to $10.1 billion since 2009.

The following is a breakdown of where GM will allocate the cash:

GM is investing $121 million in its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to build a logistics optimization centre that will add about 450,000 square-feet of total space and house various materials as part of the automaker’s initiative to lower material costs and improve logistics.

It says the centre will cut costs and improve efficiency by leveraging available plant real estate and streamlining the flow of materials.Construction is expected to be completed by early fall 2014 and the automaker expects it to save up to $5 million next year.

It will create 50 jobs.The 3.6 million square-foot Detroit-Hamtramck facility was opened in 1985 and employs more than 1,600 people.

GM manufactures the Chevrolet Volt, and Malibu; Cadillac ELR; Open Ampera; and Holden Volt at the plant.

(Click to enlarge) A detailed look at the investment General Motors has made in its US manufacturing facilities. Graphic ©General Motors Co.

At its Romulus Powertrain Operations, GM is investing $150 million for a capacity increase on the development of a new V6 engine program and another $343.4 million for a 10-speed transmission program. Details about this portion of the investment will be announced later, the automaker says.

The project is expected to create or retain a total of 654 jobs between the two programs at the facility.

The automaker is investing $22.6 million at its Bedford, Ind. powertrain operations for 10-speed transmission components and another $6.6 million to increase capacity of 6-speed transmission components already produced there.The investment will create or retain 40 jobs at the facility, which employs 602 workers. Bedford Powertrain produces transmission casings, converter housings and small gas engine blocks.

At the Flint Assembly facility in Flint, Mich., GM is investing $600 million to upgrade current facilities and build a new 596,000 square-foot paint shop. It will be the automaker’s third paint facility in North America to use an environmentally-friendly wet-coat paint process.

The facility is expected to be completed by October 2016.The new paint shop is expected to produce a 90% reductio in sludge to landfill and will use 20% less gas and 40% less electricity than the current facility. The facility will also undergo an upgrade to its conveyor system as well as various energy conservation projects to reduce its carbon footprint.

It currently employs 2,950 workers and produces Chevrolet and GMC Sierra crew and regular cab pick-up trucks and has capabilities to make light-duty Chevrolet Silverado crew and regular cab trucks.

Lastly, GM is investing $30.6 million to increase capacity for rear and front-wheel drive 6-speed transmissions at its Toledo Powertrain facility. The investment includes tooling and equipment.

The investment announcement came on the same day that retiring CEO Dan Akerson told the National Press Club in Washington that US taxpayers gained on the US government bailout of GM despite a reported loss of $10.9 billion because it saved 1.9 million jobs.

The automaker has been the subject of numerous headlines in recent weeks.

It announced that its product development chief Mary Barra would replace Akerson as CEO (she will also join the automaker’s Board of Directors) and sold off ownership stakes in Ally Financial for $900 million and shares in French automaker PSA Peugeot.

Last week, GM announced it would stop car production in Australia and shed 2,900 jobs because of high production costs and competition.