GM to invest close to $1B in 4 US factories, 2 in Michigan

General Motors is investing $918 million in four U.S. plants for expanded V-8 engine production in light-duty full size pickups and large SUVs as well as component parts for electric vehicles.

GM made the announcement Friday at Flint Engine plant where GM leaders, UAW leaders and Michigan’s Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist gathered. As part of the investment, two plants in Michigan will receive new products to build: Flint Engine Operations and Bay City Powertrain facilities.

GM said of the $918 million, $854 million will go to prepare the facilities to make GM’s sixth generation small block V-8 engine used in the Chevrolet Camaro, light duty pickups and large SUVs. An additional $64 million will be invested in Rochester Operations in Rochester, New York and Defiance Operations in Defiance, Ohio plants to make castings and components to support GM’s EV production.

New trucks sit outside of General Motors Flint Engine Operations on Oct. 3, 2019.

The focus of all the investments is job retention, said GM spokesman Dan Flores. That means a total of about 2,400 union and salaried jobs will be retained.

Flores also said these investments will help GM strengthen its full-size pickup and SUV business because this new V-8 engine will give GM vehicles a performance edge in what is a competitive market segment. GM’s pickup and SUV sales are key to GM’s profits and help to fund GM’s development of EVs as the company looks to transition to a zero-emissions lineup by 2035. GM said in a media release that “product details, timing, performance and features related to GM’s next gen V-8 engine are not being released at this time.”

“These investments, coupled with the hard work and dedication of our team members in Flint, Bay City, Rochester and Defiance, enable us to build world-class products for our customers and provide job security at these plants for years to come,” said Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Sustainability, in a statement.

Here is how the investment breaks down:

  • Flint Engine Operations: GM employs 709 people at Flint Engine. GM will invest $579 million to prepare the plant to assemble the sixth-generation small block V-8 gasoline engines as well as do some preparation of engine parts for final engine assembly. Construction work at the facility will begin immediately and Flint will continue building the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel used in GM full size light duty pickups during the renovations.

  • Bay City: GM, which employs 425 people at the plant, will invest $216 million to build camshafts, connecting rods and machinery used in making the engine block and head that go into future production at Flint Engine.

  • Defiance Operations, Ohio: GM, which employs 530 people at Defiance, will invest $55 million in the facility. Of that, $47 million will cover the cost to prepare the facility to build block castings to be sent to Flint Engine for its production. The investment includes $8 million for Defiance to cast metal parts for future EVs.

  • Rochester Operations, New York: GM employs 745 people at Rochester. There it will invest $68 million, in which $12 million will be used to prepare the plant to make other parts for the future V-8 production at Flint Engine. GM will spend $56 million to prepare the facility to make battery pack parts for EVs.

Some workers at Flint Engine said the investments provide future job security there, people familiar with the investment told the Free Press on Thursday. Those people asked to not be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media. But they said contractors have been at Flint Engine for about three months doing prep work. Some at the plant hope the upgrades could lead to 100 additional new jobs in the future, they said.

Flores declined to speculate on future hiring, emphasizing that the focus of these current investments is job retention at the four locations.

Flint Engine currently builds the 1.5-liter turbo engine for the Chevrolet Malibu sedan and the 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine for the light-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups and the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon large SUVs.

GM’s last big investment in Flint Engine was in 2015. It put $263 million in the plant to build a new engine line. In 2019, GM assigned Flint the Duramax 3.0-liter turbo-diesel for its light-duty pickups. Nearby, GM builds the heavy-duty Silverado and Sierra at Flint Assembly plant.

In a statement, UAW President Ray Curry said, “Our union celebrates the announcement of these new investments into our GM facilities, which will benefit our members at Locals 659 (Flint, Michigan), 362 (Bay City, Michigan), 211 (Defiance, Ohio) and 1097 (Rochester, New York). The skill and dedication of UAW members are a key part of GM’s success, and this investment recognizes that our members will remain a vital part of GM’s future.”

In September, GM announced it will invest $760 million at its Toledo Propulsion Systems plant to prepare it to make drive units that will be used in future GM EVs. Those drive units will be used in the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV, 2024 GMC Sierra EV and current GMC Hummer EVs. GM’s Factory Zero, which straddles Detroit and Hamtramck, is currently building the Hummer and will build the Silverado EV, along with Orion Assembly in Orion Township.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: GM to invest close to $1B in 4 US factories, 2 in Michigan