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GM to Spend an Additional $1 Billion on US Plants

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

General Motors Co. said today it will spend an additional $1 billion on US manufacturing plants, a move the automaker estimated would add or retain 1500 factory jobs.

GM (Detroit) didn’t specify the factories affected, saying in a statement that such details “will be announced throughout the year.” The investment will involve “multiple new vehicle, advanced technology and component projects,” GM said.

The largest US-based automaker also “will begin work” to bring axle production for its next generation of full-size pickups in-house to plants in Michigan. That includes some work which has been done in Mexico. GM said that would add 450 jobs. The automaker plans to add about 7000 US jobs overall in the next few years, including technology and vehicle-financing positions.

The company’s announcement came after President-elect Donald Trump criticized GM on Jan. 3 for making Chevrolet Cruze hatchbacks in Mexico. “Make in U.S.A . or pay big border tax!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter. Most Cruzes are built in Ohio.

GM didn’t reference the president-elect in today’s announcement. However, the automaker said it has invested $21 billion in the United States since 2009. That was the year GM emerged from a US-backed bankruptcy. The company also said in the past four years it added 25,000 US jobs, including 6000 manufacturing jobs.

‘GM’s Aggressiveness’

“As the US manufacturing base increases its competitiveness, we are able to further increase our investment, resulting in more jobs for America and better results for our owners,”  GM CEO Mary Barra said in the statement.

Typically, automaker spending on factories is part of a long-term process.

“These investments and hiring plans have long been in the works and are a continuation of what the company has been doing in recent years—trying to run a successful, profitable business,” Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for Autotrader, said in an e-mail. “The only thing ‘new’ here is GM’s aggressiveness in announcing its plans.”

Trump has been critical of other automakers, including Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI) over a now-canceled Mexican plant to make Focus small cars. The company said Jan. 3 it was canceling that project but would still make the next-generation Focus in Mexico at an existing plant. Ford said last week it will build new versions of Ranger and Bronco trucks at a Wayne, MI, plant that now makes the Focus.

“Car companies and others, if they want to do business in our country, have to start making things here again,” Trump wrote in a Jan. 15 post on Twitter. “WIN!”

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