GM to pour billions into manufacturing hub for electric and self-driving cars

Once in full operation, the GM plant will employ more than 2,200 people. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - General Motors said on Monday (Jan 27) that it was investing US$2.2 billion (S$3 billion) in a Detroit plant where it will produce all-electric trucks and sport utility vehicles, fulfilling a key promise made during last year's union negotiations.

The investment will fund upgrades like new machines and tools at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant's paint shop, body shop and general assembly area. The plant had been scheduled to close this month but was spared in the October deal that ended the longest GM strike in half a century.

As part of that agreement, GM vowed to commit US$3 billion to the plant's overhaul. The company says that promise is met by the investment in upgrades and an additional US$800 million for supplier tooling and related projects.

Once in full operation, the plant will employ more than 2,200 people, the company said. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2021 on an all-electric pickup truck, followed by the Cruise Origin, a six-passenger vehicle that was unveiled last week and is intended for use as a self-driving taxi.

Legacy automakers are in a race with one another and a slew of start-ups and technology companies to capture growing demand for electric vehicles while also preparing for the advent of autonomous vehicles. GM's Cruise Origin, for example, faces competition from Uber and Waymo, which is a subsidiary of Google's parent company, Alphabet.

In a statement, a GM spokesman said the investments announced on Monday were made possible by a state tax credit from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority.

"Over the past decade, the Michigan MEGA has helped enable GM to invest more than US$10 billion in its Michigan facilities," the spokesman, Dan Flores, said.

GM has built more than 4 million vehicles at Detroit-Hamtramck since it opened in 1985, the company said. The Cadillac CT6 and the Chevrolet Impala are produced at the factory, which will be idled at the end of February for several months for renovations.

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