• Jun 26, 2009
2010 Chevy Spark - Click above for high-res image gallery

Following weeks of speculation, General Motors finally made its decision official this afternoon. Its new small cars will be built in Michigan with final assembly taking place at the Lake Orion plant with stampings coming from the nearby Pontiac Metal Center. As a result of the decision, 1,400 jobs will be preserved in hard-hit Michigan.

The Lake Orion factory was due to be idled in September, when production of the Pontiac G6 ends there. Instead it will be re-tooled to build a new small car that has not yet been announced. The plant will be specified as a B/C plant, meaning it will have flexibility to build both B and C segment cars. The first will be a B car, which will replace the Aveo and may be called the Viva. The plant will also be able to build C cars like the new Cruze and possibly a Buick version of the Opel Astra. The Viva would be a B-segment car similar in size to the new Ford Fiesta. Powertrain components will also be sourced from GM's North American operations although no specifics have been announced yet. GM emphasized that this is the first car of this size to be built in the United States from any major automaker.




[Source: General Motors]

PRESS RELEASE

Michigan Plants Will Build GM's Future Small Car

UAW, state & local government support, and GM's efficient, flexible manufacturing operations make competitive, profitable small car in U.S. possible

1,400 total jobs to be saved

DETROIT -- General Motors selected its assembly plant in Orion Township, Mich. and stamping facility in Pontiac, Mich., to build its future small car, which will add to the automaker's growing portfolio of U.S.-built, highly fuel-efficient cars, including the Chevrolet Cruze and Volt. Today's announcement will restore approximately 1,400 jobs in total -- 1,200 at Orion Assembly and 200 at Pontiac Metal Center, Building # 14.

This decision is dependent on the successful outcome of ongoing economic incentive negotiations between GM and state and local government officials.

"Small cars represent one of the fastest-growing segments in both the U.S. and around the world," said Troy Clarke, president of General Motors North America. " GM will be the only automaker, foreign or domestic, to build small cars in the U.S . , and we believe Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping are well suited to deliver a high-quality, fuel-efficient car that competes with anything in the marketplace."

A selection team comprised of leaders from several of GM's functional areas, including manufacturing, labor relations and finance, made the final decision based on a specific set of criteria. Orion Assembly will be retooled and is anticipated to be a two-shift operation, building 160,000 cars annually - a combination of both small and compact vehicles.

"This is great news for our members at UAW Local 5960, Oakland County, and the State of Michigan, and shows the world the UAW can compete in the most competitive segment of the automotive industry," said Cal Rapson, UAW Vice President and Director, UAW-GM Department. "My heart also goes out to our UAW members in Janesville, Wisc., and Spring Hill, Tenn. Our work will not be complete until all of our members displaced by the shrinking auto industry are returned to work. With today's announcement, we can begin to restore hope that the worst of the times are behind us."

Gary Cowger, Group Vice President of GM Global Manufacturing & Labor Relations added: "I would like to personally thank all of the key stakeholders involved in the review process, including state and local government officials. This vehicle segment is one of the toughest and most competitive in the world but with our recently modified agreement with the UAW and GM's proven capability in efficient, flexible manufacturing, it is now possible for GM to produce these size vehicles in the U.S. in a cost-competitive and profitable way."

As announced on June 1, Orion Assembly will be placed into standby capacity status in Sept. 2009. Pontiac Metal Center 's Building #14 will be placed into standby capacity status in Dec. 2010. Pontiac Metal's buildings #15 and #25 will close by Dec. 2010, or sooner depending on market demand. Timing for the retooling of the small car assembly and stamping plants is still under study, but we anticipate this prep work would begin in late 2010 in anticipation of the start of production in 2011.

Two other GM assembly plants in Spring Hill, Tenn. and Janesville, Wis. were also under consideration to build the future small car. Spring Hill will be placed in standby capacity status in Nov. 2009, as announced earlier this month. The plant could be brought online at some point in the future should GM require additional capacity due to increased market demand. Janesville was placed on standby capacity in May 2009 and will remain in that status.

GM already has a strong manufacturing presence in the United States. Currently, about 67 percent of GM cars and trucks sold in the United States are built there. With this announcement, GM anticipates that U.S. production levels will increase beyond 70 percent by 2013, augmenting its already industry-leading U.S. manufacturing footprint of by far more plants than any other OEM.

General Motors Corp., one of the world's largest automakers, was founded in 1908, and today manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 235,000 people in every major region of the world, and sells and services vehicles in some 140 countries. In 2008, GM sold 8.35 million cars and trucks globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Would be nice to see a compariuson test between this and the Fiesta.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @ Erik: Geez, what jackass would be upset that 1,400 jobs were being preserved??? I can be a jerk at times, but c'mon, that's just kind of heartless... As I explained in my retort to Coolio, I failed to mention that my original comment was solely in reference to GM's seeming decline in the design of their products. I've seen 3 of their new vehicles in the past week or so, none of which even slightly appealed to me visually.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "As I explained in my retort to Coolio, I failed to mention that my original comment was solely in reference to GM's seeming decline in the design of their products. I've seen 3 of their new vehicles in the past week or so, none of which even slightly appealed to me visually."

        there are nearly 300 million people in this country.

        You don't matter.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I happen to like the look of the Spark and quite a few of the new GM designs (except for the Terrain, which looks like it was styled by committee).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is the spark an actual production car or a concept?

      Also, why would GM make a Buick version of the Astra? I'd say that Chevy is the right brand for such a product instead of Buick. What do you think?
        • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        Alex:

        The Spark is an upcoming production model (the concept was called the Beat). The Viva (Aveo replacement) will probably be built at Orion, too.

        And Buick needs an Astra model to compete with the premium compact segment...the market that the old TSX and the current S40/V50 occupy. This segment is probably going to grow in the near future, and Buick wants to be in the game. The Cruze ain't going to cut it in that segment.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Spark is a Production car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if the jobs saved will equal the lives lost when these things run into or are run into by anything else on the road.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I thought they fired the Aztec desingers?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now YOU can drive the racist car from Transformers 2!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Another non-sense comment. Are you related to Remusrm ??
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm failing to see just why in the hell we even bothered bailing GM out...
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Coolio: Let me be a little more specific. I was referring to their general design language. The design of the 3 new vehicles of theirs I have seen in the past week or so seem to share a common thread in that they're all pretty terrible. Kind of hard to move forward when you're designs seem to be getting worse and worse...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Evan - I agree that employing American workers at BMW, Honda and Toyota plants, as well as others is a good thing. But no matter what, it is still a Japanese company and we need a real, American manufacturing base. Manufacturing creates wealth. We need to do that for ourselves, with our own corporations instead of creating wealth for Japanese corporations.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The company is announcing they are saving 1,400 jobs in one of the hardest hit areas of the country by building the first small, stylish, fuel efficient B segment car ever built in the US and you are failing to see why we saved them? You must be blind son.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ugly design seems to be working quite well for Honda and the Bangle BMWs were some of the best selling ones in history. I would argue that the new GM designs are better looking than the Hondas and some of the Bimmers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Evan: if Toyota or Honda were in the same trouble GM and Chrysler are, the U.S. government would probably consider bailing them out too, just to protect the jobs and the manufacturing base. We already give them huge tax incentives to have their factories here.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "@ Coolio: Let me be a little more specific. I was referring to their general design language. The design of the 3 new vehicles of theirs I have seen in the past week or so seem to share a common thread in that they're all pretty terrible. Kind of hard to move forward when you're designs seem to be getting worse and worse..."

        fortunately for the rest of the world, your personal opinion doesn't mean squat.

        If we shuttered every company which made a product that someone, somewhere, didn't like, there'd be no businesses left.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your point was not articulated at all in your initial comment. The fact is, as long as they are well screwed together, even if they are boring, they will sell well. Example: Toyota. In addition, these cars are not boring.

        GM cannot hope to please all potential consumers so perhaps these designs don't please you. That is your right. But to say that you don't understand we in the hell we bailed them out (ignoring, as I mentioned, the loss of manufacturing sovereignity, jobs plus corporate profits and engineering talent) is simplistic at best, dangerous at the worst. Somehow, those thoughts didn't come across in your juvenile comment.

        As an American, we should all be cheering these guys on.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Coolio "Because the US must retain a manufacturing base. Oh, and the jobs"

        Most of the cars Toyota, Honda, etc sell in North America are manufactured in North America. The only difference between Toyota and GM is the nationality of the executives, the factories are still in American cities employing American workers!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Glad GM is choosing Orion. Michigan is so hard-hit by the slow decline of the American auto industry, and particularly the Detroit Metro area. Orion is a good plant, so it's win-win for those most sorely in need of a 'win' at the moment.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Beat was a better name.
        • 5 Years Ago
        true,
        but Spark goes better with Volt
        • 5 Years Ago
        And Honda probably still owns the 'Beat' name.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Its about time, Make it quality and people will buy it, The Fiesta will need some serious competition.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Autoblog: why the picture of the Spark? It's an A-segment hatch, or city car. It is not a B-segment supermini.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was wondering the same thing. The A-segment Spark is likely the model that GM will be importing from China. To post pictures of it in an article referencing a B-segment vehicle is just confusing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why are the headlights on that thing so massive? They're the same size as the door.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow, they are. I never noticed this before.

        Still looks damn good though!
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