With three shifts running at two Canadian assembly plants, General Motors is cranking out as many Chevrolet Equinox crossovers as it can. Rather than miss out on sales because demand is outstripping supply, the company's Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, idled since 2009, is being put into service to pick up the overflow. Spring Hill will be nowhere near its yearly capacity picking up the Equinox's slack, however. The plant was originally the assembly point for Saturn's entire line, after all, so there's capability for body stamping and engine production in addition to the assembly line. Most recently, the Chevrolet Traverse was produced at the facility, and General Motors plans to put what it's calling a midsize vehicle there by 2015.

For now, $61 million is being invested in Spring Hill to make the changes for Equinox production, and 685 workers are being brought on board. The green button will be pushed sometime in the second half of 2012, and the ultimate plan for Spring Hill is to be a quick-change artist capable of flexible operation. An additional $183 million and 1,196 personnel will be invested in Spring Hill for the midsize vehicle effort, as well.

Equinox inventory has been uncomfortably low for GM for the last three years, which might eg the question "Why now?" when Chevrolet's hot-potato crossover is going to face increasing challenges from recently refreshed competitors like the 2012 Honda CR-V and 2013 Ford Escape. However, this isn't the first time that Equinox production has been expanded. At the very least, the Spring Hill plant makes some sense as an overflow facility because of its rail line connections, lower-cost Southern U.S. location, and capacity. Balance those savings out against the cost of shipping parts in from suppliers and the U.S. dollar vs. Canadian dollar exchange rate, and GM is either legitimately trying to create a super overflow plant with ultra-flexible operation, or just herding cats to some other end. Check out the press release posted after the jump for the official word.

Show full PR text
* Additional production of Chevrolet Equinox to begin in second half of 2012
* $61 million investment and 685 jobs for flexible operation
* $183 million for future midsize vehicles and 1,196 jobs

SPRING HILL, Tenn. – General Motors will invest $61 million to bring its idled Spring Hill assembly plant back to life as one of the world's most-flexible manufacturing facilities capable of building any GM car or crossover based on customer demand or manufacturing need.

The investment will create 594 hourly jobs and 91 salaried positions for the flexible operation scheduled to begin with the hot-selling Chevrolet Equinox in the second half of 2012. The additional production will supplement Equinox production in Canada, the main assembly sites of the midsize crossover vehicle and its sibling the GMC Terrain.

The Equinox has been so popular – U.S. sales were up 18 percent in October – that GM has increased production three times since it went into production in 2009.

GM also announced Monday a second investment of $183 million for future midsize vehicles to be built at Spring Hill, located about 40 miles south of Nashville. Timing was not announced, but that investment is expected to create an additional 1,090 hourly and 106 salaried positions.

"Spring Hill has a history as one of GM's most innovative and flexible plants," said Cathy Clegg, vice president of GM Labor Relations. "We're pleased that, working together with the UAW, we were able to build on that history and develop a plan to resume production at Spring Hill."

The potential for Spring Hill's future role was discussed as a part of negotiations for a four-year national labor agreement ratified in October.

"Our number one priority in auto negotiations this year was jobs," said UAW President Bob King. "We asked the company to bring jobs back to America , and that's what this collective bargaining agreement represents. Together, we are bringing 1,800 jobs to Tennessee, and a total of 6,400 new GM jobs, which translates to nearly 60,000 good, auto-related jobs in the United States."

Equinox production is only the start for Spring Hill Flex. Operators will be capable of building a variety of products on a range of platforms – covering for plants being retooled for new products and also allowing real-time reaction to sales spikes in a given car or crossover.

Spring Hill powertrain and stamping operations, part of the integrated complex that was the home to the former Saturn brand from 1990 to 2007 and the Chevrolet Traverse large crossover into 2009, are still operating. In fact, GM has invested $515 million in the engine operations in the last 14 months for current and next-generation Ecotec 4-cylinder engine production.

"The re-opening of Spring Hill is a testament to the value of collective bargaining," said UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who directs the union's General Motors Department. "Collective bargaining works for companies, for workers and for America. Collective bargaining is what brought good jobs to Tennessee. It is what built our middle class. It is how workers and communities have a voice in corporate decision-making. Bargaining is what gives the working class a seat at the table."


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  • 29 Comments
      DrEvil
      • 3 Years Ago
      All of the GM CUVs are selling well. The LAMBDAs plant just built its one millionth vehicle. A red Acadia Denali. Value for the dollar, I'd buy the 'Nox. The Equinox, Terrain and SRX are all strong sellers for GM. The 2012 SRX is even better with the 3.6 DI motor.
        The Other Bob
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DrEvil
        I would like to see the SRX brought to Spring Hill from Mexico. Be a nice PR move.
      Aleem
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is very nice to read, bring on back the American jobs and start reopening those closed plants. Maybe Camaro can come back over the border to either the Van Nuys California or Norwood Ohio plant where many of the 1967-1992 Camaros were built.
        tyler
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Aleem
        I wish the Camaro could be built in the United States again. Unfortunately, Norwood Assembly was demolished many years ago as it was a very, very old and outdated facility. Being from Dayton, Ohio, I have seen a city that was proud of its automotive history (Moraine Assembly, Delco and several Delphi plants) become bruised and battered as plants closed and jobs were lost. It is encouraging to see stories like this, and I am a firm believer that these stories will continue to surface more and more with time.
        John Jeffery
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Aleem
        28 General Motors of Canada Limited Plants were running here in 1998 today we have 3 and you think you have it bad. General Motors of Canada Limited was started in 1918 as a merger of two of McLaughlin Companies One building cars with Buick Motors and the other The Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Limited from 1915. Then McLaughlin went to the USA and became Director and Vice President of the Newly incorporated General Motors Corporation. This my friend will then make you think as to why General Motors would make Canada Suffer by giving build in the USA as you have screwed it up so many times now .
      cartergoodpeople
      • 3 Years Ago
      Could anyone give me some information on Spring Hill, I would love to move there and work at GM. I'm living in Florida and love to have a real good job for once in my life and meet new and good- peolpe... HELP!!!!!!!!!!!
      tenspeeder
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm surprised the Equinox is still such a hot seller. Rarely see any advertisements for it anymore. Has word-of-mouth really been that strong for the vehicle or are Chevy dealers really piling on the incentives to move the metal
        Fixitfixitstop
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tenspeeder
        I'm not surprised. If I were looking at the best value for any GM product, it would be the Equinox.
        DriverDan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tenspeeder
        You're trolling, right? Or didn't you read the positive reviews and the high number of units selling since the beginning?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tenspeeder
        [blocked]
        Julius
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tenspeeder
        Ah, the fact that the Equinox topped a Cars.com/Motorweek $29k small SUV comparo that used average-family parents as judges earlier this year probably has nothing to do with how "average people" think of the car.
        jbm0866
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tenspeeder
        The Equinox is a hot seller in spite of the lack of advertising because anyone shopping for a small SUV can see that it's the best of the bunch when all things are considered including price. The 2010 redesign came at a time when the competition was still putting out minor refreshes of older designs....but it remains to be seen if the new Ford Escape/Honda CRV have what it takes to slow things down for GM.
      stclair5211
      • 3 Years Ago
      The escape is going to blow this thing out of the water.
      donnieorama
      • 3 Years Ago
      lol--Good old GM. Our CANADIAN plants are overwhelmed--so we'll throw our own country the scraps at Spring Hill. Stay classy, GM!
      mr ortiz
      • 3 Years Ago
      i 've seen the same truck on my travels to the caribbean ,but i knew right away it wasn't the northamerican version,it was called something else and it looked much better than the one sold in the states,i suppose it could had been the european version of the equinox.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @mr ortiz
        [blocked]
        TBN27
        • 3 Years Ago
        @mr ortiz
        it is called the Chevrolet Captiva. it was designed by GMDAT and is sold all over the world except North America.
          1guyin10
          • 3 Years Ago
          @TBN27
          The Captiva is made and sold in Mexico and is also available to fleet buyers in the US - as of a few weeks ago. So if you want a newer Saturn Vue, just wait until they start cycling out of the fleets.
      level4
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great move GM. Would love to see more cars move from Korea, Mexico and Canada to some of its other idle plants like Wilmington, Moraine, OK city, Doraville, Janesville, etc. Of course this wont happen until most people realize that GM is a foreign car company and if they want a US built car they need to look at Toyota, Honda or VW.
        TCBRacing
        • 3 Years Ago
        @level4
        What vehicle sold by GM in the US is made in Korea? Aveo? Not sold here anymore. Replaced by the Sonic which is made in Michigan. The only vehicles sold by GM in the US are made in North America (thanks to NAFTA the Mexico and Canada production won't move to the US).
          1guyin10
          • 3 Years Ago
          @TCBRacing
          The upcoming Spark will be made in Korea.
      zindog333
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would iike for anyone that has any info on applying at spring hill for GM . PLEASE SEND ME SOME INFO.
      1guyin10
      • 3 Years Ago
      That is great news for the folks in Spring Hill. There are quite a few workers who transferred to other plants, but still own homes in the Spring Hill area. They can now transfer back. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Spring Hill was one of GMs most modern and flexible assembly plants thanks to a $700m refit a few years ago.
      EdA
      • 2 Years Ago
      forced exile in lansing michigan! where is collective bargaining! i miss my family :(
      denisebradley12
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would like a job !!! I work for Dana Corp. We make gaskets for you. Please let me know soon as you'er hiring . Shotokanwoman.. Denise Bradley
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