Construction is set to begin later this year, and the work will increase the footprint of the facility by 15 percent, bringing its total to to 3.7 million square feet. Production schedules will be unaffected by the work, meaning 4,000 employees will stay on the job.
Fairfax Assembly currently produces the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu. Operating three shifts, a completed vehicle rolls out the door every 58 seconds. The present facility was completed in 1987, but since it first opened in 1945 Fairfax has manufactured more than 12 million vehicles.
New paint shop, other upgrades drive more efficient production, retain nearly 4,000 jobs
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – General Motors today announced a $600-million investment in the Fairfax Assembly and Stamping Plant, including the construction of a new 450,000 square-foot paint shop, the installation of a new stamping press and other upgrades.
It is one of GM's largest plant investments ever, and builds on nearly $2 billion invested in Fairfax in the last decade. Earlier this month, GM announced it would invest $1.5 billion in North American facilities in 2013. This Fairfax investment comprises a large part of that commitment.
Construction at the 3.2-million-square-foot plant begins later this year and is expected to take about two years to complete, increasing the footprint of the plant by about 15 percent to 3.7 million-square-feet. Vehicle production schedules will be unaffected by the construction, keeping the plant's three shifts of nearly 4,000 hourly and salaried employees on the job.
"This major investment is a vote of confidence in the employees and leadership of this plant and will allow them to continue producing beautiful, world-class vehicles like the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse – with the same quality workmanship that has defined the Fairfax complex for nearly 70 years," said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson.
The all-new paint shop includes substantial upgrades in technology, and will occupy a new building at Fairfax, with new tooling, robots and state-of-the-art environmental and efficiency enhancements. Some of the upgrades include:
Up to 20-percent smaller footprint, up to 50-percent less energy use per vehicle and reduced Volatile Organic Compound emissions
GM-patented Radiant Tub Ovens, designed to use 20 percent less natural gas and 40 percent less electricity
Thin Film Technology, which reduces water use and maintenance and eliminates hazardous chemicals from the waste stream
Hyper Throw E-COAT, which places more coating in cavities and recesses for optimal corrosion protection.
In the stamping facility, the upgraded AA3X press will replace the current middle press used to create some of the structural reinforcements for vehicle body frames. The upgraded press is expected to enhance quality and reduce waste through greater accuracy.
"The United Auto Workers have proudly built vehicles in Fairfax for decades and looks forward to being part of the upgrades that will be taking place in the plant," said UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who directs the union's GM Department. "This commitment to the future of the plant and the workforce is a reminder to all of us that we build the world's best vehicles, with the world's best people."
GM's Fairfax Assembly Plant has a rich and important history in Kansas City, dating to 1945. The plant has employed several hundred thousand people over nearly 70 years, built some of GM's best vehicles, and, during World War II, was the first industrial facility to make automobiles and jet fighters in the same building. The current plant opened in 1987. Since beginning production in Kansas City in 1945, more than 12 million GM vehicles have been built at Fairfax.
The Fairfax plant currently builds the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu. The Malibu was the first 2013 midsize car to earn a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's New Car Assessment Program and a 2012 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Buick LaCrosse eAssist model was named among the "Best of What's New" technologies by Popular Science magazine.
"General Motors is one of the largest employers in Kansas and Kansas City and this announcement plays an important role in continuing to grow the economy of Kansas," said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. "We build great things in Kansas and GM's commitment means we will continue to do so for years to come."
Fairfax by the numbers
Year opened (current facility): 1987
Employees: 3,877 (3,561 hourly / 316 salaried)
Union: UAW Local 31
Facility size: 572 acres
Manufacturing area: 85 acres under roof
Manufacturing floor space: 3,044,561 square feet (pre-construction)
Vehicles produced in 2012: 283,213
Decade of Investments
$20 million in 2011 for upgrades related to the LaCrosse eAssist,
$136 million in 2010 for the New Generation Malibu
$158 million in 2009 for the launch of the all-new Buick LaCrosse
$208 million in 2007 for the launch of the all-new Chevrolet Malibu
$651 million in 2006 for the launch of the all-new Saturn Aura
$722 million in 2003 for the launch of the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu