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]
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.