GM to build Cadillac SRX at Spring Hill plant in Tennessee
Spring Hill, Tenn. — – General Motors Co. and the UAW confirmed Wednesday that the automaker will build the next-generation Cadillac SRX at its Spring Hill manufacturing plant, where it also will invest another $185 million to build new gasoline engines. The engine work retains 390 jobs, GM said.
The SRX crossover is currently built in Mexico. As part of the last national labor agreement with the United Auto Workers, GM agreed to relocate production of a vehicle from Mexico, which will bring jobs back to the U.S. The automaker previously announced $350 million in investment at Spring Hill for two midsize vehicles which are expected to create or retain about 1,800 jobs. The SRX is one of those vehicles.
A UAW leader said the SRX is coming to Spring Hill because the UAW and GM management worked together.
“In 2009, it was a very tough time,” Cindy Estrada, UAW Vice President who heads the GM Department said during a news conference here. “There was talk about closing this plant. And through the collective bargaining process we were able to work together to idle it because we all were committed ... How do we bring product to Spring Hill, because we knew how important it was to this community, to the kids, to the grandchildren and for the workers who produce that product.”
GM has not publicly named the other vehicle to be built at the plant, though analysts believe it is the GMC Acadia, which would move from GM’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant. LMC Automotive expects both the SRX and Acadia will begin production in Spring Hill by August 2016. The Detroit automaker has confirmed the next-generation SRX will be out in about a year.
Bringing a vehicle from Mexico to America is a huge win for the UAW and membership of UAW Local 1853. A few years ago, workers didn’t know if vehicle assembly would return to Spring Hill, said Mike Herron, UAW Local 1853 shop chairman.
“This means jobs security to them. This has been kind of a roller-coaster ride with the economy and things that occurred,” Herron said. “And for General Motors to make the commitment not only to this plant but to bringing products back to America, I think it shows the commitment to America, it shows a commitment to the manufacturing footprints that are in this country and it shows a commitment to the team members that we have here at this location.”
It was not immediately clear what impact the SRX production move will have on employment at the GM plant in Mexico.
The automaker made its latest investment announcement Wednesday at Spring Hill at its large manufacturing complex to loud applause at a news conference at the plant. The nearly 7 million-square-foot facility sits on 2,100 acres about 35 miles south of Nashville.Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and other local officials attended. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. — who opposed the government bailout of automakers and has been an opponent of the UAW’s attempts to unionize a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee — did not attend, but a GM official said he sent his regrets.
Haslam thanked GM for the additional investment at the manufacturing complex, which has been promised more than $1 billion in investments since 2010.
“We can produce a product here that can compete with anyone in the world,” he said.
Workers at Spring Hill build four-cylinder versions of the Chevrolet Equinox crossover that supplements production at two other facilities. The plant is the sole manufacturing location for the special white-diamond color Equinox. The plant is billed as a highly flexible operation, with the ability to build any car or crossover.
The SRX has been Cadillac’s top-selling nameplate through July. Sales of the SRX crossover have totaled 33,463 through the first seven months of the year, up 15.7 percent.
“The ability for Spring Hill to earn that right to make that premium product we’re really proud and I think builds on our past,” said Ken Knight, Spring Hill manufacturing complex manager. “We’ve got a solid foundation and demonstrated the ability to do it. But still, it’s confirmation that the corporation trusts us.”
GM’s Spring Hill complex employs about 2,300, including about 1,600 hourly workers, 300 salaried workers and about 400 from third parties. GM’s largest plant in North America includes engine and stamping plants, and injection molding and painting operations.
GM said Spring Hill is one of six global locations the company has chosen to produce the engine which the company is building to support customer demand for fuel-sipping engines. Flint is another site; others are in Mexico, Hungary, South Korea and China.
The company did not provide timing on when Spring Hill will begin building the engines, but said it is part of an all-new set of Ecotec powerplants that will be used in 27 GM vehicles by the 2017 model year. The company said the engines will power many “high-volume small car and compact crossover vehicles.”
“These announcements today reinforce our absolute faith in this facility and our strong commitment to this community,” GM North America Manufacturing Manager Arvin Jones said.
The new Ecotec products include 11 engines with three- and four-cylinder variants. The company said the engines will range from 1-liter to 1.5-liter engines, some turbocharged, and with horsepower ratings ranging from 75 to 165 horsepower.
The automaker also said Wednesday it will invest $48.4 million in its Bedford, Indiana, powertrain castings plant, creating or retaining 45 jobs there. The Bedford facility will make components for the new engines, Jones said.
Spring Hill builds three Ecotec engines now: the 2.-liter turbocharged, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine used in vehicles such as the Chevy Malibu.