LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

General Motors Co. said Thursday it will invest $439 million into its Bowling Green Assembly Plant in Kentucky for a new 450,000-square-foot paint shop, retaining 150 jobs.

The investment at GM's Chevrolet Corvette plant is part of $5.4 billion GM announced last month that it will spend at U.S. plants over three years, creating 650 new jobs. So far, GM has announced about $1.4 billion of that amount.

GM said construction on the new paint shop in Bowling Green will begin this summer and last about two years. GM said Corvette production won't be impacted by the construction.

The new paint shop will have "substantial technology upgrades" including new tooling and robots, the automaker said. The carmaker said the new paint shop will help the environment and the plant's efficiency. For example, by using new equipment and light-emitting diode or LED lighting, GM says it will lowers energy use and help improve visual paint inspections. Other upgrades will help GM cut 25 percent of paint material it uses.

"With this major technology investment, we can continue to exceed the expectations of sports car buyers for years to come," GM North American Manufacturing Manager Arvin Jones said in a statement.

Closer to home, GM is considering an expansion at its Flint Assembly Plant, where GM already is spending $600 million on a new paint shop expected to begin operation next year. A Flint City Council committee is scheduled Thursday to set a public hearing for June 22 on a tax abatement request for investment at the plant's body shop.

The company has submitted documents to the city of Flint seeking a tax break on a possible $161 million investment that would retain 2,800 jobs.

GM spokesman Tom Wickham said GM is still reviewing whether to proceed with the project.

"General Motors continues to study plans to upgrade operations at its Flint Assembly plant," Wickham said in a statement. "At this time, no decision has been made on the project, as we are in the process of securing local and state incentives, as well as reviewing the business case internally."

The Bowling Green plant is the sole home to the popular Corvette sports car. Sales for Corvette are up 2.5 percent this year to 11,986 through April. Sales last year shot up 101.5 percent with the new model to 34,839.

Production of the Corvette in Bowling Green began in 1981 inside the 1 million-square-foot facility. The plant employs about 875 people.

GM has invested about $135 million into the Bowling Green plant over the past four years for the Corvette Stingray, new for the 2014 model year, and its Performance Build Center.

"This new paint shop will mirror the efficiencies and technologies of the new body shop, installed with the launch of the Stingray," UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said in a statement.

GM in late April, GM said it would spend $783.5 million at three Michigan plants, including $124 million at Pontiac Metal Center for a new press, $520 million at Lansing Delta Township Assembly for future vehicles and $139.5 million for a new body shop and stamping plant improvements at Warren Pre-Production Operations.

And earlier this month, GM announced a $174 million investment at its Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas for new equipment and technology for the next-generation 2016 Chevrolet Malibu which goes into production there later this year.

More investment is headed for Michigan plants, possibly at GM's Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant which is adding production of the next generation 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. Another about $1.3 billion investment could be announced at GM's Arlington Assembly Plant in Texas, where the company recently received tax abatement approval from the city for a sizable project at the SUV plant.

mburden@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2319

Twitter.com/MBurden_DN

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://detne.ws/1HkeLAh