GM workers celebrate Chevy Camaro production returning to U.S.
Lansing — Spirits were high Monday at General Motors Co.’s Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant, as workers celebrated Chevrolet Camaro production officially returning to the United States for the first time since 1992.
“It’s here. The American muscle car comes back home to Lansing,” said United Auto Workers Local 652 President Mike Green to the cheers of workers. “We’ve been talking about this for four or five years now.”
After returning to the market in 2009, Camaro production was at the automaker’s Oshawa Assembly in Ontario. The original 1967 Camaro went on sale on Sept. 29, 1966, and was mainly produced in the United States until being discontinued in 2002. The sixth-generation Camaro is the first to be made in Michigan.
The celebration was particularly special for UAW members, as the Camaro celebration came less than 12 hours after union leaders reached a tentative agreement with GM — avoiding a potential strike.
“They haven’t let us know a whole lot yet, but I think it’s going to be a really good contract,” said Barb Daly, a 20-year union veteran who has worked at four plants.
Numerous other workers also shared Daly’s optimism, and considered Camaro production being a great sign for future work at the facility.
“We have work,” she said. “Last year, we were getting laid off all the time … Now we’re working every day, we’re working overtime and this Camaro is going to keep us going for a long time.”
Production of the 2016 Camaro in Lansing began a couple of weeks ago. Shipping from the facility started on Monday, according to Lansing Regional Plant Manager Mike Trevorrow. Cars are expected to be available to customers by mid-November.
General Motors announces that the 2016 Gen Six Camaros are in production and should hit dealerships by mid-November.
“It’s very exhilarating to have a vehicle like this,” Trevorrow said. “But with it comes a lot of responsibility. It’s an iconic pony car for us … We don’t take that lightly.”
The 2016 Chevy Camaro starts about $2,000 higher than the fifth-generation, with the 1LT model beginning at $26,695. The more powerful 2016 Camaro SS starts at $37,295 for the 1SS trim. Both prices include destination.
GM has invested about $670 million in the Lansing facility in recent years, including a $174 million stamping facility. The plant also builds ATS and CTS vehicles, which like the Camaro are rear-wheel drive cars.
Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer, said the company expects the sixth-generation Camaro to continue the success of the previous generation, which outsold its largest competitor during its production.
“We’ve taken it to another level,” he said. “Our goal has been to put Mustang in our rear-view mirror every day.”