GM to add 7K U.S. jobs, invest $1B in U.S. plants

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. announced Tuesday it will add or retain 7,000 U.S. jobs in the next few years and invest $1 billion in U.S. plants, including in Michigan. The plant investments will create or retain more than 1,500 jobs,though GM would not say how many would be new.

The automaker said it expects more than 5,000 salaried jobs will come in key growth areas such as with its subsidiary GM Financial and in advanced technology. The announcement comes three days before President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration. He has pressured automakers to add jobs and work in the U.S.

GM said it also will in-source from a supplier axle jobs for its next-generation full-size pickups. That work currently is done in Mexico and it will move to Michigan, creating 450 U.S. jobs. A spokeswoman declined to name the supplier or where or when those jobs would come to the U.S.

GM: 5K new salaried jobs, many in SE Mich.

“As the U.S. manufacturing base increases its competitiveness, we are able to further increase our investment, resulting in more jobs for America and better results for our owners,” GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “The U.S. is our home market and we are committed to growth that is good for our employees, dealers, and suppliers and supports our continued effort to drive shareholder value."

GM would not reveal where the manufacturing investments would occur but said it includes multiple new vehicles, advanced technology and components. It said individual project details would be announced this year. The carmaker also said another supplier it did not name will make components for GM's next-generation full-size trucks in Michigan, moving 100 supplier jobs to the U.S. from Mexico.

The news comes as Trump praised Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV last week for investing in the United States and adding jobs here. Conversely, Trump has called out GM and other carmakers for producing vehicles in Mexico and has suggested they will pay a “big border tax” for shipping Mexican-made vehicles to the United States.

Also Tuesday, Hyundai Motor Corp. and Kia Motors Corp. said the companies plan to invest $3 billion in the U.S. in the next five years and the Korean automakers are considering building a new plant here.

Last week, Toyota Motor Corp. said it plans to invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years.

Fiat Chrysler on Jan. 8 said it would invest $1 billion in plants in Michigan and Ohio, adding 2,000 jobs to produce new Jeep vehicles. Earlier in January, Ford announced it would invest $700 million in its Flat Rock Assembly plant, adding 700 jobs as it adds production of a new electric small SUV and an autonomous hybrid vehicle. Ford also said it canceled plans for a new small car plant in Mexico.

“I hope that General Motors will be following,” Trump said at a news conference last week. “I think they will be.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Trump in a tweet thanked GM and Walmart "for starting the big jobs push back into the U.S.!"  Earlier in the day Trump tweeted: "With all of the jobs I am bringing back into the U.S. (even before taking office), with all of the new auto plants coming back into our country and with the massive cost reductions I have negotiated on military purchases and more, I believe the people are seeing 'big stuff.'"

GM’s announcement of new U.S. jobs and investment is part of its normal course of business and was not in response to Trump, GM spokeswoman Joanne Krell said Tuesday. But now it also comes an optimal time for GM to share what it is working on, she said.

"General Motors' announcement today is mostly theater to play in the news cycle created by President-Elect Trump’s tweets," Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst for Autotrader, said in a statement. "These investments and hiring plans have long been in the works and are a continuation of what the company has been doing in recent years — trying to run a successful, profitable business. The only thing 'new' here is GM’s aggressiveness in announcing its plans.”

On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly targeted Ford for its plans to move small car production to Mexico. Trump tweeted earlier this month that GM was shipping some Cruze vehicles from Mexico to the U.S.: “General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax!”

GM builds the Cruze sedans at its Lordstown Assembly Plant in northeast Ohio and builds the Cruze hatchback in Mexico.

Barra and Trump talked following the tweet, and Barra told reporters on Jan. 8 that GM did not plan to change its production with the Cruze hatchback. Barra has been named to a group of business leaders who will advise Trump on economic policy issues.

During his presidential campaign, Trump proposed a 35 percent tariff on Mexican-made vehicles. The celebrity businessman also has said he wants to renegotiate trade deals and slap tariffs on products coming from China.

GM said Tuesday it has created 25,000 jobs in the U.S. in the past four years, including about 19,000 engineering, information technology and professional jobs and 6,000 manufacturing jobs. It announced plant investments totaling $2.9 billion in 2016 and more than $21 billion in U.S. operations since 2009.

UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said GM's announcement continues new investments it has announced since the 2015 contract.

"We are pleased that there will be over $1 billion in new investment for current and future UAW GM members," Estrada said in a statement. "Through hard work and the quality products we build, UAW-GM members, their families and their communities will benefit. We will continue to work with GM to bring more product to the United States and enhance the job security of our UAW members.”

In November, GM announced it would cut the third shifts and lay off more than 2,000 hourly workers in January at its Lansing Grand River Assembly and Lordstown Assembly plants. The news of the layoffs due to slowing sales of small cars came the same day GM said it planned to invest more than $900 million at three U.S. plants.

Those investments included $211 million at its Lansing Grand River plant for new tooling and equipment and a 32,000-square-foot addition to the body shop; $667.6 million for future products at Toledo Transmission and $37 million at Bedford Casting Operations in Indiana.

Last month, GM announced it would cut the second shift at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant in March, cutting some 1,300 jobs.

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Staff Writers Jonathan Oosting and Mark Hicks contributed.