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General Motors Co. is increasing production of its profit-rich Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups by investing $24 million in its Fort Wayne truck assembly plant.

The increase in production, which will not create new jobs at the plant, will focus on the popular crew-cab models of both pickups. Combined sales of the newly launched Chevy and GMC crew cabs, the first of the new models to hit dealer lots, increased 20 percent in the first quarter. 

"The team here at Fort Wayne has done an outstanding job helping us satisfy customers throughout this launch. Our product ramp-up was very smooth and the quality has been exceptional," CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "Crew cab sales have been very strong, and we are expanding customer choice with new models, more cab choices and innovative new powertrains."

GM is not disclosing specifics about the increase in production at Fort Wayne. The plant currently employs some 4,230 hourly workers,

"General Motors investment will ensure job security and continued growth in manufacturing and the economy for UAW members in Indiana, their families and their community," United Auto Workers Vice President and director of the GM department Terry Dittes said in a statement.

GM says the investment will be used to improve conveyors and other tooling at the plant to support increased production. Renovations will be completed this summer. 

The Fort Wayne investment is the latest in a series of similar announcements as the automaker prepares to renegotiate its contract with the UAW this fall. GM is heavily investing in its existing plants even as it executes a sweeping restructuring that includes stopping production at five North American plants.

Weeks after GM's Lordstown Assembly in northeast Ohio stopped building the Chevrolet Cruze, the automaker said it would invest $300 million to build a new electric vehicle and add 400 jobs at Orion Assembly. And earlier this month GM said it would create 450 new jobs at three of its Ohio plants.

GM has said it has job opportunities for most of the 2,800 affected hourly workers. So far, the automaker says about 1,350 workers from its unallocated plants have accepted transfers to other GM-UAW plants.

nnaughton@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @NoraNaughton

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