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GM invests in 5 Michigan sites, taps third plant for electric vehicles

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — General Motors Co. is amping up its electric-vehicle plans even as it invests in gas-powered pickups and SUVs, the traditional profit generators whose sales are expected to fund future electric ambitions.

The Detroit automaker on Tuesday said it plans to invest $150 million into five Michigan plants, including Orion Assembly for electric production, and $2 billion into its Tennessee plant for production of electric Cadillacs. It's pushing to have 20 electric nameplates by 2023, but can't get there without a successful lineup of pickups and SUVs to support the electric products that have yet to make money.

“We are committed to investing in the U.S., our employees and our communities,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “These investments underscore the success of our vehicles today, and our vision of an all-electric future.”

In the state of Michigan, GM is investing $150 million across five GM plants. Flint Assembly will receive $32 million for future production of the heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.

Lansing Delta is getting $100 million to build the next-generation GMC Acadia, currently built at the Spring Hill, Tennessee, plant. The Romulus propulsion plant will receive $17 million to enhance automation and increase capacity of GM’s 10-speed truck transmission for full-size pickups and other key products. 

On the battery-powered vehicle side, Orion Assembly will get a $3.5 million investment for production of the self-driving Cruise test vehicles and Brownstown Battery Assembly will get $750,000 also for Cruise.

"Today is a great day for the hardworking people in Michigan," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during the live investment announcement on Tuesday. "We're proud to see continued investment in our state. Companies like General Motors recognize what we know, that we have the greatest workers in the world building the greatest vehicles."

Outside of Michigan, GM's sprawling plant in Spring Hill is getting a $2 billion investment to build electric Cadillacs — including the new Cadillac Lyriq — as first reported last week by The Detroit News. Production of the Cadillac XT6 and XT5 will continue at Spring Hill. The facility will build both gas-powered Cadillac products and electric.

The proposed investment at the 7.9-million square foot Tennessee plant now gives the automaker three electric-vehicle factories. The first two: Factory Zero Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center and Orion Assembly, both located in southeast Michigan.

"It's absolutely a sign of their commitment to really expanding their EV lineup," Sam Abuelsamid, a principal research analyst leading Guidehouse Insights, said of GM's designation of a third electric plant. "The fact that they are putting this much money into retooling Spring Hill ... clearly they are going to have to make some changes to accommodate a vehicle like the Lyriq."

Spring Hill’s paint and body shops will undergo major expansions and the general assembly will receive upgrades, including new machines, conveyors, controls and tooling. GM said the renovation work there starts immediately.

"The future unveiled by General Motors today is a commitment to UAW members’ future work based on their skill, sweat and craftsmanship," Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and director of the union's GM department, said in a statement.  "And we are excited about building next generation vehicles like the EV Cadillac Lyriq and new generation Acadia at UAW Local 1853 and UAW Local 602 respectively."

Launch timing and additional product details are to be released at a later date.

khall@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @bykaleahall