General Motors Co. will invest an estimated $2 billion this year at 17 assembly and component plants in eight states, including improvements at a Toledo, Ohio, plant to prepare for production of a new transmission 8-speed automatic transmission. Executives of the automaker and the United Auto Workers union used the Ohio project to announce the broader expansion program, and cited a research study that indicates its planned investments will add over $2.8 billion to the U.S. GDP “and create or retain more than 28,000 jobs.”
"We are doing this because we are confident about demand for our vehicles and the economy," stated GM chairman and CEO Dan Akerson.
Details of the full $2-billion program are scarce. In addition to the Toledo update GM is counting a $131-million expansion announced last week for the Bowling Green, Ky., assembly plant. That project involves general plant improvements and new equipment for an upcoming model Chevrolet Corvette.
GM explained that make specific announcements about plant investments will be made as it concludes negotiations with states and localities regarding financial incentives in some communities.
The Toledo project is gauged at $204 million and will preserve about 250 jobs at that plant. "The UAW's goal has been to return all laid-off workers to active status and see the company begin hiring again," according to the union’s vice president Joe Ashton in a statement released by GM. "These announcements will create and retain thousands of jobs and bring General Motors back to full employment of our hourly workforce."
The new transmissions appear to be designed for GM’s higher-value products and luxury vehicles, rather than the economy cars and electric vehicles that have been the emphasis of most of the automakers’ recent capital projects. However, specific design and application details were not released.
GM indicates it has invested $3.4 billion in capital improvements since mid-2009. It reports its sale figures are up 24.8% year-over-year, and it has reported five straight quarters of profitability.