GM could build midsize crossovers at Spring Hill Assembly Plant

GM could build midsize crossovers at Spring Hill Assembly Plant
Tue, Aug 6 detroitnews.com

Cars are assembled at the General Motors Spring Hill Manufacturing Plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. GM announced Tuesday that it is spending another $167 million at the factory so it can build two new midsize vehicles.Cars are assembled at the General Motors Spring Hill Manufacturing Plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. GM announced Tuesday that it is spending another $167 million at the factory so it can build two new midsize vehicles. (AP)

General Motors Co. said Tuesday it will bring a third vehicle to its Spring Hill Assembly Plant, a former Saturn plant in Tennessee that was shuttered in 2009 but had vehicle production restarted last September. The automaker said it will invest another $167 million into the facility, creating or retaining 1,800 jobs.

The investment includes adding $40 million that will be added to the $183 million investment announced in November 2011 at Spring Hill to support production of an unspecified midsize vehicle. That program is expected to create or retain 1,000 jobs.

The remaining $127 million would support production for a second unnamed midsize vehicle to be built at the plant, and would create or retain 800 jobs.

The Detroit-based automaker would not say what the vehicles are, if any are new or whether the vehicles are moving from other locations.

But some analysts believe the vehicles may be midsize crossovers.

Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at automotive forecasting and research firm AutoPacific Inc., said it would make sense for GM to build three vehicles from the same platform at the plant. He believes Buick may be adding a midsize crossover in the 2015 model year, which might fit into the automaker’s plans at Spring Hill. Buick has not confirmed any plans for a new crossover

vehicle.

The newly announced investment is significant in the rebirth of the Spring Hill Assembly Plant. The plant opened in 1990 to build Saturns and closed in 2009 as GM shifted production of the Chevrolet Traverse SUV to Lansing Delta Township. The closure led to about 2,000 workers losing their jobs. Another 800 relocated to other GM plants.

The company also would not give specifics on timing, other than that each of the vehicles would reach the market within the next three years, GM spokesman Bill Grotz said.

“Today’s announcement recognizes the commitment of Spring Hill employees and leadership,” GM North America President Mark Reuss said in a statement. “As a team, they draw upon the plant’s unique heritage and dedicated workforce to deliver top quality for our customers.”

Last fall, GM workers at Spring Hill began building four-cylinder versions of the popular Chevrolet Equinox. The crossover SUV

also is built at two plants in Canada.

Spring Hill also has stamping, engine and production of component parts. The facility employs about 2,000 workers, including nearly 1,700 hourly workers.

“I would like to thank General Motors for its confidence that the highly skilled members of the UAW Local 1853 can successfully build midsize vehicles with high quality here at Spring Hill,” Joe Ashton, UAW vice president who heads the GM department, said in a statement. “The hard work and dedication of our members once again proves that we can competitively manufacture vehicles for the future right here in Tennessee.”

GM has previously said the Spring Hill plant would be a flexible operation and could build any GM car or crossover

if demand warranted.

The new products and jobs eventually could help some former Spring Hill workers return to their home plant. In March, there were still a few hundred UAW workers who wanted to return to Spring Hill after being transferred to other locations during GM’s downturn. Many of those workers are at GM’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant.

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