By Jim Newell
General Motors announced that it will invest $300 million into the Orion Assembly plant to produce a new Chevrolet electric vehicle (EV), an investment that will also create 400 new jobs at the plant.
GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra made the announcement on Friday at the Giddings Road facility in Orion Township before GM employees, elected officials and community leaders.
“GM is absolutely committed to investing in and growing good paying manufacturing jobs in the United States. Jobs that strengthen us today and will improve our position for the future.
“Both of our announcements today reaffirm that commitment. Our commitment to bring more manufacturing jobs and investment to the U.S., and our commitment to furthering our investment in technology and all-electric future.
“So, I am incredibly pleased to announce this morning that General Motors will be investing $300 million and adding 400 new jobs to this facility to produce an all new Chevrolet electric vehicle,” Barra said.
Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett attended the announcement and sees the investment as a “game-changer” for the township.
“We are absolutely thrilled that General Motors decided to further invest in our community. This is a game-changer for us. While other plants in other parts of the state and region have plans to downsize or close altogether, this investment is just the opposite. And it comes in part because of the great work of the team at the Orion Assembly Plant. We couldn’t be more proud and more excited. Now, to fix those darn roads…” Barnett said.
Orion Assembly currently builds the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Chevrolet Sonic and the Cruise AV test vehicles and employs about 888 hourly and 139 salaried employees in the 4.3 million square feet facility, according to the GM Orion Assembly data sheet.
The new electric vehicle had been planned for production outside of the U.S. but GM said it chose the Orion Assembly plant for several factors, including:
• The Orion plant currently builds the Bolt EV, and the new Chevrolet EV will be based off an advanced version of the same vehicle architecture.
• Moving production to a U.S. manufacturing plant supports the rules of origin provisions in the proposed United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement.
Including the new investment, GM has invested nearly $1 billion at Orion Assembly since 2009.
In November 2014, General Motors announced that Orion Assembly would receive $160 million for tooling and equipment.
In June 2017, GM announced that it completed production of 130 Chevrolet Bolt EV test vehicles equipped with next generation of self-driving technology.
Then, in March 2018, GM announced it will build production versions of its Cruise AV at Orion Assembly. The Cruise AV, which the company has said it plans to commercialize in 2019, is the first production-ready vehicle built from the ground up to operate safely on its own with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls.
The announcement on Friday is part of “GM’s new commitment to invest a total of $1.8 billion in its United States manufacturing operations, creating 700 new jobs and supporting 28,000 jobs across six states,” according to General Motors.
By Jim Newell