General Motors will invest about $449 million in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant and Brownstown Township Battery Assembly facility, the automaker announced today. The investment will also bring with it the addition of 1,400 jobs to the Detroit-Hamtramck facility, according to the Detroit News.
GM says the investment was made in preparation for its next generation of electric vehicles and advanced battery technologies. As a result of the investment and development of the new vehicle, a second shift will be added to the Hamtramck facility starting next year.
An official announcement on the investment was made today by GM’s vice president of North America manufacturing, Gerald Johnson, at the Automotive Press Association lunch in Detroit. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Gov. Rick Snyder were both in attendance for the announcement and expressed their support of the investment.
“While challenges remain throughout the auto industry, this announcement shows that it is looking to the future, and the resulting technological advancements will strengthen our economy and benefit our environment,” Snyder said in a statement. “This is great news for Detroit, the region and all of Michigan.”
The Hamtramck facility is the only plant where the Volt and its plug-in hybrid siblings, the Opel Ampera and Holden Volt sold in Europe and Australia, are manufactured. About 1,600 workers are employed for each shift at the plant, which also builds some Chevrolet Malibu and Impala mid-size sedans as well as the luxurious Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid. There has been talk of adding a second shift to the plant for years. There is no word on if the Brownstown plant, which assembles lithium-ion battery packs for GM’s plug-in hybrid vehicles, will also be receiving additional new jobs.
The new, redesigned Volt is expected to arrive as a 2016 model. Jeff Schuster, an industry analyst with LMC Automotive in Troy, Michigan, told Detroit News he expects the new Volt to begin production in the fall of 2015. At the same time, he also expects GM to add another compact electric vehicle to its lineup based on the Volt, albeit with lower electric range. This would explain adding nearly double the workforce to the Hamtramck plant.
“They’re looking to take the Volt in kind of a split personality and have a plug-in version and likely a more affordable electric version,” Schuster said.
Former GM CEO Dan Akerson told Bloomberg last year he hoped to extend the electric range of the Volt with the new 2016 model “significantly”. The current model can travel 38 miles on electric power alone before the gasoline generator kicks in, which gives it a total range of 380 miles.
“If we can get it (electric range) up to 50, 60 miles or more, we will,” Akerson said.
GM has invested in the Detroit-Hamtramck facility heavily in recent years. In December of last year, it was announced GM would invest $121 million to add a logistics center to the building. The automaker also made a $336 million investment for production of the Volt and Opel Ampera in 2009 as well as $121 million for the Chevy Malibu in 2010 and $69 million for the addition of the Impala in 2011.