GM to put $449M in 2 Detroit-area plants

Facilities will build next-generation Volt; more jobs expected


DETROIT — General Motors Co. on Tuesday said it plans to invest a total of $449 million in its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant and Brownstown Township, Mich., battery factory to expand electric-vehicle production and make way for two new products.

The automaker said it would invest $384 million at Detroit-Hamtramck to prep for the redesigned Chevrolet Volt and two new vehicles.

GM also said it would invest $65 million to expand lithium-ion battery production and next-generation battery manufacturing in Brownstown Township.

A source familiar with the company’s plans told the Detroit Free Press the investment will involve a second production shift and about 1,400 jobs.

At the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which straddles the borders of the two cities, the automaker now produces the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac ELR, and Chevrolet Volt, as well as two foreign versions of these cars. GM has invested more than $1 billion in the plant since its Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009.

Gerald Johnson, GM’s vice president of North America manufacturing, said the Brownstown investment is “for next-generation lithium-ion battery production as well as other future battery systems.”

The company didn’t release details on the next generation Volt. The current version can go about 38 miles on battery power before a small gasoline generator kicks in. Mr. Johnson said the next-generation Volt is targeted for 2016. He declined to say whether the new products would include a pure electric car.

Reuters quoted suppliers saying Chevrolet is planning to sell two versions of the redesigned 2016 Volt, including a lower-priced model with a smaller battery pack and shorter driving range.

The Volt’s sales have been less than stellar. Through March, GM has sold 3,600 of the cars, down 15 percent from last year. And sales last year fell 1.6 percent to just over 23,000 despite price-cutting from about $40,000 to $35,000.