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Toledo plant ready to roar into production of 8-speed transmission

GM factory to build high-tech units this month


UAW official Ray Wood says the plant, known as Powertrain, has about 150 new hires in the last week, but many are laid-off workers from the Romulus, Mich., plant.

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General Motors Co. is nearly ready to begin full-scale production of the company’s new eight-speed transmission at its Alexis Road plant.

Ray Wood, president of United Auto Workers Local 14, said Monday the plant will start building finished versions of the the high-tech automatic gearbox by the end of the month.

GM’s Toledo Transmission Plant is about halfway through a two-week summer shutdown that many automakers take to make upgrades and do routine maintenance. The plant is set to spring back to action Monday and soon start building eight-speeds that will go into the yet-to-be released 2015 Corvette.

“We’re just making sure we get everything right,” Mr. Wood said. “With everything that’s going on, we don’t want to have any issues whatsoever. We’re checking, double-checking, and making sure everything is solid, and it looks good from here.”

General Motors announced the project way back in 2011 and has invested a total of $260 million into the project during the last three-plus years. The company hasn’t been firm on whether or not the project would create jobs, though union officials have told The Blade the company has been adding workers.

Mr. Wood said the plant, commonly known as Powertrain, has brought in about 150 new employees in the last few weeks. Most of them, he said, are laid off from GM’s Romulus, Mich., factory. The company is in the process of retooling that plant to build new V-6 engines and new 10-speed transmissions.

GM’s contract with the UAW specifies that laid-off employees get first crack at new jobs. Mr. Wood said it’s likely that most of those men and women eventually will return to Romulus, but it’s not clear if those who ultimately fill new jobs in Toledo would be current GM employees or off-the-street hires.

“There’s going to be some more opportunities for employment, but it’s up to the National Employment Placement Center to dictate where we get those employees from,” he said.

Mr. Wood said current employment at the plant is nearly 2,100 people.

A GM spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

As work continues readying the plant for the new eight-speed, the plant continues building six-speed transmissions. Mr Wood said the factory is building approximately 5,500 six-speed transmissions every day.

By September, officials hope to be building more than 500 eight-speeds a day.

Officially, GM only has announced that the transmission will go into the 2015 Corvette. It’s widely expected to be used in other General Motors products, including possibly Cadillacs or the Chevrolet Camaro.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at or 419-724-6134 or on Twitter @BladeAutoWriter.

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