GM to Build Bolt and Unnamed Model at Michigan Plant

DETROIT (Detroit Free Press/TNS) -

General Motors will invest $245 million and eventually hire 300 workers at one of its Michigan assembly plants to build the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle and another new, unnamed model, the company said Monday.

“Orion Assembly is a breeding ground for manufacturing innovation,” said Cathy Clegg, vice president of GM North America manufacturing and labor relations, in a statement about the plant, located about 30 miles north of Detroit. “It serves as a model for how to engage the entire workforce at all levels to achieve success.”

Today, about 1,580 hourly and 180 salaried workers assemble the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano at the plant. But a combination of moderately low gas prices and Americans’ preference for larger vehicles have hurt sales of the two compact sedans.

Sonic sales through May are down 28.5 percent from a year earlier, while Verano sales have fallen about 16 percent in the same period.

Earlier this month, GM reduced production and said about 100 workers would be laid off at the plant over the remainder of 2015.

Clegg said the $245 million investment would be concentrated in the body shop where precisely programmed robots weld the basic structure of a vehicle together. But the “all new vehicle program” would lead to 300 new jobs.

Asked why the company chose not to identify the second new vehicle for Orion, Clegg said GM didn’t want to announce a name for competitive reasons.

The Bolt is scheduled to go on sale sometime in 2017, which means much of the tooling and equipment to be purchased with the $245 million investment announced Monday would be installed next year.

GM’s first all-electric vehicle, the Bolt is expected to have a range of 200 miles on one full charge and be priced at about $30,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit.