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GM Puts $1 Billion into its Factories in Flint, Michigan

The 2024 Chevy Silverado. The next generation of GM’s heavy duty gas-powered pickups, like this and the GMC Sierra, will be made in Flint, Michigan. Photo courtesy GM

The new production lines will build the company’s gas-powered heavy duty pickups, the sales of which it says will finance its transition to electric vehicles.

General Motors this week announced a $1 billion investment in two of its factories in Flint, Mich., where it will retool production lines to manufacture heavy duty pickup trucks like this one for the next seven to 10 years.

That’s a significant sum of money for the company and for Flint, its hometown. GM’s is a major economic presence there, and more than 8,000 people work at six of its facilities in the area.

GM’s Flint Assembly plant will get $788 million to expand its body shop and assembly conveyor, as well as new tooling and other equipment. Its Flint Metal Center, which produces sheet metal stampings for its pickups, SUVs and crossover vehicles, will get $233 million for new dies to feed the new product line and for other refurbishments.

And, as MLive points out, this week’s “two-plant announcement comes just six months after GM announced it would also spend $579 million to bring V-8 engine manufacturing back to Flint Engine Operations.”

Again, a lot of money!

This may seem out of step with a major industry trend these days. Auto companies are pouring resources into shifting production to electric vehicles (EVs) and they’re being encouraged to do so by federal incentive programs to get consumers to buy them and other energy efficient products. That trend also includes GM, which is aiming to build nothing but electric passenger vehicles by 2035.

But the trucks made in Flint after this announcement won’t be EVs – they’ll have internal combustion engines, the kind that currently drive the company’s sales. GM sold nearly 300,000 heavy duty pickups last year, a significant increase from the year before, and it says it needs to maintain sales to make its EV pivot successful.

Americans like big vehicles, like these pickups, and these sales show that GM knows that too. As such, the company recently announced it will stop building both models of its electric Chevy Bolt – a hatchback and a small SUV – because its plant in Michigan that currently makes them is being converted to make electric trucks.

But while that conversion and other EV investments are underway, GM is counting on its factories making gas-powered trucks in Flint to bridge the gap. The workers there – members of the United Autoworkers (UAW), which is gearing up for contract negotiations scheduled to begin later this month – are keen to see that they are brought along for the ride when the EV transition takes place.

Said UAW Vice President Mike Booth to the Associated Press:

“We’ve very clearly said the conversion from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, it has to be a just transition. We’re the ones that built the company, and we want to see ourselves moving it forward into the future.”

Read more about the Flint announcements here.

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