GM investing US$1.3 billion in 5 plants

Investments at plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana will create or retain 1,000 jobs

FLINT, Mich. (Reuters) — General Motors said on Monday it will invest nearly US$1.3 billion at five plants in the United States to make a new transmission and boost output for a planned new engine as well as add a vehicle paint shop.

GM, the No. 1 U.S. automaker, said the investment at the plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana will create or retain about 1,000 jobs combined, but did not say how many will be new jobs. The five plants employ about 7,500 people.

The investment is part of US$8 billion that GM typically spends annually on its global operations and will be used to make a new 10-speed transmission and boost planned output of a new V6 engine, as well as support production of an existing 6-speed transmission, the company said. GM also will add a new paint shop and logistics center.

Since 2009, when GM emerged from bankruptcy with the help of a US$49.5 billion U.S. taxpayer bailout, the company has announced investments of more than US$10.1 billion in its U.S. operations, including US$2.8 billion this year alone.

GM has made a series of announcements as the end of the year approaches, including the promotion of product development chief Mary Barra to chief executive, starting next month. The Detroit company will also drop its Chevrolet brand in Europe and end manufacturing in Australia. It also has sold stakes in French automakerPeugeot and its former finance arm Ally Financial.

"Today's announced plant upgrades continue the momentum of a resurgent auto industry," GM North American President Mark Reuss said in a statement. "More importantly, these investments add up to higher quality and more fuel-efficient vehicles."

The largest piece, US$600 million, will be spent in the Flint, Mich., assembly plant, where the heavy-duty Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks are built, for upgrades that include a new paint shop.

More than US$493 million will be invested at the Romulus, Mich., powertrain operation for new equipment to build an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission as well as boost production of the previously announced new V6 engine, the company said.

GM said details about the 10-speed transmission, which is intended to boost fuel economy, and the V6 engine will be announced later.

The rest of the money will be spent at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, where the Chevy Volt, Malibu andImpala cars are built, for a logistics center; at the Toledo, Ohio, powertrain plant for increased capacity of an existing 6-speed transmission and tooling for a new variant; and at the Bedford, Ind., castings plant to make parts for the 10-speed transmission and existing 6-speed transmission, GM said.

GM previously said it was also spending about US$332 million at four U.S. plants, including Toledo and Bedford, and made a small investment in Romulus.

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