DETROIT – General Motors is investing $2.2 billion in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant to make it a state-of-the-art facility building electric and self-driving cars.
The automaker said Monday the plant will provide 2,200 jobs as it shifts to become the company’s first all-electric vehicle plant.
“This will be General Motors’ most technically advanced assembly plant,” GM President Mark Reuss said in a news conference at the facility. “That’s really amazing.”
For now, the plant is set to idle for retooling on Feb. 28 meaning some 800 hourly workers could be laid off or transferred. Union leaders have set up informational meetings with members to discuss their futures starting Tuesday.
Electric and autonomous
GM announced it will build the self-driving all-electric Cruise Origin shuttle at the plant.
GM Cruise, GM’s self-driving arm in San Francisco, unveiled the autonomous vehicle with no steering wheel or gas pedal last week. The car will be used in ride-sharing fleets and be powered on an all-electric platform that GM will build.
GM currently assembles the electric Chevrolet Bolts used by GM Cruise at Orion Assembly plant in Lake Orion.
Last November, GM had said it would close four U.S. plants, including Detroit-Hamtramck. But after a 40-day nationwide strike by the UAW, GM pledged to invest $3 billion to retool Detroit-Hamtramck to build electric vehicles. On Monday, GM said it will put another $800 million toward supplier tooling and other projects related to new electric trucks.
UAW Vice President Terry Dittes welcomed Monday’s news, calling the announcement “a testament to the perseverance of our UAW members and UAW Region 1 under the direction of Frank Stuglin. Over 2,200 jobs and a new technology product will deliver job security and a bright economic future for UAW members for decades to come at Hamtramck.”
For now, the plant is operating on an extension to produce the Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Impala. But by the end of next month, it will idle for up to 18 months for retooling.
GM plans to build the new group of premium electric vehicles at Detroit-Hamtramck beginning in late 2021, the Free Press has previously reported. That includes reviving the long-gone Hummer name on a new pickup.
In December, GM said it would lay off 814 hourly and salaried workers at Detroit-Hamtramck starting Feb. 28. GM provided notice of the layoffs in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act filing with the state.
UAW leaders say GM has suggested the workers could be transferred to its Fort Wayne Assembly plant in Indiana or Flint Assembly. GM builds its high-volume pickups at both factories.
“Any future people movement at Detroit-Hamtramck would be determined by the terms of the UAW national contract,” said GM spokesman Dan Flores on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Local 22 UAW that represents the hourly workers at Detroit-Hamtramck has started preparing for disruption at the plant.
A person familiar with the local UAW’s plans said next week, starting Tuesday and running through the following Monday, union leaders will hold meetings at the end of the day shift with hourly workers.
The meetings are to inform workers about benefits and pending transfers when the plant idles next month, the person said.
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