GM to invest $600 million to expand plant that makes Malibu, LaCrosse
DETROIT -- General Motors said it will invest $600 million in a new paint shop and stamping press at the assembly plant where it makes the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse.
In a statement today, GM said the planned work at the Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, will be the largest investment in a single plant since the company's emergence from bankruptcy in July 2009.
Construction is slated to begin later this year and last about two years. It won't affect production, GM said in a statement.
GM employs 3,561 hourly and 316 salaried workers at Fairfax, which opened in 1945. Last year, workers assembled 277,454 cars there on three shifts -- 220,893 Malibus and 56,561 LaCrosses, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
'Vote of confidence'
GM will expand the plant by about 500,000 square feet, or 15 percent, to 3.7 million square feet -- a total footprint equal to about 20 Wal-Mart Supercenters.
GM CEO Dan Akerson called the investment a "vote of confidence" in the plant's workers and its leadership.
"When we're done, you can say with pride that you work in one of the crown jewels of GM's global manufacturing system," Akerson said, according to a transcript of his remarks to workers at an on-site event to announce the investment.
Akerson appeared at the plant with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and several GM and UAW leaders, including Joe Ashton, UAW national vice president and head of the union's GM department.
"These leaders know that we are in a commercial war with companies like Volkswagen and Hyundai," Akerson said.
The company plans to construct a 450,000 square-foot building for the paint shop, which will feature new tools and robots aimed at reducing energy use and improving quality. It "will deliver a flawless finish and optimal corrosion protection, but consume dramatically less energy and water," Akerson said.
GM said the paint shop will use about half of the energy per vehicle as the existing shop and on a 20 percent smaller footprint. It will use a new coating that provides better corrosion resistance by getting better coating in a vehicle's recesses and cavities.
Part of $1.5 billion plan
This month, GM North America President Mark Reuss said during a speech at the Automotive News World Congress that the company plans to invest $1.5 billion in North American facilities this year. The Fairfax investment is the largest component of that, GM said.
Over the last decade, GM has invested nearly $2 billion in the Fairfax plant. Other big infusions included $651 million for the launch of the Saturn Aura in 2006; and $722 million in 2003 for the launch of the 2004 Malibu.
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