MEXICO CITY General Motors could bring hybrid vehicles and other new programs to its Ramos Arizpe operations in northern Mexico, the president of GMs Mexican operations said Monday.
Speaking to an industry gathering here, GM Mexico President Kevin Williams said the 26-year-old Ramos Arizpe complex is undergoing extensive changes in preparation for new global vehicles.
Significant potential growth plans are being evaluated for new product programs, new engine and transmission combinations and new technologies like hybrids and advance propulsion systems, he said.
Williams, 45, described Ramos Arizpe as critical for GM North America. The complex, opened in 1981, employs 4,600 and makes the Chevrolet C2, Chevy HHR and Saturn Vue. It produces 3.4- and 3.5-liter engines along with transmissions.
GM also is gearing up a new assembly and stamping complex in San Luis Potosi in central Mexico. Williams said the plant will be one of the most flexible and efficient in the world when it opens next June.
The lean manufacturing operation will incorporate the most advanced execution of our global manufacturing system, with stamping, body, paint, assembly and powertrain operations, Williams said.
He said plans call for producing small and compact cars there for Mexico, but that plan is still under evaluation.
Addressing other GM Mexico locations, Williams said the automakers 12-year-old Silao assembly plant was undergoing a radical expansion. That project includes a transmission plant under construction.
A significant technology upgrade in virtually every area of the plant has recently been completed, he added. We see Mexico as a critical resource for our future growth.
Williams also said production operations in Toluca, near Mexico City, were receiving significant new investment. The Toluca plant, launched in 1964, makes the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra. Toluca also has a regional engineering center with more than 800 product engineers working on interiors; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and other areas.
Williams also touted GMs new Mexican proving grounds in Cupuan, in the state of Michoacan. This is a state-of-the-art hot-weather testing facility for GMs global product programs, Williams said.
Cupuan was selected because of its peculiar weather conditions, allowing GM engineers to perform the most rigorous test of air-conditioning, engine cooling and thermal systems virtually year round.
Williams said early testing of the road systems began in late 2006. He said the proving grounds will open this fall.