DETROIT -- General Motors Co. plans to invest $245 million in its powertrain plant in St. Catharines, Ontario, to build a new six-speed transmission with better fuel efficiency.
Starting in 2012, the factory will supply the transmission to the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers and the Buick Regal sedan, the automaker said today -- the anniversary of its 2009 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
The transmission production will save or create about 400 jobs. Since emerging from bankruptcy on July 10 of last year, GM has said it would restore or create more than 9,500 production jobs in the United States and Canada as light-vehicle demand recovers.
The automaker is also preparing to meet tougher U.S. fuel economy requirements, which will increase to a fleet average of 35.5 mpg in the 2016 model year, compared with 27.3 mpg in 2011.
In April, GM said it also would spend $235 million on the St. Catharines plant to support next-generation V-8 engine production beginning in 2013. That investment also created or saved about 400 jobs, securing a total of 800 jobs at St. Catharines.
The new transmission is based on the design of GM's current Hydra-Matic 6T40/45. The vehicles that will get the new six-speed also have been a source of increased GM production in Ontario, creating or saving about 2,520 jobs.
GM has added a third shift and weekend production to its Ingersoll factory and is building a new body shop there in response to heavy demand and low supply of the Equinox and Terrain. The Equinox started May with a 23-day supply and the Terrain with a 26-day supply, compared with analysts' recommended 60-day level. The new production in Ontario is worth about 420 jobs.
The flex line of GM's plant in Oshawa, which currently builds the Chevrolet Camaro, is adding two shifts in the fourth quarter, worth 1,300 jobs. One shift will build the Buick Regal starting in 2011, and another will paint and finish assembly of Equinoxes built in the new Ingersoll body shop.
GM introduces the 2011 Regal this quarter, initially importing the sedan from Ruesselsheim, Germany. The Regal, developed on GM's global mid-sized, front-drive platform, is essentially a rebadged Opel Insignia.